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What should I know about business licenses in Oregon?

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the pace of applications for new businesses since mid-2020 is the highest on record. Although more people than ever are filling out applications to make their business ideas a reality, starting a business is not as easy as hanging up a sign and starting to sell a product or service. State and federal authorities expect business owners to follow certain rules and regulations.

As such, business owners are wise to become familiar with these requirements before starting their business. One of these requirements is business licensing.

Who regulates business licensing?

There are a number of different state agencies that regulate businesses licenses in Oregon. Some examples include the Construction Contractors Board, Department of Agriculture, and Oregon Medical Board. Business owners can check Oregon’s business license directory to help determine which agency regulates their licensing requirements.

Depending on the market and product of the business, additional regulations may be present by federal agencies and trade boards.

What are some common mistakes when it comes to getting a business license?

Business owners who can avoid common mistakes are more likely to set themselves up for success. Oregon’s Office of Small Business Assistance notes some of the more frequent issues it encounters include the following:

  • Thinking registration with the Secretary of State is enough. Many business owners believe that they meet their licensing requirements when they register their business with the Secretary of State. This is not true. This step simply reserves the name of the business. Additional work to get applicable licensing is still required.
  • Local codes apply to home businesses. There are some local ordinances that may require certain licensing for home occupations, or a business in a home residence. Local authorities have these ordinances to help better ensure business operations do not disrupt the surrounding neighborhood.
  • There is not just one license. There are situations when a business may need more than one business license. Do not think that since you have a single business license you have meet all of your obligations.

It is not uncommon to need more than one license.

What are the different types of business licenses?

Some businesses will require a federal business license. This can apply to businesses that work in the agriculture, broadcasting, and transportation markets. State and local authorities may require additional licensure as noted above, and certain professions also require a trade license. Common examples of fields that require trade licenses are those in the medical profession like doctors, nurses, dentists, hairdressers, accountants, attorneys, electricians, and plumbers. Professional boards regulate this license and ensure the public receives safe services within this market.

What if I am shipping a product to another state?

States generally do not require a license when businesses ship products into their state. However, these states may have state level sales taxes. Oregon generally does not have these requirements, but other states may. Businesses are wise to get this information to help ensure they follow applicable tax laws.