Looking to start a small business in Louisiana? 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 Louisiana Small Business Development Center (SBDC) also has guidance on how to start and grow your business. The website has sections on topics such as business plans, financial analysis, sales and marketing, and technology commercialization. It also has information on training sessions and how to get free confidential business counseling. The Louisiana SBDC is part of a national network of small business development centers.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a district office in New Orleans. The office’s website lists upcoming events, resources, and news for small businesses. The SBA also publishes a Louisiana-specific Resource Guide for Small Business that you can download from the SBA website.
Not every Louisiana business needs a license. However, many types of business either can or must get one or more license or permits. Many of these licenses and permits are regulatory and relate to specific business activities. They may cover matters like selling particular items, providing particular services, health and safety, the environment, and agriculture, among other things. At the Louisiana geauxBIZ website, which is run by the Secretary of State(SOS), you can create an online account and then sign in to create a business license checklist.
In addition, some required licenses are issued locally. The requirements vary depending on the city or county/parish involved. For example, the City of New Orleans has its own business license requirements. You can find more details by checking the website for the city and county/parish where you’ll operate your business. (Some businesses may be exempt from local licensing requirements under state or federal law.)
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 SOS. Check the Business Servicessection of the SOS 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 Louisiana. The Professional and Occupational Licenses (POL) section of the state government’s Louisiana.gov website lists these various professions and occupations. By clicking an item on the list, you’ll be taken to the website for that profession’s state regulatory board or agency. The board or agency webpage generally provides detailed information about state licensing requirements.
Example: Babette wants to work as a licensed real estate appraiser. She’ll need to apply for a license through the Louisiana Real Estate Appraisers Board. She can find detailed information and a copy of the license application by clicking on the link for Real Estate Appraiser in the POL section of the state Louisiana.gov website.
Many small businesses don’t simply operate under the names of their owners. Instead, they operate under a business name. In addition, some businesses, such as corporations and LLCs, may originally register with the state under one name (sometimes called the registered name, actual name, or true name), but later choose to operate under another name. Depending on where you’re doing business and how your business is structured, this alternative business name technically may be known as an assumed name, a fictitious name, a trade name, or a DBA (for “doing business as”). In Louisiana, generally speaking, corporations, LLCs, and partnerships that intend to operate under a trade name must register that name with the SOS. However, the state’s laws for trade names are extensive and can be confusing, so you may want to consult with a lawyer before filing any forms.
Example: Lacey originally organized her car repair business as a Louisiana corporation named Lacey’s NOLA Garage, Inc. She now wants to operate the business under the name Jefferson Parish Foreign Auto Repair, Inc. Lacey must file an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark, including the required transmittal cover page filing fee, with the SOS.
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 limited additional information by going to the File Business Documents section of the SOS website.
Example: Henriette wants to sell her coffee-cocoa candy bars under the name “Henry’s Mocha Cocoa Crunch Bars.” So—after checking to make sure the name isn’t already in use—she files an Application to Register Trade Name, Trademark, or Service Mark, including the required transmittal cover page filing fee, with the SOS.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Louisiana. 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 Louisiana. 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.