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How to Get a Business License in Minnesota

Written by:

Coralee is a business writer with experience in administrative services, education, and software testing.

Edited by:

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.

How to Get a Business License in Minnesota

One of the most important elements of starting a business in Minnesota 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 Minnesota, 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 Minnesota— and details the steps required to acquire them. 

Why are business licenses required in Minnesota?

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 Minnesota?

In Minnesota, the Department of Commerce issues the vast majority of licenses and permits, though some are issued by the Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor and Industry. For instance, the state Department of Agriculture issues pet food processing permits, while the Department of Public Safety issues truck driver’s permits.  

Some licenses and permits are issued by cities or counties. So if you live in Minneapolis, 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 Minnesota Business License

In Minnesota, 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 your business needs in Minnesota will reflect state and local regulations in combination with your business’s general type and nature. 

For example, some city revenue departments require general business licenses. Alternatively, businesses seeking to sell liquor must first acquire the necessary licensure from the state of Minnesota and their local government.

To safely run your business, reviewing all requirements and verifying that your business is properly licensed is essential.

Submit Your Business License Application

Businesses in Minnesota can review and apply for several different business licenses and permits online using Minnesota’s E-licensing service. 

Additional licenses are filed with various state and local departments of Minnesota, so it’s best to double-check where to file a given form with the state’s Department of Revenue or Small Business Assistance Office. You can also contact either agency directly for more information at the phone numbers below.

Department of Revenue: 651.556.3000
Small Business Assitance Office: 651.556.8425

How much does a Minnesota business license cost?

Business license fees in Minnesota depend on which license you apply for within a particular city or county. For example, a state sales tax permit costs businesses $0, a commercial dog and cat breeder’s license will cost a business $10, and a state athlete agent license costs $500. 

Alternatively, a business in the city of Saint Paul can obtain a tanning facility license for $97, or a parking garage license for $375.

In Minnesota, 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 Minnesota?

Processing times are dependent on the individual license and the county your business is located in. 

For example, lodging licenses take two weeks for the Minnesota Department of Health to process, while a food handler license usually takes one week. 

Local government offices tend to provide loose processing estimates for business licenses. For instance, a business seeking a window cleaning license will likely need to schedule an inspection with the City of Saint Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections before licensure.  

When available, filing online usually helps speed up the process.

Renew Your Licences When Needed

In Minnesota, several licenses are required to be renewed every one or two years. For example, a caterer’s permit is valid for one year from its date of issuance, while real estate licenses are valid for two years and must be renewed biennially by June 30th. 

Be sure to check with both the state and your local county for renewal regulations and fees regarding the licenses your business needs. 

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: 

  1. Business operating licenses may be required by the city and the state to allow you to operate. 
  2. 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.
  3. Zoning permits are issued by municipalities to ensure you’re operating in an area in which you’re allowed to operate.  
  4. 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.
  5. DBA permits allow you to do business under a name that is different from your legally registered business name.
  6. Sales tax permits allow you to sell products and collect sales tax
  7. An employer identification number (EIN) is required if you plan to have employees, no matter what your business entity type. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Sign permits may be required for your location or other signage if there are rules about sign size and location.

Check with the state and local government offices for specific requirements for your location and industry.

Type of business licenses and permits


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How to Get a Business License in Minnesota