Business Licenses FAQs

Business Licenses Answers

  1. Does every business need a license?

    No. Licenses should be issued only to those businesses that are required to be licensed by the state. Requesting an unnecessary license only creates extra paperwork and hampers timely service to businesses that need assistance. To determine if you need a license, contact your local Clerk of the Court or call the State License Bureau at 410-260-6240.

  2. What types of businesses require a license?

    Businesses located in Maryland may need to obtain one or more of the following licenses from their local Clerk of the Court: Traders, Traders Show, Chain Store, Cigarette, Special Cigarette, OTP, Tobacconist, Commercial Garage, Console Machine, Construction Firm, Out of State Contractor, Hawkers & Peddlers, Junk Dealers, Laundry, Micro-Market, Pinball, Plumber & Gas Fitter, Restaurant, Storage Warehouse, Vending Machine, Wholesale Dealer Farm Machinery, Electronic Smoking Devices Retailer, and Vape Shop Vendor.

  3. Are wholesalers exempt from the Trader's License requirement?

    No. The Trader's License requirement applies to both wholesale and retail businesses.

  4. What's the difference between a Trader's License and a Trader's Show License?

    A trader's license applies to a trader or vendor in a fixed location. A Trader’s show license is designed for traders who rent space temporarily from a promoter and derive less than 10 percent of their gross annual income from show events.

  5. What should construction businesses remember?

    Builders are required to obtain a construction license, in addition to any registration required under the Maryland Home Builder Registration Act. Construction companies building new homes or entering into contracts to sell new homes should contact the Home Builder Registration Unit of the Maryland Attorney General's Office at 410-576-6573. Any construction being performed on an existing Residential Property must contact MHIC at 410-230-6309.

  6. Are out-of-state construction business working in Maryland required to obtain a special license?

    Yes. They may be required to obtain a nonresident construction license, which entails a $60 fee in Baltimore City and a $50 fee in the 23 counties of Maryland.

  7. What should auctioneers keep in mind?

    The licensing requirements that affect auctioneers depend on whether the auctioneer is holding inventory or merely providing a service.

  8. What is a Declaration of Inventory form?

    This form is an effective tool that allows the licensee to provide an inventory value which determines the price amount of the license and speeds up the issuing process. You can download the Declaration of Inventory Form or obtain a copy by contacting the State License Bureau at 410-260-6240.

  9. What kinds of services are available from the State License Bureau?

    The State License Bureau can answer questions, provide helpful brochures and offer other assistance in special cases. We can provide the Clerks of the Court access to important data, including information provided by the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. We can also provide important data to local government finance officials, helping them to expedite license clearances. In addition, agents from the Comptroller's Field Enforcement Bureau can resolve cases involving bad checks issued to local governments. For more information, contact the State License Bureau at 410-260-6240.

  10. If I'm the new owner of a business, am I liable for any delinquencies incurred by the previous owner?

    No. A new owner is not liable for the delinquent licenses of a previous owner. Our law enforcement agents will pursue these delinquent matters with the previous owner.

  11. What if a business fails to remit required license fees to the local Clerk of the Court?

    The Clerk of the Court Office will notify the State License Bureau. Agents from the Field Enforcement Bureau will then contact the delinquent business and confiscate the business license, if necessary, to resolve the matter.

  12. How far back can state officials investigate a delinquent license matter?

    The statute of limitations for delinquent licenses is four years.

  13. Where can customers report a complaint about a business?

    Any person who might have received a poor product or unsatisfactory service from a business should contact the Maryland Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division at 410-528-8662. Complaints can also be referred to the Better Business Bureau.

  14. What are the fees for the Trader's License?

    Trader's license fees are based on the average commercial inventory that a business owns. The fees increase as the inventory values increase. Currently, the fee amounts range from $15 to a maximum of $800 ($2,125 in Baltimore City).

  15. What should I remember about license renewals?

    The state and local agencies listed below must verify that an applicant renewing a license has paid all states taxes due - or made a satisfactory payment arrangement - before the license can be renewed:

    • Comptroller of Maryland
    • Clerks of the Circuit Court
    • Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
    • Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    • Motor Vehicles Administration (excluding driver's licenses and vehicle registration renewals)
    • Department of Natural Resources
    • Department of the Environment

    If you hold a license issued by one of these agencies, you should file any necessary tax returns and pay all taxes due without delay. If you wait until license renewal time to resolve a tax liability, your renewal may be delayed.