Looking to start a small business in Mississippi? 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 State of Mississippi's website, ms.gov, has a Business section. The section contains links to information on many state business topics, such as online services for businesses and state tax information.
You also can find answers to many Mississippi small business questions by checking the website for the Mississippi Small Business Development Center (MSSBDC). The MSSBDC website has an FAQ page covering some of the key questions related to starting a new Mississippi business, including a section with information on many licenses and permits.
Not every Mississippi business needs a license. However, many types of businesses either can or must get a license. Some licenses are issued by a state agency and others are issued locally.
For example, at the state level, restaurants must have permitting and certification from the Department of Health. At the local level, the City of Jackson requires anyone who conducts business in the city to obtain a Business License (unless the business is specifically from the license requirement exempt under state or federal law).
Some legal forms of business, such as corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs), must file certain records. More specifically, corporations, LLCs, and certain other types of businesses must register with the Business Services Division of the Mississippi Secretary of State (SOS).
If you're a member of any of a large number of professions and occupations, you'll need to be licensed by the State of Mississippi. Among the many professions requiring state licensing are: doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, architects, engineers, nurses, and pharmacists. You can get information about the state agencies that license and regulate many professions and occupations from the Professional Licenses section of the ms.gov website.
Example: Monique wants to work as a registered professional geologist. She'll need to apply for a license through the Mississippi State Board of Registered Professional Geologists.
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").
Unlike most other states, Mississippi does not have laws that require businesses to register fictitious names with the state. However, a few years ago the state did enact a law (the Fictitious Business Name Registration Act) that permits businesses to register such names with the state. In addition, you may want to check with the city and county where your business is located to see if any local DBA filing is required.
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, including forms, in the Trademarks section of the SOS website.
Example: Harriet wants to sell her chocolate peanut brittle under the name "Harry's Happy Brown Peanut Crackle." So—after checking to make sure the name isn't already in use—she files an Application to Register or Renew Trade and Service Marks, including the filing fee, with the SOS.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Mississippi. 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 Mississippi. 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.