A vendor’s license permits the sale of goods or services and identifies its holder as a collector of state sales tax, in states where such a tax is collected. New Hampshire, for example, does not collect a sales tax on purchased items, but still requires a license to sell goods or services. Licensure requirements differ from state to state, but all applicants must fill out an application, and in many cases there is a fee involved to become a licensed vendor.
Visit the city clerk’s office of the city where you plan to operate your business. The city clerk will be able to tell you which license you need to legally operate a business. Be advised that there may be more than one. If you were planning to operate a lunch cart that also sold alcoholic beverages, for example, you would require—at the very least—a street vendor’s license, a food service license and a liquor license.
Fill out an application. Provide all identifying information: your name, driver’s license or Social Security number, address, telephone number, the name and address of your business, type of business, hours of operation, etc. You will have to include the names of your partners and partnership agreements, if applicable, and separate applications may be required for each partner.
Expect to pay a fee. There is usually an initial fee, and sometimes a security deposit is required. Your license will have to be renewed each year. There may be a renewal fee, but if there is, it is often less than the initial fee.
Expect an inspection. If you are opening a restaurant or selling food of any kind, the state health department will make a visit to inspect the premises and verify that they meet state health standards. You may have to undergo other types of inspections, as well. Some very popular locations--like Venice Beach, California--have strict rules governing what types of items may be sold, and local enforcers may patrol the area, issuing citations or tickets if the rules are broken.
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