How to Apply for a Business License in Maine

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Swyft Filings is committed to providing accurate, reliable information to help you make informed decisions for your business. That's why our content is written and edited by professional editors, writers, and subject matter experts. Learn more about how Swyft Filings works, our editorial team and standards, what our customers think of us, and more on our trust page.

Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated October 17, 2023
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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Getting your business licenses should be one of your biggest priorities for starting a new business. Whether you run a corporation or limited liability company (LLC), it helps to get off on the right foot and keep in good standing with the Secretary of State.

If you don’t know what license to apply for as a business owner, don’t worry. This article will provide an in-depth guide to business license requirements in the state of Maine.

Maine Business License: Key Takeaways

  • A Maine business license certifies the legal authorization for your LLC or corporation to operate within the state.

  • The specific licenses you need depend on your business's location, nature, and industry.

  • Maine doesn’t require a general business license, but you might need a local county or city license, professional license, or permit.

Navigate Maine Business Licensing with Ease

Ensuring you have the right business licenses and permits is crucial. Let us manage the complexities for you, so you can stay focused on what you do best — running your business.

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What Is a Business License?

A business license certifies you can legally do business in a certain area. For example, a Maine business license is a permit that enables you to sell products or services across the state of Maine. It’s an essential document for any limited liability company and corporation, as it legitimizes the entity in the eyes of the state and federal government.

Regardless of your type of business, the term you’re most likely interested in is a general state license. It’s a broad authorization that allows your small business to operate in a particular area under an official business name.

However, that’s not the only license you might need. There are a few alternatives, depending on where you want to do business. The following government levels can issue these:

  • Federal 

  • State 

  • County

  • Municipal

  • City

Keep in mind that not every city has the same requirements, even if they’re in the same state. For example, Portland may require you to obtain various licenses for your enterprise, whereas Augusta might be a bit more liberal in this respect. That’s why it’s best to consult local governments on the permits necessary for your entity.

Lastly, it’s important to distinguish between registering a company and obtaining a business license. These two aren’t the same since you can register your entity without getting a permit. But you won’t be able to operate legally without official authorization.

The sooner you get your license(s), the faster you can start making money by selling your offerings.

Get Your Maine Business License in 7 Steps

Looking to protect your reputation and good standing with the Maine Secretary of State? Getting a business license will put you on the right track. 

In this seven-step guide, let’s see what it takes to apply for your state license and any additional licenses.

Step 1: Apply for Maine General Business Licenses

Some states require you to obtain a general business license, regardless of your business type. The state of Maine isn’t one of those states. As a result, there’s no need to worry about getting a general state license when launching your small business in the Pine Tree State.

If this were the only license required for your enterprise, our checklist would end here. However, there are many other permits you may need to acquire to run your entity legally, some of which are issued by the federal government.

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Maine Businesses

The federal government regulates many aspects of being a business owner, irrespective of your state. For instance, if you’re setting up a new business in Maine, you need to obtain a federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). Without one, you won’t be able to pay taxes.[1]

You may also need to get a specific business license from federal authorities. More than ten industries and business activities require a federal license.[2] Here are some of those:

  • License to import or transport animals and plants across states issued by the Department of Agriculture

  • License to make and sell alcoholic drinks as a retailer issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau or a Local Alcohol Beverage Control Board

  • License to import and export fish and other wildlife issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • License to transport people or products via aircraft or perform airplane maintenance issued by the Federal Aviation Administration

  • License to drill for oil and natural gas on federal grounds issued by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Augusta, Maine at sunset | Swyft Filings

Step 3: Search for Maine Permits and Licenses

Understanding the federal licenses you need is the first step to ensuring your company operates legally. You should also be aware of additional permits specifically required by the state of Maine. These licenses are similar to those issued by the federal government because they depend on the nature of your enterprise.

Take a look at some of the most common instances where you may need a state license in Maine:

  • A public company that modifies or constructs new premises (you need a building permit in this case)[3]

  • An agricultural enterprise that imports animals, plants, and biotechnology

  • A producer, importer, or seller of alcoholic beverages (you need an alcohol license in this case)

  • A radio and TV broadcasting business that requires a satellite, cable, TV, or radio signal

  • A maritime transporter that hauls products by sea

Step 4: Search for Local County or City Maine Business Licenses

Now, it’s time to narrow down the requirements by looking at non-state levels of government. More specifically, you’ll need to consider any building permit, sales tax permit, ordinances, and additional licenses you may have to obtain from your city, county, or municipality.

For instance, Portland requires companies from the brewery, distillery, and winery industry to get a special license. The same goes for the booting of motor vehicles and flea market selling.[4]

Likewise, Bangor mandates medical marijuana establishments and taxi services to get a license.[5]

For more details about the necessary permits, contact your local tax office.

Step 5: Search for Maine Professional Licenses

A professional license is required for certain professions. For example, if you own a law firm, you may need several state and local permits to provide your services legally.[6]

Here are a few groups that may require a professional state license:

  • Plumbers

  • Dentists

  • Doctors

  • Lawyers

  • Electricians

Step 6: Apply for a Maine Home-Based Business License

A home-based new business is a special type of small business with different requirements from standard companies. You may need a few licenses to authorize your business location and activity if you’ve opted for a home occupation, such as a childcare or family learning facility.

For instance, the Division of Environmental and Community Health may need to inspect the premises for child safety. You might also need a building permit if you’re expanding or modifying the place.[7]

It’s best to check these requirements with your local town office or city clerk.

Step 7: Maintain Your Maine Business License

After getting your business license and occupational tax certificate, it’s not time to put your feet up yet. Maintaining your permit and business tax certificate is key to staying legal in the state of Maine. It also helps you remain in good standing with the Secretary of State.

To do so, you’ll need to renew your license occasionally, depending on the issuing organization. For instance, you can only apply for a new alcohol license if there are less than 60 days until the current permit's expiration.[8]

Apply for a Maine Business License Online

Whether you’re starting a new business with the Maine Secretary of State or expanding your operations, we can guide you every step of the way. We know all the requirements for any business license you need. We’ll speed up your application process and keep you up-to-date with renewal timelines.

So, don’t hesitate — head to our Business License questionnaire to get started.

Stay Compliant in Maine Without the Hassle
  • Focus on Your Business: Dive into your passion while we handle the intricacies of acquiring the necessary local, state, and federal business licenses and permits.

  • Simplify Your Paperwork: Complete our straightforward questionnaire, and we’ll handle all the required filings for you, accurately and promptly.

  • Stay Compliant: Avoid the risks and severe repercussions of non-compliance. We’re here to ensure your business remains in good standing.

Begin My License Application Today


How do I get a business license in Maine?

To get a business license in Maine, you must submit the necessary paperwork to your city, county, or municipal government, depending on who oversees your area. Before you do so, don’t forget to research the permits necessary for your trade because you may need multiple licenses.

Does Maine require a general business license?

No. You don’t need a general business license to operate legally in Maine. Still, you might need several local licenses, depending on the nature of your enterprise and city requirements.

Can you sell things in Maine without a license?

You can’t sell anything in Maine if you don’t have a corresponding license. For example, if you’re a tobacco or alcoholic drinks manufacturer, you’ll probably need a permit from the federal government to break into your market legally.

Do I need a special license for an online business in Maine?

In most cases, no. Online businesses don’t need special licenses in Maine. Like most other states, Maine only requires companies with physical premises to obtain certain permits. However, there could be some exceptions, so contact your local authorities for additional information.

Can I collect sales tax in Maine without a license?

No. You need to get a sales tax number to collect Maine sales tax. This code enforcement rule applies to all companies with a physical presence, whether you sell products or services.

How much does a Maine business license cost?

As Maine doesn’t have a general business license, no filing fees are associated with it. Regarding city, county, or municipal permits, the amount depends on various factors, such as the area and your enterprise type.

What’s the penalty for not having a business license in Maine?

The penalties for not having appropriate business licenses in Maine vary. For instance, if you sell fireworks without a license, the initial fine is $500. If you continue to do so in the next six months after the original penalty, you’ll be fined an additional $1,000.[9]


  1. IRS. “Employer ID Numbers.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  2. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Apply for licenses and permits.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  3. Maine Department of Public Safety. “Building Codes.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  4. City of Portland. “Business Licensing.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  5. City of Bangor. “Business Licenses.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  6. Maine Revised Statutes. “Administrative Procedures and Services.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  7. “Division of Environmental and Community Health. “Accessed July 25, 2023.

  8. “Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations: Liquor Licensing.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  9. Maine Legislature. “Mandatory Fines.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

Originally published on September 15, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.
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