How To Get Wisconsin Business License | Full Guide

Business Licenses are needed by city laws to regulate business operations and occupations to protect the public and collect tax revenue. Obtaining a business license help the government to identify illegal business operations and helps to protect people from getting harmed.

If you are into any profession, occupation, business, or trade, you need to apply for a business permit in the city or state where your business is located.

What is a Business License?

A business license is a grant given by the government to allow these businesses to operate in a specific region.

Local, state, or federal governments can issue business permits. There usually are unique requirements for various businesses in various locations.

Is a Business License required in Wisconsin?

Yes, of course, you need a business license to run a business in Wisconsin. Although, there is no general license. However, many cities need a business permit before you can go on with your business operation.

Your location and the type of your business determine your requirements for obtaining a business license. Here are some cities under Wisconsin that have licensing rules.

Madison – tattoo parlor, bicycle dealers, secondhand dealers, and so on, all need to get a business license from the city clerk’s office.

 Kenosha – gas stations, massage studios, towing services, dog kernels, and others in this city need to obtain a business registration.

Milwaukee – businesses, such as food dealers, limo services, tattoo studios, pawnbrokers, etc. require a permit from the Milwaukee city clerk office to operate

Green bay – food vendors, alcohol sellers, tree trimmers, and others all have to acquire a business permit.

How do I find who owns a business in Wisconsin?

To acquire details of an organization or business entity in Wisconsin, you can run a search on the Secretary of State of Wisconsin website.

NB: while most states offer basic search free of charge, some may charge a fee for more detailed information.

What licenses or certificates are required for an e-commerce business in Wisconsin?

E-commerce businesses should be registered legally, just like every other business should. These requirements will be discussed later in this article.

What kind of business permit do I need for lawn care in Wisconsin?

Lawncare and Landscape Business should comply with Wisconsin’s business certification and business license requirements.

How do I check if a business name is taken in Wisconsin?

Checking if a business name has already been file is one of the requirements of starting a new business. Below are a few steps to take before choosing a name for your business.

Apply Wisconsin Naming Guidelines

Make sure your business name follows Wisconsin naming guidelines before completing your name search. Be sure to check the following.

Your business should not match with government agency names such as F.B.I., State Department, Treasury, etc.

Your business name must include ‘Limited Liability Company’ or its abbreviation (L.L.C. or LLC)

Your entity name must be distinguishable from any other Wisconsin L.L.C., corporation, or limited partnership.

You may need additional paperwork and a licensed individual such as Doctors or lawyers to be part of your Wisconsin L.L.C. while using Restricted words like Attorney, Bank, University, etc.

Before choosing a name for your business while filling your paperwork, you must perform a name search. You can do this on Wisconsin Name Availability Search website. Also, while typing in your intended business name, do not include identifiers such as ‘L.L.C.’ and the likes.

Reserve your Business Entity name

You must apply by main to reserve a business name. The Wisconsin Department of Corporate and Consumer and Consumer services oversees all L.L.C. naming and requests.

How to obtain a business license in Wisconsin

After selecting the appropriate name for your business, proceed by obtaining your business license. You can obtain a business license by mail or online by applying for your business’s appropriate regulatory or licensing agency. As said earlier, your business’s activity and location determine the requirements for your business license.

Many businesses must complete the Business tax registration, making them eligible to register for several other tax permits with the Wisconsin seller’s permit inclusive. If you are engaged in a business in Wisconsin or intend to sell or lease personal property or services that would be subject to sales tax or sold at retail, you must obtain a tax permit. Visit the Department of Revenue to get a seller’s permit.

Requirements needed for registering for your Business license

Below are the typical documents and information you will need as you apply for your business license.

Your personal phone number and address

  • A federal Tax ID or Employer Identification Number (E.I.N.)
  • The business’s address or phone number
  • Wisconsin seller’s permit number (if you sell goods)
  • You Driver’s license number
  • A business plan with your expected revenue and expenses.
  • A certificate of Insurance (C.O.I.) that shows that you carry a business insurance policy (may or may not be required depending on your business)

It’s good to have these documents organized in a folder prior to the time of application.

Securing professional and trade licenses

While some businesses do not require a license be operating, many do. It is important that you check if you need a license for your business. If you do, follow the official process for your profession, and it’s different for each profession. Check out these sites to see if you need a license.

  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of Health Services

Obtaining a local Business permit

You may need other business permits or licenses depending on your kind of business or location. For instance, the City of Milwaukee requires different types of business to obtain a city business license. Get in touch with your local county or town government for more info. They can also help you with the zoning requirements.

How much does the Wisconsin Business license cost?

Obtaining a Wisconsin business license costs $20. Try to budget for the following cost also:

  • Getting a trademark (if needed)
  • Purchasing business Insurance, including workers’ compensation (if you have employees)
  • Securing a local business license or permit
  • Registering your business’s name in Wisconsin.

These fees may vary due to your location and business type.

Also, Wisconsin Business Tax Registration must, which includes your seller’s permit, must be renewed every two years, which costs $10. A notice will be sent whenever the permit is due for renewal.

Apply for your Business permit with the links below

Click Here to apply online on Wisconsin’s One-Stop Portal

Click Here to download the form

Is it important to obtain a business permit?

Yes, it is. Having a business permit provides aura and prestige of stability to your business that will attract investors and customers.

Although you might go through a little stress while trying to obtain it, trust me, the reward is worth it. I know you would not want to start a business without a license, and in the long run, the government discovered you don’t have a license and swung into action by fining you with a huge amount of money. To avoid this, obtain a business permit!

What are the types of business licenses?

There are many types of business licenses. These include licenses at the local, state, and federal levels, licenses related to sales tax and other taxes, and specific licenses for various professions. There are also environmental licenses, zoning permits, and more.

Is there a national business license?

Most businesses don’t need a federal business license, but some industries, including broadcasting, investment advising, and drug manufacturing, do have federal regulations and licenses.

Who needs a Wisconsin business license?

Businesses that sell goods or services subject to the state sales tax need a Wisconsin seller’s permit. Businesses in certain locations or professions may need other specific licenses.

Is an E.I.N. the same as a business license?

No. An employer identification number (E.I.N.) is issued by the I.R.S. to identify and keep track of businesses, but it does not license them to operate.

Is an L.L.C. considered a business license?

No. An L.L.C. is a type of business structure. While you are required to register as an L.L.C., it is not a business license.


To protect the public and collect taxes, the city requires business licenses to regulate business operations. A business license is a way for the government to identify illegal business operations and protect the public from harm.


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