Most businesses need some sort of license or permit to operate; whether it needs to be obtained at the city, state, or federal level depends on what type of business you are running. In addition, some business may need to obtain special permits from local health authorities, building inspectors, and police/fire departments.

Federal Licences and Permits

Most small businesses do not require federal licenses or permits to operate unless they deal with:

  • Providing investment advice
  • Preparing meat products
  • Selling alcohol, tobacco, and firearms

It is best to consult an attorney regarding  regulatory requirements. While your business may not fit in one of the above categories, it is best to make sure you are in compliance with federal regulation before starting your business.

State Licenses and Permits

For information regarding state licenses, contact:

Business Link North Carolina (BLNC)
NC Department of Commerce
4344 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4344
(919) 807-4280 (in Raleigh) or (800) 228-8443

The services provided by this office include:

  • Individualized assistance from counselors in identifying the correct licenses and permits
  • Customized information packages including applications and instructions on applying for licenses and permits
  • Resource center for information on over 700 business licenses and permits

To determine liability for license fees/taxes, contact:

NC Department of Revenue
501 North Wilmington Street
PO Box 25000
Raleigh, NC 27640
(877) 252-3052

Special licenses and permits

In certain situations, you will need to obtain a specific industry license or permit. The Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) office should be able to help you in this area, or refer to the numbers listed below:

  • BLNC (919) 807-4280 or (800) 228-8443
  •  Alcoholic Beverage Permit (919) 779-0700
  •  Rest Home License (919) 855-3765
  • Architecture License (919) 733-9544
  • Auctioneer License (919) 567-2844
  • Barber Examiners License or Cosmetic Arts License (919) 733-4117
  • Electrical Contractors License (919) 733-9042
  • General Contractors License (919) 571-4183
  • Board of Funeral Service (919) 733-9380
  • Plumbing & Heating Contractors (919) 875-3612
  • Real Estate (919) 875-3700
  • Nursing Home or Home Health Facility (919) 733-7461
  • Child Day Care License (800) 859-0829

This is only a partial list. To verify the requirements for your business, contact Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) at (800) 228-8443 or in Raleigh at (919) 807-4280.

City or Local Licenses and Permits

All for-profit businesses within city limits require a privilege license to operate.

All the information you need on what local licenses and permits you need for your business can be found here:

Wake County

Durham County

Orange County