Looking to start a small business in Alaska? You may need to obtain one or more state licenses or permits, or complete one or more kinds of state registration, as part of the start-up process. Here's a quick look at some of the main informational resources available and a few of the steps you may need to take.
The Alaska Small Business Development Center (AKSBDC) has guidance on how to start and grow your business. This includes access to in-person and online training and workshops, and one-on-one business advising. The AKSBDC is part of a national network of small business development centers.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a district office in Anchorage. The office's website lists upcoming events, resources, and news for small businesses. The SBA also publishes an Alaska-specific Resource Guide for Small Business that you can download from the SBA website.
Most Alaska businesses are required to have a state business license. The license is issued by the Corporations, Business & Professional Licensing office (CBPL) of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED). Obtaining a license for a new business goes along with registering that business for other purposes with the state. This includes, for example, registering a business name, which in turn will be used on the license. Because the business license fees are non-refundable, you should be sure about the exact name you want, and confirm that it is not already in use by another business.
You have the option to pay for either a one-year or two-year business license. Licenses expire on December 31st. For more information, check the New BL Online section of the CBPL website.
Other state agencies issue permits for matters relating to, for example, the environment or health and safety. If you think one of these kinds of permits might apply to your business, check the websites for Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, and other state agencies.
Apart from state-issued licenses, some required business licenses are issued locally. The requirements vary depending on the city involved. For example, both Anchorage and Fairbanks have their own licensing requirements. You can find more details by checking the website for the municipality where you'll operate your business. (Some businesses may be exempt from local licensing requirements under state or federal law.)
One other important type of state-issued license, for professions and occupations, is covered below.
Beyond obtaining required licenses or permits, some legal forms of business, such as corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), are required to file records with the state. More specifically, corporations, LLCs, and certain other types of business must file organizational documents with the CBPL. Check the Forms by Entity Typesection of the CBPL website for more details.
If you're a member of any one of many professions and occupations, you'll need to be licensed by the State of Alaska. The Professional Licensing section of the CBPL website lists most of the professions requiring state licensing. The list runs from Acupuncturists through Veterinary Examiners. By clicking an item on the list, you'll be taken to a separate website with information on how to apply for the relevant license. The CBPL handles licensing for some of these jobs (for example, home inspectors). In other cases, licenses are issued through separate state regulatory boards (for example, physicians and real estate appraisers).
Example: Linda wants to work as a licensed acupuncturist. She'll need to apply for a license through the CBPL, which staffs the acupuncture licensing and regulation program. She can find detailed information and forms, including a copy of the license application, by clicking on the link for Acupuncturist on the CBPL website.
There are separate legal definitions for trademarks, service marks, and trade names. However, speaking very generally, trademarks, service marks, and trade names are used to uniquely identify goods (products), services, or a business. This includes distinguishing a product, service, or business from potential competitors. Trademarks and service marks can be registered with the state. (This is distinct from federal registration.) You can find more information by going to the Trademark Registration section of the CBPL website.
Example: Joaquin wants to sell his coffee-cocoa candy bars under the name "Joaq's Brown Cocoa Buzz Bars." So—after checking to make sure the name isn't already in use—he files a Form 08-547, Trademark Registration, including the filing fee, with the CBPL. He can download a copy of the form from the Forms & Fees section of the CBPL website.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Alaska. You can find much more information in the many other articles in the Small Business section here on Nolo.com. Many of those articles are part of 50-state series—so you can get plenty of information that's specific to the State of Alaska. You can also find expanded information in many Nolo books, such as Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business, by Fred S. Steingold, and The Small Business Start-Up Kit, by Peri Pakroo.