How to Apply for a Business License in Missouri

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Carlos Serrano
Written by Carlos Serrano
Written byCarlos Serrano
Updated October 17, 2023
Edited by Alexis Konovodoff
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As a prospective business owner in the state of Missouri, you’re probably looking at the requirements necessary for starting a limited liability company (LLC). You know you need a business name, articles of organization, and the Federal Employer Identification Number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). But what about a business license?

Depending on your new business' activities, location, and industry, you might require a business license at the federal, state, local, or professional levels. This article will guide you through the Missouri business licensing requirements and steps to acquiring one for your company.

Missouri Business License: Key Takeaways

  • Missouri doesn’t require a general business license, but you may need specific federal, city, and professional licenses depending on your location, industry, and business type.

  • Local cities and municipalities may impose licensing requirements, including building permits, liquor licenses, and home-based business regulations.

  • Once you obtain your Missouri business license(s), staying up-to-date with renewals is crucial to keep your business in good standing.

Navigate Missouri 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 allows limited liability companies and other business entities to operate within the state of Missouri.

Obtaining a business license differs from registering your business. Registering involves choosing a business structure, tax registration, and filing articles of organization. On the other hand, business licenses are like formal agreements that allow you to conduct a certain type of business within a specific geographical region.

Within every state, there are different types of business licenses:

  • General business license

  • Federal license issued by the federal government

  • State license

  • City license

  • Professional licenses

Generally, Missouri doesn’t require businesses to obtain a general business license. However, you might need a business license to run your small business within a certain city. For example, businesses selling or leasing taxable goods or services need a sales tax license.[1]

In addition, businesses engaged in specific fields, such as architecture, martial arts, and massage therapy, might require professional licenses.[2]

Business owners might confuse licenses with permits, but these two documents differ. Permits allow you to conduct a certain type of business for a decided period, while business licenses are typically permanent. Additionally, business licenses have fewer restrictions and inspections than permits.

Get Your Missouri Business License in 8 Steps

Knowing how to obtain a business license is necessary for every startup owner looking to operate within any state. Without necessary state licenses or occupational tax certificates, you might be subject to various penalties that can get as high as $10,000.[3]

The following sections outline the eight steps for obtaining a business license and any additional licenses your business might need.

Step 1: Apply for Missouri General Business Licenses

A general business license is a state-level permit that lets you operate in the state regardless of the type of business or industry your business is in. Only a handful of states require businesses to have a general business license. 

The good news is that the State of Missouri isn’t one of them. However, a general business license isn’t the only state license you need to consider. Depending on your location and the type of business you plan on running, you might need to obtain other licenses.

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Missouri Businesses

All businesses regulated by government agencies require a federal license or permit.[4] As a small business owner, it’s unlikely that you’ll need a federal license. But if your new business conducts any activities at a federal level, you might require it. 

Whatever the case, knowing which major industries federal organizations oversee is useful. Here are some examples:

  • Agriculture: If your business involves transporting animals, plants, animal products, or biotechnology, you must obtain a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • Aviation: For businesses that operate aircraft, transport people or goods by air, or deal with aircraft maintenance, a business license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration is necessary.

  • Radio and Television Broadcasting: Businesses broadcasting information by radio, television, wire, satellite, or cable need a business license from the Federal Communications Commission.

The city of St. Louis, Missouri | Swyft Filings

Step 3: Search for Missouri Permits and Licenses

Although the state of Missouri doesn’t require a general business license, you might still need a state license or additional licenses to run a certain business within the state. Specific industries in Missouri require business owners to obtain a license stating that they can conduct their chosen type of business.

For example, contractors need to obtain a building permit before starting a construction job. They’re issued locally, so businesses need to contact the building division in the city where the construction is taking place.

To distribute alcoholic beverages, businesses need a liquor license issued by the Missouri Department of Public Safety and a federal license granted by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.[5]

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

Even if you’ve obtained your federal and state licenses, you might need additional licenses to run your business in some Missouri cities and municipalities.

Each city has distinctive rules that make obtaining a business license all the more complex. Here are some examples of cities with specific business license regulations:

  • Jefferson City: All businesses must obtain a business license unless they fall into an exempted business group, which you can find on the official website.[6] For example, you need a Nonprofit Business License Application if you’re running a business inside the city limits that isn’t charging sales tax.

  • St. Louis: All businesses, occupations, callings, trades, or vocations must acquire a business license. You also need a separate license for each location in the city, each trade name you operate under, and every business registered under the same business address.[7]

  • Kansas City: Businesses that transact, generate revenue, and employ in the city need a special business license. Retail, food, and businesses with employees need a Missouri Sales Tax Number, and all food industries require a Health Permit.[8]

Step 5: Search for Missouri Professional Licenses

You must obtain certain professional licenses if you’re a business providing specific professional services. These are necessary regardless of whether you already own a state license. 

Some of the professions requiring these additional licenses are as follows:

  • Accountants

  • Dietitians

  • Social workers

  • Plumbers

  • Veterinarians

  • Pharmacists

  • Wrestlers

For a full list of professions that require a professional business license in Missouri, visit the Missouri Division of Professional Registration.

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

Establishing your small business as a home occupation is an excellent way to save time and money. What’s more, it’s perfectly legal in Missouri. However, you might need to acquire a special type of license depending on your business location and type of business.

If you plan to start a home-based business, you must inform yourself about which business licenses you need in specific cities, towns, and counties. There may also be specific rules to follow as a home-based business.

For example, in Jefferson City, the real estate must retain the residential look, permanent dwelling residents must operate the business, and there can not be more than eight additional vehicle trips for home-business purposes per day.[9]

Step 7: Maintain Your Missouri Business License

Your job isn't over once you obtain your business licenses and occupational tax certificate. You must maintain these documents at federal, state, and local levels to remain in good standing with the Missouri Secretary of State.

The cost of filing and renewal fees and the frequency of renewals depends on your business location and type of business. However, the typical cost of business license fees in Missouri is $50, plus a $25 application fee.

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of researching the fees and other business license requirements on your own, you can always rely on a service like Swyft Filings.

Apply for a Missouri Business License Online

As a new business owner, countless other things require your attention. That’s why we’re here to help. You can leave the business application process to us, and we’ll get in touch with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office for you, ensuring that your small business is ready to operate in no time.

Just input your information into our Business License questionnaire and leave the rest to us.

Stay Compliant in Missouri 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 Missouri?

The process to get your business license depends on where you plan to run your business and its type. If your business involves federal-level activities, you should contact the federal government. Local city halls and clerks are your point of contact for licenses issued by local authorities.

Does Missouri require a general business license?

Missouri doesn’t require a general business license at the state level. However, some cities, towns, and counties might require one. It’s best to check with the local city hall, city clerk, or Economic Development Office.

Can you sell things in Missouri without a license?

For a business to sell products or taxable services in Missouri, it must acquire a sales tax license with the Missouri Department of Revenue. 

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

There are no specific rules for online businesses in Missouri regarding business licenses. They are subject to the same rules as other businesses, meaning you must obtain a license to sell tangible goods or taxable business services.

Can I collect sales tax in Missouri without a license?

Taxpayers in Missouri must obtain a Missouri retail sales license before collecting tax within the state.[10] If you fail to do so, you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

How much does a Missouri business license cost?

Although you don’t need a general business license to operate in Missouri, cities and towns might require local licenses, each with unique costs. For example, to operate within city limits in St. Louis, you can expect to pay up to $200 for a business license, depending on the time of year. On the other hand, Jefferson City charges a license fee depending on the estimated gross sales for your business.[11]

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

If you’re a retail business making sales without a Missouri Retail Sales Tax License, you will receive a penalty of up to $500 for the first day of operation. With each passing day, the penalty increases by $100. The maximum penalty can reach $10,000.


  1. Missouri Department of Revenue. “Business Tax Registration.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  2. Missouri Division of Professional Registration. “Listings of Professions.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  3. Missouri Revisor of Statutes. “Taxation and Revenue.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  4. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Apply for Licenses and Permits.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  5. Missouri Department of Public Safety. “Alcohol & Tobacco Control.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  6. City of Jefferson. “Exempt Businesses.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  7. City of St Louis. “Business License Information.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  8. Kansas City. “Obtain a KCMO Business License.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  9. City of Jefferson. “Home Based Business.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  10. Missouri Department of Revenue. “Business Tax Registration FAQs.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

  11. City of Jefferson. “Business License Division.” Accessed July 25, 2023.

Originally published on September 21, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.
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