Since the introduction of the Internet, e-commerce has become increasingly common. As internet sales continue to rise, many new business owners are unsure if they need to register as a legal entity. The short answer to the question “Do I need a business licence to sell online?” is “Yes.” However, there are a lot of things you need to think about before launching your internet business.

When Selling Online Do You Need a Business License 1
When Selling Online Do You Need a Business License 1

Legal authorization to conduct business in your jurisdiction is required prior to beginning online sales. Crucial to the progress and expansion of any firm. A valid company licence can reassure consumers that their business transaction with you is safe and legal. Let’s talk about the importance of having a business licence and the steps involved in getting one in order to conduct online sales:

The Meaning of a Business Permit

Let’s start with what a company licence is before getting into why they’re important and the many kinds of permits and licences.
For a firm to legally conduct business within the bounds of a given government, the government must first grant the company a business licence. The operation of a successful internet business often necessitates the acquisition of multiple legal authorizations. The number of licences required to legally operate an internet business is variable and subject to the goods and services offered.

What’s more, your company’s specific licencing and permitting obligations will change based on its geographic location. The two serve the same goal, though; they prove to customers that your company is authorised to conduct business in a specific region.

When Selling Online, Why Do I Need a Business License?

Having a valid licence or licence to operate a business online is crucial to the success of your venture. If you want to convince a client that what you’re selling is above board, you need a business licence.

When Selling Online Do You Need a Business License 2

There are primarily three situations in which a business licence or permit is required. First and foremost, they are official records demonstrating your company’s adherence to all applicable regulations. As the product’s owner, you are liable for anything that may occur during the selling process and any results that may follow. Further, these records can serve as a method of safeguarding and ensuring the benefits and rights of your employees, partners, and consumers. Finally, it will document your company’s tax and financial obligations.

Therefore, you should pay special attention to applying for a business licence to guarantee a trouble-free and lawful launch of your internet firm.

Permits and Authorizations Necessary for Selling Online

Once you understand what a business licence is and why it’s necessary for your internet venture. Here are some of the most common forms of authorization that may be required of your online enterprise:

  • Seller’s permits: You might need one if you plan to sell in a place where sales tax is required, like California in the US or Britain in the UK (except for food, books, and children’s clothes).
  • When you buy materials or products to sell to your customers, you usually need to get a reseller’s permit. It’s also called a “resale certificate,” and it lets you buy things without having to pay sales tax.
  • Business licence in general: It might be required by the law where you live. It could be different, since in some places you need both a general business licence and a licence for a specific type of business.
  • Licenses for professionals and businesses: If your business does things that are regulated, you may need a licence from one or more levels of government. For example, if the business is about regulated goods like alcohol, tobacco, and gambling. TIP: When figuring out what licences you need for your business, you should look at all the factors, including any special ones.
  • When you start your e-commerce business, make sure you know which one you need to apply for, and keep reading to find out how to apply for a business licence to sell online.

How do I go about getting a business licence?

After you’ve figured out what kinds of business licences and permits you need for your online business, you’ll need to follow the steps for each licence to apply for it. There may be different rules for each of these licences or permits. Some may let you apply online or by mail, while others may require you to show up in person.

Most important, some business licences are only good for a certain amount of time. You should write down their expiration dates so you don’t run an e-commerce business with a licence that has already run out. But you need to know the answers to the following questions before you apply for one:

  • When do you need to apply?
    When you should get a business licence to sell online depends on where you want to sell. In some situations, you have to apply before you can sell. In some places, you might need to be a certain size before you can get licences and permits. So, if you want to figure out your exact timeline, it might be a good idea to talk to your legal resources and local business resources.
  • What would it cost?
    When getting a business licence, the cost might not be too much of a problem. A basic business licence costs a few hundred dollars or a small amount of money. There are, however, still some permits you can get for free.

TIP: When you want to renew your licences, you may also have to pay some fees. But sometimes, when you renew, the price will be less.
In reality, getting a business licence is not a very expensive thing to do. But if you are found to be working without a licence or with a licence that has expired, you may have to pay a lot of money.

What do you need to do to apply?

It’s important to find out exactly what the rules are in your area. You can use these requirements to figure out what you need to get a licence to sell online. But you should get some documents ready ahead of time to speed up the process.

That means you should make sure you know what kind of business entity you have. Also, if you need inspections or special permits for the products you’re selling, it should be clear what name you’ll be doing business under.


As a new online store owner, you need to think about a lot of things for your online start-up business. These include choosing products, e-commerce platforms, the market, and inventory, as well as getting ready for finances, web design, branding, or marketing. When you’re excited about starting a business, it’s easy to forget about the legal steps and never really think about them.

So, you should know that having an e-commerce website isn’t enough to run an online business. The online store is the same as regular stores, so the same level of compliance is needed. It means that you need a licence or permit to run a business. From the public’s point of view, businesses that have the right licences look more trustworthy.