Do I need a license for my business in Wisconsin?

There are a number of different regulations and licenses that a small business has to deal with. The most often overlooked is the requirement from each city for specific licensing.

The State of Wisconsin requires licenses for a number of businesses from Accountants and Acupuncturists to Wild Rice Harvester and X-Ray Services. You can see the complete list here. However, each city or municipality also has its own set of license and business requirements that need to be complied with. Often times these are much more specific than the State requirements.

The city of Milwaukee has specific license requirements for Pawnbrokers, Home Improvement Contractor’s, and Used Bicycle, Tire or Batter Dealers. Not only do you need to ensure that your business obtains any required licenses from the City, you also must be sure that your intended use complies with any zoning requirements. Just because you may be granted a Pawnbrokers license does not mean that you will be able to operate a pawnshop at your chosen store location. Often those types of uses are prohibited under the applicable zoning code without a variance or special use exception being granted by the city.

Finally, each city may have different requirements. This is especially important to note for businesses such as home improvement contractors that operate in multiple different cities.  In Milwaukee, Home Improvement Contractors are required to get a city license and carry general liability and property damage insurance of at least $60,000. In contrast, Wauwatosa does not issue a specific home improvement license but does require for the issuance of any plumbing or electrical permits that the work be done by a licensed contractor. To add to the confusion, New Berlin requires a specific license for electrical work but does not have a General Contractors license that it issues. If you are operating in each of these municipalities however, you need to be in compliance with each of their rules.

If you are operating a business in Wisconsin, or thinking about starting a business in Wisconsin, you should find out what licensing and zoning requirements you are required to meet before opening your doors.

 

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