How to obtain business license in Michigan

Updated on December 21, 2023


Acquiring the appropriate business license is essential for legally operating in Michigan. This comprehensive guide will detail the requirements for licenses, the types available, application processes, costs, necessary documents, compliance, and state-specific considerations.

Who Needs a Business License in Michigan?

Nearly all commercial businesses require licensing in MI including retailers, restaurants, service providers, rental properties, contractors, and independent professionals.

Penalties for non-compliance include fines up to $500 per offense, charges for unlicensed practice, permanent closure after multiple violations, and potential criminal prosecution.

Understanding Michigan Business Licenses

Common Michigan business licenses include:

  • Local city/township licenses – Required in most municipalities
  • Sales tax licenses – To collect & remit sales/use tax
  • Professional service licenses – For specialized occupations
  • Industry-specific licenses – Liquor, cannabis, scrap metal dealers etc.

Preparing to Apply for a License

Start by using the Michigan Business One Stop Portal to identify required permits and registrations for your business activities and locations using Michigan’s Business One Stop Portal.

You’ll also need to gather business formation documents, ownership details, commercial lease agreements, financial statements etc. Application fees vary widely based on number and type of licenses.

Step-By-Step Guide to Apply

Michigan facilitates online applications for licenses and permits. Visit the One Stop Portal, use the Licensing Wizard, select required licenses, provide business details, upload documents, pay fees, and await approvals.

Michigan offers simplified online applications for most license and permit types. To apply online:

  1. Create One Stop Portal acciybt
  2. Use the Licensing Wizard to determine obligations
  3. Select required licenses
  4. Provide requested business and ownership details
  5. Upload supporting documentation
  6. Pay fees
  7. Obtain approvals

After Submitting an Application

Online applications process within 15 business days typically. Monitor your status via One Stop Portal dashboard.

If issues occur, administrators contact applicants needing clarification or additional documents/details.

Maintaining Compliance

To remain compliant in MI once approved:

  • Prominently display license certificates at your place of business
  • Complete renewal applications prior to expiration dates
  • Remit monthly, quarterly or annual tax payments on time
  • Maintain legally required insurance coverage
  • Report changes in ownership structure, business activities, new locations etc.

Obtaining Federal Registrations

Typical federal registrations needed also:

  • Employer ID Number (EIN) – Business tax ID number
  • Trademark and copyright protections

Special Considerations

Special licensing rules for liquor sellers, cannabis dispensaries, casinos, auditors, accountants, tourism companies, automotive repair shops, scrap metal recyclers etc. Verify specific requirements with state regulatory agencies.

Registering Your Business Name

File assumed name certificates (DBAs) via the County Clerk’s office in Michigan.

Michigan Tax Permits

Common tax permits include Sales Tax License, Use Tax License, Withholding Tax Permit, and Alcohol Tax Permit.


Who Needs a Michigan Business License?

Most commercial entities in Michigan, such as retailers, service companies, and contractors, require a license.

What Do Licenses Cost in Michigan?

License costs vary from $10 to over $600, depending on the number and type of licenses. Renewal fees also apply.

How Long Does It Take to Get a License in Michigan?

The processing time for a business license in Michigan is typically 15 business days for online applications, but can vary based on specific license requirements.

Final Thoughts

Licensing your business in Michigan is crucial for legal operation and avoiding penalties. Utilize online application options for a more efficient process.

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.