How to obtain a business license in Missouri

Updated on December 21, 2023

Operating a business in Missouri comes with certain legal obligations, including obtaining proper business licenses and registrations. While the licensing process may seem complicated, this guide breaks down all the key steps for successfully registering your Missouri business.

Who Needs a Business License in Missouri?

In Missouri, any person or company conducting business activities within the state likely needs some form of state or municipal business license. This includes activities like selling products or services, leasing commercial property, operating amusement devices, and more. Even home-based businesses and sellers at flea markets need licenses to operate legally. If you fail to get a required license, you risk facing penalties like fines or even criminal charges.

Understanding Missouri Business Licenses

Missouri offers various state and local licenses covering specific activities or industries. Common examples include sales tax licenses, liquor licenses, transportation service licenses, and professional occupational licenses for accountants, contractors, counselors, and more. You may need multiple Missouri licenses and permits to cover all your business activities. It’s crucial to identify which requirements apply to your operations.

Preparing Your Missouri Business License Application

Before applying, gather details on your business activities, ownership structure, locations, projected revenues, and other key information. This will determine what licenses you need and simplify filling out applications. You’ll also need to prepare supporting documents, which may include items like business formation documents, tax IDs, zoning permits, background checks, and insurance plans. Understanding these requirements upfront saves time once you start the application process.

How to Apply for a Missouri Business License

Applications for state business licenses must get submitted either online through the Missouri One Start portal or mailed with supplemental forms to the Secretary of State’s office. Local license applications get filed with the relevant city or county. Many municipalities also offer online licensing services. Typical steps include:

  • Completing all required application forms and questionnaires in detail
  • Paying any licensing fees required
  • Submitting fingerprints for background checks if needed
  • Providing certified copies of necessary supporting documents
  • Passing any required inspections of your business location or equipment

Check the status of online applications through your portal dashboard or follow up with the licensing office if mailed. Processing times vary but often take 4-6 weeks.

Maintaining Compliance After Licensing

Once approved, regularly review all licensing renewal dates, ongoing fees, sales and use tax reporting, changes that must get reported, and other compliance mandates related to your Missouri business licenses. Failure to remain compliant could still result in penalties. Consider hiring a business lawyer or accountant if needing help staying on top of requirements.

Key Things to Know About Missouri Business Licensing

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about obtaining a Missouri business license:


  • How much does it cost to get a Missouri business license? Costs range from $25-$2,500 depending on license type
  • How long does it take to get approved? Processing may take 4-12 weeks
  • What background checks are required? All owners must submit fingerprints/background checks
  • What happens if I operate without a license? You can receive penalties like fines or misdemeanor charges for non-compliance
  • Do licenses need renewing? Most licenses need renewing 1-5 years after issuing
  • Do requirements differ across Missouri cities? Yes, requirements differ across St. Louis, Kansas City and other regions

Contact the Missouri Secretary of State’s office for any questions on state licensing or check with your municipal office for local license help. With the proper guidance on Missouri licenses, permits, and regulations, your business can operate legally and successfully serve customers in the Show Me State.

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.