Do you own a business operating in the state of Virginia? 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 Virginia 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 Virginia?

The state of Virginia does not have a general business license that applies statewide to every business entity, as some states do. However, depending on the nature of your business, there could be several licenses or permits that you may be required to obtain.

To determine which permits you need to operate a compliant business, we recommend that you pay a visit to the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Here you’ll find resources about what occupations need licenses, license application forms, and renewals for expired licenses. If you need to check whether or not one of your workers has acquired the necessary licenses, you can use the state’s license lookup.

Occupational Licenses and Permits

The occupational licenses and permits required by the state of Virginia vary widely, from professional boxers to real estate appraisers and many points in between. Depending on the exact nature of your business, you might need more than one of these permits. You can browse a list of regulated occupations here. If you see an occupation that applies to your business, simply click on it. You’ll be redirected to more information and application forms for the licenses needed by that occupation.

Which Tax Registrations are Required for Virginia 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.

In Virginia, all corporations and LLCs taxed as corporations are subject to the state’s corporate income tax. Meanwhile, pass-through entities will pay individual income taxes. Unlike some states, Virginia does not levy a franchise tax that applies to all businesses.

Income taxes are the most common concern for a business; however, you may be subject to other taxes, too. In Virginia, there are many industry-specific tax registrations in the state of Virginia, including litter taxes, apple excise taxes, and more. You can browse Virginia’s miscellaneous taxes here. You’ll find more information on these taxes as well as the forms you’ll need to pay them.

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

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

The state of Virginia allows its localities to require a general business license if they wish. So, while you won’t need a general business license from the state, you may need one from your city or county. For example, RichmondNorfolk, and Virginia Beach all require local licenses. It’s important to check your city’s website for what permits and licenses are specific to your location..

If we were to break down the exact rules and regulations regarding permitting in every locality in the state of Virginia, 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 Virginia. 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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