How to Apply for a Business License in Vermont

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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 byCarlos Serrano
Alexis Konovodoff
Edited byAlexis Konovodoff
Updated October 17, 2023

The initial formation stage of a business, whether limited liability company (LLC), sole proprietorship, or corporation, is filled with various administrative tasks that can quickly become overwhelming. But get these right, and your new business will be set up for success from the get-go.

Obtaining the necessary business license(s) is a major part of laying the groundwork for your Vermont business. Here’s everything you need to know about this process.

Vermont Business License: Key Takeaways

  • Vermont business licenses verify that your business complies with state regulations, and failing to obtain them can result in legal penalties and restrictions.

  • Vermont's state government typically requires a Sales and Use Tax license, also known as a seller's permit, for businesses selling taxable products or services. 

  • Vermont businesses often require both licenses and permits, including industry-specific, local, and professional licenses.

Navigate Vermont 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 is an official verification that your business entity operates in a manner vetted by the state of Vermont. Without a business license, you may face legal penalties and restrictions.

Your business will likely need more than one license to operate legally. Plus, there are usually several permits to consider. While a license is more general and typically allows you to run a specific business, a permit is more specialized and usually regulates specific actions you take. 

For instance, your Vermont business might need some of these permits:

  • Zoning permit

  • Signage permit

  • Health permit

  • Occupancy permit

  • Alarm permit

  • Environmental permit

The exact type and number of licenses and permits you’ll need depends on your business’s location. That's because these documents aren't only issued at the state level but also locally, at the city, county, or even municipality levels. 

Also, while both business registration and license application are necessary for your business to operate legally, they have nothing to do with one another. In other words, you must register your business with the Vermont Secretary of State Business Services Division and apply for the necessary licenses and permits with the appropriate regulatory body.

Get Your Vermont Business License in 7 Steps

Now that you understand the importance of obtaining the specific licenses and permits your business needs, how can you obtain yours? That’s what the following section is here to help you with.

Step 1: Apply for Vermont General Business Licenses

Some U.S. states require all businesses to have a general business license, regardless of what they do. Vermont isn’t one of these states. But just because your business doesn’t need a general license at the state level, it doesn’t mean it won’t need one at the local level. 

You should carefully research specific local licensing requirements and regulations applicable to your business in Vermont.

Step 2: Apply for Federal Licenses for Vermont Businesses

The federal government regulates some business types in the U.S.. As such, they must obtain a federal license, no matter where they operate. These businesses concern interstate commerce, public safety and security, and environmental protection, making them important to governmental agencies.

If your business falls under one of these categories, you can obtain a federal license by applying to the correct regulatory agency, as denoted in parenthesis:

  • Agriculture (Department of Agriculture)

  • Alcoholic beverages (Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)

  • Aviation (Federal Aviation Administration)

  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives)

  • Fish and wildlife (Fish and Wildlife Service)

  • Maritime transportation (Federal Maritime Commission) 

  • Mining and drilling (Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)

  • Radio and television broadcasting (Federal Communications Commission) 

For a complete list of affected industries and detailed descriptions of each activity, visit the U.S. Small Business Association’s website.

While a federal license is mandatory for these businesses, it’s not the end of the line regarding licensing. These businesses will likely need additional state licenses to operate legally.

Downtown Montpelier in the state of Vermont | Swyft Filings

Step 3: Search for Vermont Permits and Licenses

The only license required by the state government in Vermont is the Sales and Use Tax license, known as a seller’s permit. Of course, this license only affects businesses selling products and services subject to sales tax.

You can apply for this license online using the MyVTax portal. Alternatively, you can drop off your application in person or mail it to the following address:

Vermont Department of Taxes

P.O. Box 547

Montpelier

Vermont 05601-0547

Either way, there’s no filing fee for this license.

Other than the Sales and Use Tax license, your business will likely need some industry-specific licenses. Mandatory state licensing in Vermont affects numerous companies, including those related to alcohol production and sales, the environment, and food services.

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

Obtaining licenses and permits from the local government is typically the most confusing step for new business owners. While these documents usually involve less bureaucracy, local licenses are quite challenging to track down. 

You can always look for helpful resources online, but contacting your local tax office directly might be your safest bet. This way, you won’t miss any critical licensing requirements. 

For instance, the City of Burlington requires a general license for all businesses. It also requires some industry-specific permits, like liquor and cannabis licensing.[1] Similarly, restaurants, theaters, and gas stations operating in Montpelier will need a specific license from the clerk’s office.[2]

If you’re worried about getting all this right, you can also turn to a reliable third-party service like Swyft Filings. This way, you can rest assured your business licenses and permits are in good hands at all levels.

Step 5: Search for Vermont Professional Licenses

In Vermont, the Vermont Office of Professional Regulations regulates various professions.[3] If your business falls under one of these categories, you’ll need to obtain a professional license to operate it legally:

  • Accountancy

  • Architecture

  • Engineering

  • Nursing

  • Pharmacy

  • Private investigative and security services

  • Real estate

  • Social work

  • Veterinary medicine

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of all professions regulated by the Vermont Office of Professional Regulation. For this list, visit the Office’s website. Here, you’ll also find the contact information of the licensing administrator for your profession.

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

Regarding home-based businesses in Vermont, your city and county’s zoning laws will play a huge role in determining your business's necessary licenses and permits. These concern everything from operating hours to signage limits.

What you sell at your home-based business and who you sell to might also dictate your licensing requirements. For example, you can run a home-based food establishment selling baked goods that don’t require refrigeration. You won't need a license if you don’t earn more than $6,500 in sales yearly. But a business license is necessary if you exceed this amount or sell to restaurants.[4]

You should review your specific business activities to ensure you have the licenses and permits to operate a home-based business.

Step 7: Maintain Your Vermont Business License

Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is only the first step in operating your business legally in Vermont. The second step is maintaining these legal documents. 

Most licenses and permits are issued for a limited period. Once this period is up, your license is expired and will need to be renewed. Having an expired license is basically the same as having no license, so you should take this task seriously.

How long a license or a permit lasts in Vermont depends on its exact type. For instance, the Vermont Sales and Use Tax license doesn’t expire and, thus, doesn’t require renewal, which is a rare circumstance. Other licenses typically last from one to five years.

Apply for a Vermont Business License Online

From extensive research to tedious application and renewal forms, a lot goes into ensuring your business is state-compliant when it comes to licensing. Do you want to avoid dealing with all these steps and just jump straight to running your business? 

If so, leave the licensing tous. With our innovative Business License service, your business will be taken care of every step of the way, with minimal input on your behalf.

Stay Compliant in Vermont 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

FAQs

How do I get a business license in Vermont?

The process for obtaining a business license in Vermont depends on the type of license(s) your business needs. For instance, you can get a Vermont Sales and Use Tax license by establishing a Vermont Corporate or Business Tax Account with the Vermont Department of Tax at tax.vermont.gov and applying for a license.[5]

Does Vermont require a general business license?

No, Vermont doesn’t require a general business license. Of course, this doesn’t mean your business won’t need a license to operate in the state. It only means the licenses are issued case-by-case by local, government, and state agencies.

Can you sell things in Vermont without a license?

No, you can’t sell things in Vermont without a license. Obtaining a Sales and Use Tax license is one of the state requirements for selling products and services.

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

No, you don’t need a special license for an online business in Vermont. Online businesses are treated like brick-and-mortar stores, meaning you should focus on industry-specific licensing requirements.

Can I collect sales tax in Vermont without a license?

No, you can’t collect sales tax in Vermont without a license. The Sales and Use Tax license is the only way to demonstrate you’re authorized to collect taxes in Vermont. You should display this license visibly at your place of business.[6]

How much does a Vermont business license cost?

The cost of getting a Vermont business license depends on the license type and your business’s location. For instance, there is no filing fee for the Vermont Sales and Use Tax license, making it free of charge.

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

The penalty for not having a business license in Vermont depends on the type of business, its exact location, and the nature of your non-compliance. The most common penalties are hefty fines and moderate legal consequences. However, not obtaining the required federal licenses can also result in the government dissolving your business.


Bibliography

  1. The City of Burlington. “Liquor Licensing.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  2. The City of Montpelier. “Form Center: Business license.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  3. Vermont Secretary of State Office of Professional Regulation. “Professions.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  4. Vermont Department of Health. “Guide to Opening a Home-Based Food Business.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  5. Vermont Secretary of State Business Services Division. “Register a Business in Vermont.” Accessed July 26, 2023.

  6. Vermont Agency of Administration Department of Taxes. “Sales and Use Tax: Getting Started” Accessed July 26, 2023.

Originally published on September 20, 2023, and last edited on October 17, 2023.

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