Regulatory Requirements

To run your business legally, there are certain federal and state licenses and permits you will need to obtain. These resources will help you understand the requirements for your small business


 City License and Permits

Revenue Agents of the Commissioner's office interview applicants to determine the industry classification and if the business is required to collect and submit additional taxes, such as the meals tax.  These additional taxes are referred to as trustee tax.  Trustee taxes may be subject to monthly or quarterly filing, depending on the type.  The trustee tax type and necessary accounts are determined and set up during the application process.  ​Monthly or quarterly filings of trustee taxes are submitted to the City Treasurer. To ensure compliancy with state and local tax laws, certain classifications require additional licenses, permits or documentation.  Certain documentation may be required to be submitted annually. 

​​​​​​​​​​​​​§ 58.1-3700.1. Definition of Business 
"Business" means a course of dealing which requires the time, attention and labor of the person so engaged for the purpose of earning a livelihood or profit. It implies a continuous and regular course of dealing, rather than an irregular or isolated transaction. A person may be engaged in more than one business. The following acts shall create a rebuttable presumption that a person is engaged in a business: (i) advertising or otherwise holding oneself out to the public as being engaged in a particular business or (ii) filing tax returns, schedules and documents that are required only of persons engaged in a trade or business.​

Organizations: All organizations must register with the commissioner's office, however, some manufacturing, farms, and non-profit entities may qualify as tax exempt. Additionally, some organizations hosting less than three events per year m​ay be exempt from certain taxes. Events of this kind are still required to register with the commissioner's office and are referred to as community events​.​


The commissioner's office business license division must be notified of any changes to information since the filing of the original application, or if the business fails or closes. ​

 State License & Permits

There is not a general business license that the state of Virginia requires in order to conduct business in the state. However, it does require certain occupations and professions through the use of licensing boards. Licensing boards managed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation and include professions such as auctioneers, barbers, home inspectors, engineers, and real estate agents to name a few. Licensing through these boards varies by profession but normally involves meeting certain education standards and successfully passing an administered examination. If your occupation is one that is covered by a licensing board, then all licensing and certification must be completed prior to your business opening.​​

 Federal Licenses & Permits

If your business is involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency – such as selling alcohol, firearms, commercial fishing, etc. – then you may need to obtain a federal license or permit. Here is a brief list of business activities that require these forms and information on how to apply.

In addition, you can also discover which general business permits, licenses and registrations are required by your state, county or city.


If you import or transport animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology or plants across state lines, you’ll need to apply for a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Alcoholic Beverages

If you manufacture, wholesale, import, or sell alcoholic beverages at a retail location, you will need to register your business and obtain certain federal permits (for tax purposes) with the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The website has a number of online tools that make this process straightforward. If you are just starting a business in this trade, start by reading the TTB’s New Visitors Guide which offers helpful information for small business owners. Remember, you will also need to contact your local Alcohol Beverage Control Board for local alcohol business permit and licensing information.


Does your business involve the operation of aircraft; the transportation of goods or people via air; or aircraft maintenance? If so, you’ll need to apply for one or more of the following licenses and certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration:

  • ​​FAA Licenses and Certificates - Get licensing information for airmen, aircraft, airports, airlines and medical aviation services.
  • Pilot Licenses and Training Requirements
  • Aircraft Mechanic Licenses 

​Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Businesses who manufacture, deal and import firearms, ammunitions and explosives must comply with the Gun Control Act’s licensing requirements. The Act is administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Refer to the following resources from the ATF to make sure your business is properly licensed:

  • ​Firearms Industry Guide – Includes information on obtaining and renewing a federal firearms license, importing firearms and ammunitions, and more.
  • Explosives Industry Guide – Find out how to get a federal explosives license.
  • How to Become a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL)
  • How to Become a Federal Explosives Licensee (FEL)

Fish and Wildlife

If your business is engaged in any wildlife related activity, including the import/export of wildlife and derivative products, must obtain an appropriate permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Commercial Fisheries

Commercial fishing businesses are required to obtain a license for fishing activities from the NOAA Fisheries Service. This guide includes quick links to permit applications and information.

Maritime Transportation

If you provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea, you’ll need to apply here for a license from the Federal Maritime Commission.

Mining and Drilling

Businesses involved in the drilling for natural gas, oil or other mineral resources on federal lands may be required to obtain a drilling permit from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Nuclear Energy

Producers of commercial nuclear energy and fuel cycle facilities as well as businesses involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials must apply for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Radio and Television Broadcasting

If your business broadcasts information by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable, you may be required to obtain a license from The Federal Communications Commission (FCC).​

Transportation and Logistics

​If you operate an oversize or overweight vehicle, you’ll need to abide by the U.S. Department of Transportation offers guidelines on maximum weight. Permits for oversize / overweight vehicles are issued by your state government. Get contact information here.​