Do you own a business operating in the state of Minnesota? If so, you may need to acquire licenses and permits to ensure that your company operates in a compliant fashion.

But how do you determine which permits and licenses you need (if any), and where do you acquire them? In this guide to Minnesota business licenses and permits, we’ll answer all the tough questions about this process.

Are There Federal Licenses That My Business Needs?

First off, let’s discuss the matter of federal licenses and permits. There are many business activities that are regulated by various federal agencies, from agriculture to transportation and logistics. We recommend taking a look at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s guide to federal licenses and permits to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

In addition, most businesses should acquire a federal tax ID number, also known as an EIN (employer identification number). This is essentially a social security number for your business, and it enables you to hire employees, pay business taxes, open business bank accounts, and more. You can acquire an EIN from the IRS for free.

What State-Level Licenses and Permits Apply in Minnesota?

There is no general business license to operate a commercial entity in the state of Minnesota. According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, “all kinds of businesses operate in Minnesota with no special permission or constraints. But others are closely regulated and may require one or more business, occupational or environmental licenses or permits.”

Thankfully, Minnesota makes it easy to determine your business licensing requirements with the Minnesota Elicensing Portal. This web portal allows business owners to find licensing information by “activity, administering agency, name of license, or with a keyword search.”

Which Tax Registrations are Required for Minnesota Businesses?

In addition to occupational licenses and permits, there are a number of state-level tax registrations, which are based on the industry you operate in and which business structure your company uses.

All Minnesota businesses will need to obtain a state taxpayer ID number, and most businesses will also need a state unemployment insurance account number. You can learn more about these registration requirements here.

Additionally, you should consult this page to find out how the state of Minnesota taxes income for various business types.

There are also many industry-specific tax registrations in the state of Minnesota, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Dry cleaners
  • Health care services
  • Business trusts
  • General sales and use businesses
  • Insurance companies
  • Pharmaceuticals

You can learn more about industry-specific tax requirements on the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.

Are There Local Licenses, Permits, or Registrations in Minnesota?

The answer to this question obviously depends on where in Minnesota you’re operating your business, but there are indeed quite a few licenses, permits, and tax registrations required by Minnesota localities.

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, “cities and counties may require a general business license that involves no more than registration and payment of a fee. In other cases, it may involve compliance with local ordinances specific to a particular type of business…larger cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul have licensing departments. Smaller ones may rely on the city clerk. In any case, a phone call or visit to your city or county offices can help you determine whether or not you need to meet local requirements.”

Additionally, many cities in Minnesota have business resource websites where you can learn about local licensing requirements, including cities like MinneapolisSaint PaulRochester, and Duluth.

If we were to break down the exact rules and regulations regarding permitting in every locality in the state of Minnesota, this article would become excessively lengthy. With that in mind, we’ll simply say that every business owner should check with their local government to determine whether there are licenses, permits, or tax registrations required to operate in compliant fashion.

Can I Hire Someone to Research Licenses and Permits for My Business?

If this process sounds like a bit of a hassle, that’s because it certainly can be. If you would rather hire a reputable business services provider to handle this for you, that is always an option.

ZenBusiness can research the necessary licenses and permits for your company on the federal, state, county, and municipal levels. We’ll then send you the applications you need to acquire these permits and licenses, meaning all you need to do is fill them out and mail them in. Plus, if you need help with company formation, we can help with that filing as well.


There is no one-size-fits-all answer for the question of which licenses and permits your business might require to operate in the state of Minnesota. Instead, it’s important that you know how to access the resources to determine which permits your company needs to operate in a compliant fashion.

We hope this article helped you to do just that, and we wish you good fortune in your business future!

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