With a population of over 9 million residents, New Jersey is considered one of the most urbanized states in the US. If you’re new to the Garden State or are looking to become a first-time business owner in New Jersey, properly setting up your new enterprise is critical to long-term success.
Whether you are launching the next big thing or fulfilling a lifelong dream, setting up a business in New Jersey starts with getting a business license from the proper authorities. Here’s what you need to know.
How To Get a Business License in NJ?
The primary purpose of a business license is to ensure that the products or services sold by a business are safe for the public to purchase or consume. For most businesses, getting a business license is one of the first steps that must be completed before starting operations.
Like many states in the US, New Jersey does not issue blanket business licenses applicable to all types of commercial activities. While certain industries are required to apply for a license on a state level (more on this later), most businesses are expected to apply to their local county or city government to get a business license in New Jersey.
The basic requirements for getting a business license are similar from one part of New Jersey to another. In Newark, which is New Jersey’s most populous city, this is what you need to do to get a business license application started:
- Go to Newark’s online business portal on the city’s website
- First-time applicants need to create a new account
- Be prepared to provide an email address, your full name, the business name and address, your mobile number, and a password
- You will also need to identify the type of business you plan to operate, for example, retail, restaurant, pet shop, etc.
- Pay the business license application fee (the amount is dependent on the type of business)
- Upload all required documents
Once you create an account and begin the registration process, you can monitor the progress of your business license application from initial filing to final approval.
Business License Application Requirements
Different business types have different business license filing requirements. For example, the business license application requirements for an establishment serving food to the public, such as a restaurant or café, will differ from those for a retailer selling clothing or a commercial building cleaning service.
Here are a few examples of different business types and their requirements for getting a business license in New Jersey.
Retail Business License
If you are planning to start a retail operation in New Jersey, these are the requirements you should expect to satisfy:
- A Certificate of Occupancy obtained from the property owner or a local government office
- A Business Registration Certificate issued by the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services
- Zoning approval for retail operations at your planned located
- A fire certificate issued by the local fire department
- Background (criminal history) checks performed by the New Jersey State Bureau of Investigation and the local police department
- Proof of compliance with local payroll tax laws and regulations
- Proof of waste removal services contracted for the business
- A health certificate issued by the local health authority
The application fee for a retail business license in Newark is $250.
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Flower Shop Business License
The requirements for getting a business license for a flower shop are not as stringent as a retail operation:
- A Certificate of Occupancy
- A Business Registration Certificate
- Background (criminal history) checks
- Proof of payroll compliance
Applying for a flower shop business license will cost around $200.
How Much Is a Business License in NJ?
The cost of getting a business license in New Jersey depends on the type of operation involved. Certain types of businesses are more expensive to set up than others. Here’s a look at some business license application fees for different business types to give you an idea of licensing costs:
- Bakery – $150
- Dog Kennel – $25 or more
- Dry Cleaners – $100 or more
- Meat Plant – $50 or more
- Public Garage – $200 or more
- Restaurant – $150 to $1500 or more
- Theaters & Exhibitions – $365 or more
Another factor determining the cost of getting a business license in New Jersey is the jurisdiction (e.g., town, city, county) that is responsible for licensing businesses around your planned location.
Other Requirements for Getting a Business License in NJ
A business license is a fundamental requirement for doing business in New Jersey. Most business licenses are issued by local city and county governments, but New Jersey has its requirements for businesses operating in the state:
- If your business structure is a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), C-Corporation, or S-Corporation, you must form and register your business with the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services (DORES)
- Regardless of structure, all businesses must register with DORES to comply with New Jersey’s state tax and employer contribution laws
- Businesses that will collect sales tax must also register with DORES
Another requirement applying to all businesses is obtaining an employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. This is required to manage employee payroll and file federal returns for the business.
Starting a new business in New Jersey is an exciting venture filled with promise. But before embarking on your enterprise, you must ensure that you comply with state and local regulations, starting with getting your business license squared away.