If you’re starting an LLC in Maine, the business entity formation process is one of the first and most important hurdles. This step can beterribly ...
How to Get a Business License in Maine
Written by: Carolyn Young
Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
Edited by: David Lepeska
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Updated on May 2, 2023
How to Get a Business License in Maine
One of the most important elements of starting a business in Maine is making sure you have all the requisite licenses and permits. The requirements vary by state, some of which have as many as 300 different licenses and permits.
This article is too short to list them all, but it’s crucial that you’re aware of which ones your business needs and that you follow the steps for application and put your business on the road to success.
In Maine, businesses need certain licenses and permits to legally operate as a business. The regulatory hurdles required vary depending on the type of business, its location, and the products and services offered.
To help you launch your new business, this article lays out the most commonly needed permits and licenses in Maine — and details the steps required to acquire them.
Why are business licenses required in Maine?
Business licenses and permits are issued to certify that a business and its products and services are safe for the public. This explains why food businesses, for instance, require more licenses than most other business types.
Which agency issues business licenses in Maine?
In Maine, town and city governments issue the vast majority of licenses and permits, though some are issued by the state Department of Agriculture and the Division of Environmental and Community Health. For instance, the state agriculture department issues food and fuel licenses, while the environmental and community health division issues eating and lodging licenses.
Some licenses and permits are issued by cities or counties. So if you live in Bangor, you’ll need to check with the city to see if licenses or permits are required for your business.
Before you apply, it’s important to know which state or local agency issues the license you need. Check the state’s guidelines here to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
Steps to Get a Maine Business License
In Maine, the steps for acquiring specific licenses and permits vary widely, so it’s important to be aware of what you need, and how to get it.
Determine the Types of Licenses That You Need
The licenses you need will depend on the nature of your business. If you’re starting a restaurant, you’ll need food service licenses. If you sell tangible property or certain services you’ll need a sales tax permit. Agriculture-related businesses may need various environmental-related permits and licenses.
Maine’s online Business Answers service provides free information about doing business in Maine. The online Business Licensing Assistant will lead you through a series of questions about the type of business you are trying to start and provide a list of licenses, permits or qualifications you need.
Business Answers also includes a searchable directory that allows you to find a specific business license or permit by keyword, category, or agency.
Submit Your Business License Application
You’ll apply for various licenses and permits through the relevant departments. For example, you’ll apply for a sales tax permit with the Department of Revenue.
How much does a Maine business license cost?
Costs for licenses vary and range from zero for a sales tax permit to several thousand dollars for a liquor license.
In Maine, and most US states, jumping through all the hoops to acquire the necessary licenses and permits can be exhausting. But if you want to operate your business, you’ll have to wade through all the red tape. So get started on these regulatory hurdles as early as possible and clear the way for your entrepreneurial journey to success.
How fast can I get a business license in Maine?
Most business license applications are issued within a week or less, but times vary. Sales tax permit applications are generally reviewed within several days, while liquor licenses take a month or more.
Renew Your Licences When Needed
Most licenses must be renewed annually. Nominal fees are usually involved.
Types of Business Licenses
Your business may need local, state, and/or federal licenses and permits, depending on your type of business. Fees for these vary, but most costs are minimal.
Federal regulations associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific permits.
The most common permits and licenses include:
- Business operating licenses may be required by the city and the state to allow you to operate.
- Industry-specific licenses may be required, depending on your type of business. Businesses involved in construction, childcare, plumbing, electrical, food and liquor, insurance, finance, landscaping, and architecture all require licensing, for example. In some highly regulated industries, you may require licensing from a federal agency, such as the FDA or Department of Transportation.
- Zoning permits are issued by municipalities to ensure you’re operating in an area in which you’re allowed to operate.
- Building permits verify that the building you’re operating in is up to code. Home occupation permits, which some areas require, allow you to operate a business from your home.
- DBA permits allow you to do business under a name that is different from your legally registered business name.
- Sales tax permits allow you to sell products and collect sales tax.
- An employer identification number (EIN) is required if you plan to have employees, no matter what your business entity type.
- Health licenses and permits are required for certain businesses based on industry, and you will be required to maintain health and safety standards. Environmental permits are also required for certain industries in some locations.
- Fire permits certify that your business is up to fire safety codes. Depending on your location, this may be required for all businesses, while in other areas it’s required only if you work with flammable materials.
- Sign permits may be required for your location or other signage if there are rules about sign size and location.
Check with state and local government offices for specific requirements for your location and industry.
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