Business License Requirements for the State of Maryland

The License You Need Depends on the Nature of Your Business

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Like most states, Maryland's requirements for a business license depends on the type of business you start as well as the location.

In general, localities determine whether a business license is required, so you'll want to contact the county clerk in the area your Maryland business will be opened to determining licensing requirements.

With that said, the state of Maryland does regulate some types of business, in which case you may need an additional license.

Types of Maryland Businesses That Need a License

Businesses that must usually obtain licenses from their local Clerk of the Court include:

  • Auctioneers
  • Hawkers
  • Peddlers
  • Billiard parlors
  • Chain stores
  • Cigarette or tobacco vendors
  • Commercial garages
  • Console machine operators
  • Construction firms
  • Junk dealers
  • Laundry establishments
  • Music or jukebox vendors
  • Vending machine companies
  • Pinball machine owners/vendors
  • Plumbers
  • Gasfitters
  • Restaurants
  • Storage warehouses
  • Traders and traders' shows
  • Wholesale farm machinery dealer

The business must be physically located in Maryland for licensing rules to apply. The type of license or licenses required can depend on the exact nature of the business, and you may require more than one. You can contact your local Clerk of the Court or call the State License Bureau at 410-260-6240 to find out if your particular business requires a license. You can also search by your industry for licensing information on Maryland's Business License Information System online.

Some counties require licensing in addition to state licenses. Your local Clerk of the Court can tell you if your county is one of them. 

Businesses in Maryland That Need Special Licensing 

Several types of businesses and industries are regulated by the state of Maryland. For example, the financial industry including banks, credit unions, consumer loan companies, mortgage companies, sales finance companies, and collection agencies, require special licensing.

Call 410-230-6100 for licensing information or visit Maryland's Onestop Portal to research licensing and permit requirements.

Businesses requiring an occupational licenses include real estate, plumber, pilot, therapists, cosmologists and more. If you need a professional or occupational license, call the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing toll-free at 888-218-5925.

Child care providers and assisted living facilities also require their own special licensing. If your business will sell alcohol, you'll need to check both state and county regulations on any permits you need. You'll likely need a license to sell food as well. You can check with the Maryland Health Department for information on food licenses.

Brick-And-Mortar Versus Online Business Licensing in Maryland

Maryland does not make any particular distinction between brick-and-mortar businesses and online businesses. The nature of your business will determine the type of licensing you will need regardless of whether you operate and/or sell merchandise from a land-based facility or on the Internet. 

Business License Exemptions for Maryland Non-Profits

Non-profit organizations that obtain tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service do not require business licenses in Maryland. 

Penalties for Failure to Obtain Business License in Maryland

The statute of limitations on licensing investigation and penalties for failure to obtain and file a business license is four years in Maryland. 

How to Get Necessary Business Licenses in Maryland

Maryland makes it relatively easy to make sure all your licensing requirements are met. The Department of Commerce offers the Maryland Business Portal online that will walk you through all the steps necessary to register your business with the state, whether you're just starting out or you're relocating into the area.

The DOC offers licensing information on its webpage to take you through the process. County-level licensing links are included.