Apply for Licensing and Permits
GUIDE: START A BUSINESS IN IOWA | STEP SEVEN:
Apply for Licensing and Permits
Apply for licensing and permits
Contrary to popular belief, the state of Iowa DOES NOT have a general business license. So what does this mean? This means that when you are starting your business in Iowa, you must register your business with either your county recorder’s office OR with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. After you register your business, you need to figure out if you need any additional licensing to operate your business. Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want to start a food truck business in Iowa. After you register your business with either the state or your county recorder’s office (depending on your entity type), you then search for additional licensing needed to operate your business. That’s where the Business License Information Center (BLIC) comes into play. BLIC does not issue or administer these licenses. Their team is simply a referral source for all of the licensing agencies from across the state.
If you’re confused, don’t worry! Our team wrote a helpful blog that discusses how licensing works in Iowa with a more detailed example.
SBDC Quick Tip: Before you invest money on your project, be sure you understand the requirements of licensing and any limitations imposed by Iowa Code. Your great idea might require you to get additional training or licensing!
Local Permits & Requirements
Some municipalities and counties may require you to obtain a specialty permit to operate your business. A great example of this is what’s commonly referred to as a “Peddler’s Permit”. Basically this type of permit would allow you to go door-to-door offering your services or products. Before you begin offering services or selling your products in your city or county, it’s always a good idea to check with your city government or county government.
Below are some of the most searched licenses inside of the Business License Information Center (BLIC). If you aren’t sure what kind of license you may need to operate your business, please contact our team by texting or calling 319-273-5444 or by emailing [email protected]. We typically will respond to your questions within 1-2 business days.
Mobile Food Establishment
This license is for operating a readily movable food establishment, which operates up to three consecutive days at one location, or returns to a home base of operation at the end of each day.
The Mobile Food Establishment License is administered by the Food and Consumer Safety Licensing division at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-281-6538.
Food Service Establishment
This license is for operating an establishment that prepares or serves food for individual portion service intended for consumption on the premises, or where prepared food is subject to Iowa sales tax as provided in Iowa Code Section 423.3.
The Food Service Establishment License is administered by the Food and Consumer Safety Licensing division at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-281-6538.
Passenger Transport & Chauffeur
This license is for anyone wishing to transport passengers by shuttle, taxi, limousine, or other passenger transport service in the State of Iowa. Any person transporting 15 persons or less (including the driver) must possess the Class D-3 License.
The Passenger Transport & Chauffeur license is administered by the Central Programs Bureau at the Iowa Department of Transportation. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-244-8725.
This license is required to operate a self-service device which, upon insertion of a coin, paper currency, token, card or key, or by optional manual operation, dispenses unit servings of food in bulk or in packages without the necessity of replenishing the device between each vending operation.
The Vending Machine license is administered by the Food and Consumer Safety Licensing division at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-281-6538.
“Home bakery” generally means a business on the premises of a residence that is operating as a home-based bakery where baked goods are prepared for consumption elsewhere.
The home food production laws surrounding the Home Bakery License, as of May 2023, have been changed. To make sure you have the most accurate information for this license, please visit the Food and Consumer safety licensing division at the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-281-6538.
Commercial Pesticide Applicator Individual Certificate
This is the certification for an individual, employed by a licensed commercial pesticide application business or otherwise, to evaluate pest problems and take pest control measures, including integrated pest management and the application of pesticides.
The Commercial Pesticide Applicator Individual Certificate is administered by the Pesticide Bureau at the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Tammy Green is the main contact for this license, and she can be reached by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-281-5601.
Land surveyors plan, organize, and direct the work of one or more survey parties engaged in measuring distances, directions, and angles between points and elevations of points, lines, and contours on the earth\’s surface.
The Land Surveyor license is administered by the Engineering & Land Surveying Examining Board Administrator at the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau. You can contact them by emailing [email protected] or by calling 515-725-9022.
Certified Nursing Assistant
A certified nursing assistant (CNA, also referred to as a nurse\’s aide) provides personal care including feeding, bathing, and assisting patients with personal hygiene. They check patients\’ vital signs, make progress assessments, deliver meals, maintain a secure environment, and perform treatments and other tasks. The CNA works under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Contact us for more information about CNA certification or about the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry (for CNAs).
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have questions about applying for business licenses and permits? You should consider checking out our Resource Navigator. It houses the contact information of 400 of our most helpful partners from across the state, like the Small Business Development Centers, who provide no-cost confidential assistance to Iowa entrepreneurs and small business owners.
In the state of Iowa, you must register with the state or with the county you reside in in order to conduct business. This depends entirely on your entity type (LLC, non profit, sole proprietorship, etc). Additional licensing may be required depending on your business type and industry.
This depends entirely on the other state’s requirements and laws to operate your business.
If you make taxable sales within the state of Iowa, regardless if you are a domestic or foreign entity, you will need to register with the appropriate state or county authority. This also applies to sales tax, but there are some exceptions. See more information provided by the Department of Revenue, or read through our Expand My Business to Iowa Guide for extra help.
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NOTICE: The information included on this website is to be used only as a guide. It is not intended to cover all provisions of the law or every taxpayer's specific circumstances.
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