How to Apply for a Business License in Oregon

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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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As a business owner of an Oregon limited liability company, corporation, or non-profit organization, you must obtain a business license. But what exactly does the business license application process look like in Oregon? Also, is there a general business license in this state? 

Keep reading for accurate and concise answers to these and many other questions.

Oregon Business License: Key Takeaways

  • An Oregon business license allows your business to conduct operations within the state's boundaries.

  • Oregon does not require a general state license for businesses; however, this doesn't exempt enterprises from other types of permits, such as professional or city business licenses.

  • After acquiring a business license, businesses must also prioritize maintaining their licenses through regular renewals. 

Navigate Oregon 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?

The state of Oregon is incredibly conducive to prosperous enterprises. As a result, it’s no wonder you’ve decided to form your limited liability company or corporation here. You may have already reserved your business name, selected a doing-business-as (DBA) name, and picked a registered agent to handle your annual reports.

The next part should be to acquire your business license. A business license permits your small business or any other type of business to operate legally in a particular place. 

For example, a state license provided by Oregon authorities may only apply within state boundaries. If you want to transport your goods elsewhere, you’ll probably need federal permission.

This brings us to a critical point — business licenses and ordinances can come from various government levels:

  • Federal

  • State

  • Municipality

  • County

  • City

Furthermore, keep in mind that you’re not allowed to start your business activity by simply registering your enterprise. That’s because the registration process doesn’t automatically provide you with a permit. You must file for your Oregon business separately to remain legal and preserve your good standing with the Secretary of State.

Get Your Oregon Business License in 7 Steps

One of the tenets of the Oregon state government is economic development, and your organization plays a pivotal role in it. The better your products and services, the more you contribute to the state’s prosperity.

However, you can’t take on such a vital role without a business license and occupational tax certificate. The good news is that the application process is relatively straightforward. Here are the basics.

Step 1: Apply for Oregon General Business Licenses

The state of Oregon is a bit lenient on business licenses. For one, you don’t need a general state license in Oregon. This might change, but as of today, the Business Information Center guarantees that this permit isn’t required in the Beaver State.[1]

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean your work is over when you register your enterprise. Just because you don’t need a general permit doesn’t mean you receive an exemption from other licenses. For instance, the state might mandate professional or city business licenses. 

The upcoming sections will delve deeper into those authorizations.

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Oregon Businesses

Depending on your structure and the type of products or services you offer, you may need to be authorized by federal authorities to do business.

However, there isn’t a universal government organization that rolls out permissions. Instead, several departments and agencies oversee certain business activities:

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service: Licenses for commercial fishing, such as fishing with nets, gillnets, harvesting shellfish, and line fishing

  • Federal Aviation Administration: License for operating aircraft to transport passengers or products

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives: License for manufacturing, importing, and dealing in different types of ammunition, explosives, and weapons

  • Department of Agriculture: License for selling animals, plants, animal products, and related biotechnology

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: License for wildlife operations, like import and sales of wildlife and related products

The federal government licenses many other business activities. For a detailed overview, navigate to the U.S. Small Business website.[2]

The cityscape of Eugene, Oregon | Swyft Filings

Step 3: Search for Oregon Permits and Licenses

The federal government is often an all-encompassing body for licenses. But when you dig deeper into the state level, you’ll find a few additional licenses required by state agencies. This applies to most states, including Oregon.

Here are a few examples of when you need a state license in Oregon:

  • You’re a manufacturer, retailer, or wholesaler of alcoholic beverages in Oregon and need a liquor or alcohol license.

  • You’re a food vendor making or selling dishes from your home and need a domestic kitchen permit.

  • You’re expanding your premises and need a building permit.

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

State guidelines apply to all of Oregon, regardless of your municipality or county. For example, every for-profit company must obtain a business tax certificate and abide by Oregon’s Revised Statutes and ordinances.[3] There is also no sales tax in Oregon, meaning you don’t need a sales tax permit to run your organization.[4]

Other laws are more specific and come from your municipality, county, or city. 

For instance, suppose you’ve started an enterprise in Salem. If so, you must apply for a city business license if your business activity is as follows:

  • Marijuana business

  • Multi-family housing unit, such as a hotel or motel

  • Taxi company

  • Mobile food company

  • Entertainment business, such as a carnival or circus

A full list of the companies that need a Salem city license is available on the City of Salem website.[5] Alternatively, you can consult the city hall or tax office for more information.

Portland is similar to Salem in terms of licensing requirements. Besides the abovementioned activities, you may also need a building permit to expand or modify your premises. Likewise, a license from the health department might be necessary if you’re an occupational therapist.

Contact the Portland Bureau of Licenses for more details about the city’s permits.

Step 5: Search for Oregon Professional Licenses

Some professions require a special license in Oregon. These include:

  • Plumbers

  • Doctors

  • Lawyers

  • Electricians

  • Home inspectors

The organizations that oversee your business activity issue permits. For example, the Oregon Medical Board licenses any company that practices medicine in the state.[6] Contact your specific governing organization for more information.

Step 6: Apply for an Oregon Home-Based Business License

If you’ve launched your company at a non-standard business location, the state of Oregon may require you to acquire particular permits. This is especially true if you’ve opted for a home occupation.

Let’s assume you live in Newberg and your enterprise is at your home address. In that case, you’ll need a Type I Land Use review and a special City Business License.[7]

The same may apply to other cities. The easiest way to determine the necessary permits is to contact your local office.

Step 7: Maintain Your Oregon Business License

We’ve finally reached the end of your business license process. As soon as you get the green light from the state of Oregon or your city, you can reap the benefits of being a business owner and start selling.

However, maintaining the permit is just as important. This is done through renewals, which usually take place every year. So, don’t forget to renew your license at least a few weeks before expiration.

Apply for an Oregon Business License Online

If you’re researching business licenses for your Oregon business, we deliver best-in-class results with our affordable business license application process. Simply navigate to our Business License Flow page, and you’re good to go. 

We’ll take care of your small business permit with minimal involvement on your part. Our team goes to great lengths to research the requirements for your enterprise, so rest assured knowing you’re receiving the most detailed services available.

Stay Compliant in Oregon 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 Oregon?

You must apply with the relevant authority to get a business license in Oregon. You can find yours on the License Directory Search website.

Does Oregon require a general business license?

No. Oregon doesn’t require a general business license, but you still might need one from local planning departments or municipal codes.

Can you sell things in Oregon without a license?

You can’t sell products or services in Oregon without a business license, as doing so is illegal. 

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

No special license is required for online businesses in Oregon, be it a standard or home-based business.

Can I collect sales tax in Oregon without a license?

Oregon doesn’t have a sales tax, so there’s no need to worry about collecting it.

How much does an Oregon business license cost?

Oregon doesn’t have a general business license. Still, you may need to pay business license fees when applying for other permits with local bodies.

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

Apart from fines, you may compromise your good standing with the Secretary of State if you don’t have a license.


  1. Oregon Secretary of State. “State License Requirements — Business Information Center.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  2. U.S. Small Business Administration. “Apply for Licenses and Permits.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  3. Oregon Legislature. “Oregon Revised Statutes.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  4. Tax Foundation. “Taxes in Oregon.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  5. City of Salem. “Determine if You Need a Business License.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  6. Oregon Secretary of State. “Oregon Medical Board.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  7. City of Newberg. “Do I Need a Permit for My Home Business?” Accessed July 26, 2023.

Originally published on September 18, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.
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