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Iowa Business Licensing Help

Expand your Business to Iowa

Iowa SealWelcome to Iowa, a great place to do business!  If you are already incorporated in another state and want to open a branch office or do work in Iowa certain registrations or requirements may apply.  Be sure to check out the Iowa Secretary of State's FAQs regarding doing business in Iowa.

About every business organization recognized in Iowa is categorized either domestic or foreign.  A domestic organization is organized and subject to the laws of Iowa.  A foreign business organization in Iowa is one which is organized under a law other than Iowa.

Use the high level points below to guide your process of how to start a business in our great state.  If you would prefer, we are also available during normal business hours (and often outside of those!) via the Iowa Business Concierge service.  Go ahead and give us a call toll free at 866-537-6052 or ask us anything online.  Our team is dedicated to help you make your dreams of business ownership a reality!

Registering as a foreign entity

When transacting business beyond the borders of its original state of organization, a business organization may find itself subject to the laws and regulations of the state in which it is transacting business.  Before commencing business operations, a foreign business organization must determine if authority from the Iowa Secretary of State is required.

document pictureTransacting business in Iowa is not defined by the Iowa Code, instead each situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis.  Clicking on the code sections below will link you to some of the statutory requirements for operating a foreign business organization in Iowa, as well as a list of activities which do NOT constitute this.  If you are unsure if you need to obtain authority from the Iowa Secretary of State, contact your legal counsel.

Foreign Limited Liability Companies - Iowa Code 489.802, 489.803

Foreign Limited Liability Partnerships - Iowa Code 486A.1102, 486A.1104

Foreign Limited Partnerships - Iowa Code 488.902, 488.903

Foreign Nonprofit Corporation - Iowa Code 504.1501, 504.1503

Foreign Professional Corporation - Iowa Code 496C.20, 490.1501, 490.1503

Foreign Professional Limited Liability - Iowa Code 489.1117, 489.802, 489.803

Foreign Profit Corporations - Iowa Code 490.1501, 490.1503

Sole Proprietor or Simple Partnership

To register as a sole proprietor or simple partnership, contact your local county recorder.

Local Business Licenses

Contact your local city clerk for any license or ordinances specific to the city your business is located in.

Registrations, Licenses, and Permits

Iowa does not have a "general business license."  Visit our Iowa business licence and permit database to locate state compliance documentation specific to your business or licensed occupation.  For more assistance contact Christine Cavil, or call toll free at 1-800-532-1216.

Iowa Sales Tax Permit

Businesses making taxable sales in Iowa must register with the Iowa Department of Revenue.  You can register on-line for a sales tax permit.  Additionally, we have free Iowa tax webinars specific to all sorts of industries available here on IASourceLink.

Employer Requirements

If you have employees you can apply online for a Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN).  Additional information concerning employer obligations are available at the online via the Iowa Employer Awareness Guide.

Iowa law and federal statutes require Iowa employers to report newly hired and rehired employees to Iowa's Child Support Central Registry.  For questions, call to 877.274.2580.

Contact Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) to establish Unemployment Insurance and Workers' Compensation accounts for your employees.

Make sure you accurately determine if people working for you are employees or independent contractors.  A mistake here can be costly.  Contact Iowa Workforce Development Misclassification Unit for more information.

Contractor Registration

Iowa law requires that "construction contractors" register with Iowa Workforce Development Division of Laborand renew their registration annually.  All individual contractors and businesses performing "construction" work within Iowa must be registered if they earn at least $2,000 a year from that work.  Individuals or businesses making less than $2,000 a year on construction work, or who work only on their own real estate or property, are not required to register.  The law is found in Iowa Code Chapter 91C.