How to Apply for a Business License in Alabama (2023)

Updated on December 19, 2023

Starting a business in Alabama involves several key steps to comply with state and local regulations. This comprehensive guide outlines obtaining a business license in Alabama in 2023, using insights from the Alabama Department of Revenue and ZenBusiness.

1. Understand Your Alabama Business License Requirements

Before applying for an Alabama business license, you must identify the requirements based on your business activities, location, and legal entity type. Typically, you must provide your legal business name, location address, contact details, officer/owner information, Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN), date of organization, NAICS code, entity subtype, and commence date.

2. Obtain an Alabama Privilege License

In Alabama, businesses must acquire a privileged license, sometimes referred to as a business privilege license, from the probate judge in each county where they maintain an office or conduct operations. This license is valid annually from October 1st to September 30th, with fees varying by county.

3. Search for General Business Licenses

Unlike some states, Alabama does not mandate a statewide general business license. However, businesses must obtain a privileged license from each Alabama county in which they operate.

4. Acquire Federal Licenses for Specific Industries

Depending on your business type, you may also need special licenses or permits from federal agencies. These are often required for heavily regulated industries such as:

  • Agriculture
  • Aviation
  • Alcohol & firearms
  • Commercial fishing
  • Broadcasting

For example, a fishing tour company would require a NOAA fishing permit.

5. Obtain Your Alabama Sales Tax License

One license that almost every Alabama business needs is a state sales tax license, which allows you to legally collect, report, and remit sales tax. You can register for your Alabama sales tax license through the My Alabama Taxes (MAT) portal.

6. Secure Local Licensing at the City and County Levels

In addition to state-level licensing, check with local authorities about whether your Alabama business requires:

  • County business license
  • City business license
  • Various permits related to zoning, building codes, fire codes, health codes, etc.

For example, the city of Tuscaloosa has its own business licensing policies beyond the state requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Alabama privilege license?

An Alabama privilege license, also called a business privilege license, grants businesses the privilege to operate within a particular county in Alabama legally. You must obtain one annually from the probate judge in each county where your business has a physical location or conducts activities.

Does Alabama require a statewide business license?

No, there is no single statewide general business license mandated in Alabama. However, businesses in Alabama must obtain a privileged license in each county where they maintain facilities or do business.

I hope this guide gives you a good overview of the key steps in getting your Alabama business properly licensed and permitted to operate legally within the state. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Priyank Singh

Priyank Singh, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Stilt, specializes in technology-driven financial solutions. He is having experience of starting FinTech Company, understanding regulations and coming up with creative solutions to solve difficult problems.