Business Licenses and Permits for LLCs

An Iowa business license, also called Iowa Self Tax Permits, is required for many companies to do business in Iowa counties and cities. There's no general business license for the entire state, and not every company needs a license.

After forming your LLC, you should comply with all county and city permit and license requirements. The specific regulations depend on your industry and your location. If you don't obey these rules, your business could be banned from the state, or you could have to pay a fine or deal with another penalty. Many licenses and permits are related to the environment, health, safety, building designs, and construction. Different permits and licenses are available, and they're issued by several state agencies.

Types of Licenses and Permits You Might Need in Iowa

Here are some common licenses and permits that people use often in Iowa:

  • City business licenses
  • Tax permits
  • Building permits
  • Occupational permits
  • Health permits
  • Alarm permits
  • Signage permits
  • Zoning permits
  • Alcohol and tobacco permits
  • Sales and use tax permits
  • Seller or reseller permits

Business License and Permit Applications in Iowa

To learn which permits and licenses your business needs, contact your city or county or use the state's City/County Finder. The Iowa Business License Information Center's Licensing Resources for Small Business Guide also contains lots of helpful information.

Information for Iowa Small Businesses

The Iowa Economic Development Authority, or IEDA, is devoted to helping small businesses. The Entrepreneurial Assistance section of the website offers information about financing, licensing, the best locations for your business, supporting innovation, and more. The SBA, or Small Business Administration, has a district office in Des Moines. You can visit the website for information on upcoming events, additional resources, and the latest news for small businesses.

The Iowa Self Tax Permit Form

You should use the Iowa Self Tax Permit Form if your business pays sales tax, car rental tax, use tax, or withholding tax. Corporations and partnerships should also fill it out. You can complete the online version or print it and send it to Registration Services at the Iowa Department of Revenue. To complete the form, you'll need some basic facts about your business:

  • The name
  • The location
  • The FEIN number  or Social Security Number
  • The form of ownership
  • The number of workers
  • Tax information
  • Permitting requirements

Form of Business Record Filing

Some forms of business, like corporations and LLCs, or limited liability companies, must file records through the state in addition to getting licenses or permits. These records are called organizational documents, and you should register them with the Iowa Secretary of State.

Get Professional Licensing

People in lots of occupations and professions should be licensed by the state:

  • Accountants
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Landscape architects
  • Land surveyors
  • Real estate appraisers
  • Real estate brokers
  • Interior designers

Many other licenses are distributed by different state agencies. For example, many health professionals, like chiropractors and optometrists, are licensed by the Department of Public Health's Bureau of Professional Licensure, also called the BPL.

Register a Business Name if Needed

Plenty of small businesses conduct business under a business name, also called an assumed name, a trade name, a fictitious name, or a DBA for "doing business as." Some companies register using a different name first, also called the registered name, true name, or actual name. Businesses, including corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs, must register any assumed names they plan to use with the Secretary of State. General partnerships and sole proprietorships that will use a trade name should file with the county recorder in counties where they'll do business.

Register a Service Mark or Trademark

Trademarks, trade names, and service marks all have different legal definitions. They uniquely identify a service, product, or business that's distinct from any competitors. You can register trademarks and service marks federally or with the state. 

Permits or Licenses Required in Des Moines

Some businesses must get specialized licenses or permits from the City of Des Moines, including pawn shops, street vendors, and stores that sell alcohol or cigarettes. Sole proprietorships may need to conform with other requirements as well.

If you need help with your Iowa business license, you can post your legal need or post your job on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.