Start a business?Here’s how to get a business license in Pennsylvania and some helpful resources

Obtaining the required business license can be difficult, even for seasoned business owners like restaurateur Juan Placencia.

“I’m on my feet a little bit, but I’m still having a hard time driving,” Placencia said.

Placencia previously owned two restaurants and most recently ran a cloud kitchen (no dine-in, just a delivery-only commercial kitchen), and Placencia has gone through the commercial licensing process several times before and in different states. Now, he’s starting the process all over again when he starts new at Brazas BBQ Chicken, a Peruvian roast chicken restaurant on South Street in Philadelphia.

If you do business in Pennsylvania then you need at least one or more licenses.

First, every business in Philadelphia must obtain a business activity license to operate in the city. Depends on your business – restaurant, apartment rental, entertainment, etc. — You will have more and more specific licenses to apply for. This can be tricky.

“One of the things I did that was really helpful in trying to get all these licenses and permits was finding local groups and organizations that were specific to your industry or type of business,” Placencia said. “I joined Greater Philadelphia Spain American Chamber of Commerce. I also belong to the Mexican Business Owners Association of Philadelphia.”

Keep in mind that Philadelphia can be a difficult city to do business due to the city’s taxes and regulations on new and small businesses.

There are many aspects to ensuring your business is on the upright, including registering your business in the state, obtaining a federal tax identification number, zoning ordinances, and other business requirements.

This guide will break down how Find the business license you need and how to apply.

key takeaways

  • be patient. Obtaining a business license can be a lengthy process, requiring multiple back-and-forths between government agencies.
  • Find out which business licenses you need by Government websites, business resource centres or local business organisations.
  • Some business licenses cost money. Business license fees range from free to $500, depending on the business you are in.
  • In-person visit to the government agency that issued the license you need. You can call or visit their website, but the most effective way is to answer your questions in person.
  • record everything. You will get documents and tasks that need to be done throughout the process. From the agencies you talked to to the steps you’ve already completed, write it all down and save it for later.

Business license is Documents proving doing business with government agencies and allowing them to do business in a specific area – such as city, state or country. They come in the form of licenses and permits and are issued by local, state and federal agencies.

You’ll be doing legitimate business in almost any situation. Whether you are selling a product or providing a service, you need government certification to conduct that business.

it depends. Some businesses will get a free license, while others will pay hundreds of dollars in licensing and licensing fees. For example, if your business only needs a business activity permit from the city, then you will pay $0. However, if you need a food preparation and serving license, there may be a license fee of $275 to $415. The food truck license fee is $341.

No – unless you have a formal business such as an LLC or a brick and mortar store. Most places where you sell items online do not require you to have a business license. This includes eBay, Facebook, Shopify and Craigslist.

No, because you work for Uber, Lyft, or any delivery service that hires you. The employer must have a business license, but you as the driver do not.

According to Placencia, Business owners must conduct their own due diligence to obtain the required licensesIn his experience, getting in touch with different government agencies is difficult because agencies usually don’t communicate with each other – often one agency can only answer questions about the specific licenses they issue.

“Calling any department or any of these entities is probably the least efficient way to communicate or answer these questions,” he said. “I’ve found that the best way to ask questions is by appointment or in person.”

Here’s what you can do to get started:

  • Find out which licenses your business needs on federal, state, and local government agency websites.
  • Get help from the following business resources.
  • Schedule an appointment or visit a government agency in person.

“No matter who you’re talking to, you should record the name and title of the department you’re talking to so you can refer to it next time,” Placencia said.

The following resources are available to learn more about business licenses and to get help applying.

This free online tool is for Philadelphia business owners to plan, start and expand their business in the city. you can find All business licenses You need (by business category) on this site. It will provide you with a list of required documents including business licenses, tax documents and other proofs. Visit to get started.

Pennsylvania business owners can use this free online tool to find out what licenses they need. It provides an interactive checklist and business plan template to help guide you through the process.

You can call 1-833-722-6778 for assistance, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays. Visit to get started.

These resource centers provide free business services to Pennsylvania entrepreneurs. Here you can get on-site guidance on which business licenses you need, application help, and free business training and events. In the Philadelphia area, Temple University and Widener University both have SBDCs. You can apply for a free business consultation online.

🌐 📞 877-472-7232

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are nonprofit organizations that provide services to communities in areas such as housing, employment, business, and more. You can find information on which licenses you need, or find recommendations of other places that can help. This is a list of CDC Small Business Resources.

🌐 📞 215-732-5829 📍1315 Walnut Street, Suite 1600

A local nonprofit that provides workshops, business planning, and small business consulting to entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area.

🌐 📞 215-247-2473 📍 7500 Germantown Avenue, Elders Hall, Suite 113

This free resource center at the Free Library of Philadelphia helps mature business owner Access a variety of research databases, commercial resources, and public program information to help meet commercial needs.

🌐 📞 215-686-8663 📍 1901 Vine Street

You need to apply for a business license from the agency that issued the business license. Each level of government has a different website where you can apply for a license.

Find out which federal business licenses, if any, you need on the Small Business Administration (SBA) website. There, you’ll find information on all permits issued by the federal government, including agriculture, radio and television broadcasting, and transportation. You can get help with your federal business license from a free advisor using the SBA’s Help Finder.

The Pennsylvania Licensing System (PALS) is your website for applying for a state business license. Here you can view all the requirements and documents required to apply for a license. They have an application checklist on their homepage to help you along the way. Find out which business licenses you need and apply at

The City of Philadelphia has a list of all business licenses offered through the city on its website. Here you can see if your business is included on the business license list and get instructions on how to apply for a license. To get help from the City, visit the Office of Business Services website at

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