How to Get a Small Business License in Mississippi

Learn the steps required to obtain a business license in Mississippi.

By , Attorney
Updated by Amanda Hayes, Attorney University of North Carolina School of Law
Updated 11/07/2023

If you're looking to start a small business in Mississippi, you'll need to make sure your business has completed its regulatory requirements. Your business could need to obtain state and local licenses, permits, and registrations before it can legally open its doors.

Below are the main regulatory requirements for Mississippi businesses.

Which Business Licenses Do You Need for Your Small Business?

When starting a business in Mississippi, you must:

The types of licenses and permits your business must apply for depends on your business structure, industry, and location. The main types of business licenses, permits, and registrations are:

(For more general guidance, see our article on the legal requirements for starting a small business.)

General Business License in Mississippi

Mississippi, like many states, doesn't require businesses to have a general business license to operate in the state. However, your county or city might require your business to get a license. Your municipality might require all businesses or just some businesses to have a license to operate within the city or county limits.

Typically, if your business is located within city limits, you'll need to check with your city clerk or revenue department to see whether a license is required. If your business is located outside of city limits, you should check with your county. Your city or county could call a general operational license a "business privilege license," a "trader's license," a "tax certificate," or something similar.

For example, the City of Jackson requires anyone who wants to do business in the city to obtain a business privilege license. Hinds County requires some businesses operating within the county but outside of a city's limits to get a privilege license from the county.

Visit your city's website or contact local officials to find out whether your business operations require a license. Each city and county will have its own procedure and license fee.

Professional and Occupational Licenses for Businesses and Individuals in Mississippi

Many occupations and professions have boards and commissions charged with regulating and licensing individuals and businesses within the trade. For example, the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure licenses various medical professionals, including physicians, podiatrists, physician assistants, radiology assistants, and acupuncturists.

Unlike most states, Mississippi doesn't have a single department or agency to oversee a large number of professions and industries. Instead, the SOS's Regulation and Enforcement Division registers and regulates a handful of occupations, including:

  • scrap metal dealers and processors
  • the pre-need funeral industry (for example, funeral homes), and
  • perpetual care cemeteries.

The Division also regulates athlete agents and reviews the Administrative Procedures Act, which makes up the proposed and adopted rules and regulations for more than 150 state agencies, boards, and commissions. However, each regulating authority is in charge of its own licensing procedures and for coming up with the rules for its profession or occupation.

So you should check with the board, commission, or agency in charge of your industry. Most regulating authorities have websites where you can find information on how to apply for a license or certification. The Mississippi state website has a list of state agencies that you can search through to find the one that applies to you and your business. You can also do an internet search of your profession along with the terms "Mississippi" and "license" or "certification" to find the appropriate board, commission, or agency.

Depending on your industry, you might need to obtain two separate licenses: one for you as an individual and one for your business.

Mississippi Sales Tax Permit

If your business sells tangible personal property, then you must apply for and obtain a sales tax permit and number from the DOR to collect and pay sales tax in Mississippi. For example, your business must register with the DOR if it:

  • is located within Mississippi and has retail sales within the state
  • is registered in another state but has a business located in Mississippi (such as a storefront or office), or
  • doesn't have a business location in the state but has salespersons in Mississippi who solicit or accept orders to be delivered in Mississippi.

Even if you aren't required to register for a sales tax permit, you can choose to register for one with the DOR.

You can register your business and apply for your sales tax permit online using Mississippi's Taxpayer Access Point (TAP). You can also use TAP for other business taxes.

Once you register, the DOR will send you a packet containing your permit and information about filing and paying your business taxes.

    For more, visit the sales and use tax section of the DOR website.

    Local Zoning and Building Permits

    In some cases—for example, if you'll be constructing or renovating a space—you'll need to get special zoning and building permits. Typically, if your business is located within a city, you'll need to obtain your building permits from the city's planning or development department. If your business is located outside of city limits, you should check with your county for permit requirements.

    For example, Jackson's Building Permit Division requires a permit to do the following to a building or structure:

    • construct
    • enlarge
    • repair
    • move
    • demolish, or
    • change the occupancy.

    In general, if you need to obtain a building permit for your business, you must submit an application, pay a fee, and pass the necessary inspections. Depending on your level of work, you might also need to include site plans and other information with your application.

    Zoning laws. If your type of business isn't in line with the zoning code, you can find another space or potentially apply for a special use permit. A special permit can provide your business with an exception to the current use laws.

    Building code. You can work with local departments and agencies to apply for building and construction permits. You'll likely need to have inspections related to your space's structural, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing features.

    If you intend to lease a commercial space, make sure you have a section in the commercial lease that ensures the building and your use of the space are in line with the zoning laws.

    Registering a Fictitious Business Name in Mississippi

    A fictitious business name (FBN) is a name that an individual or business operates under that's different from the individual's or business's legal name. A legal name is the name on the individual's birth certificate or on a company's formation paperworkfor example, on its articles of incorporation or articles of organization.

    For example, suppose Ulysses McGill, sole proprietor, rents a concert hall out under the business name "Soggy Bottom Music Hall." Ulysses would be using a fictitious name.

    An FBN might also be called:

    • a "DBA"
    • a "trade name"
    • an "assumed name," or
    • an "alias."

    If you use a fictitious name, you can, but aren't required to, register it with the SOS. In Mississippi, your fictitious name doesn't have to be different from any other name registered with the SOS. For example, suppose a corporation is registered with the SOS under the name "Odyssey Corp." and you also apply for the fictitious name Odyssey Corp." The SOS won't refuse to register your fictitious name just because a corporation has already registered that same name. (Miss. Code §§ 75-93-7 (2023).)

    However, it's recommended that you choose a unique name for your business. Picking a business name not already in use can help avoid trademark disputes. (You can learn more in our choosing a business name FAQ.)

    You can apply for your fictitious name registration online.

    The fictitious business name registration is good for five years and can be renewed. As of 2023, the filing fee to register a fictitious name is $25. (Miss. Code §§ 75-93-1 and following (2023).)

    Other Licenses and Permits Your Business Might Need

    Apart from the licenses and permits discussed above, your business might be required to comply with other laws and regulations. For instance, your business might need to apply for special licensing or follow special rules related to:

    • safety
    • health, and
    • the environment.

    Sometimes these areas are encompassed within other licenses, permits, and registrations. Other times, these licenses and permits will require a separate process. If you're in a highly regulated field, you're more likely to need additional licenses and permits. You should check with your federal, state, and local governments for more information.

    Additional Information for Mississippi Small Businesses

    The SOS's Business One Stop Shop has an excellent guide for starting a business in Mississippi. This guide breaks down the steps to opening your business, including:

    • financing your business
    • registering your business with the SOS
    • applying for city and county licenses and permits
    • filing federal business taxes
    • filing state business taxes, and
    • obtaining business insurance.

    The guide also covers the other registrations that might apply to your business, including special professional and occupational registrations.

    You also can find answers to many Mississippi small business questions by checking the website for the Mississippi Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has two district offices in Jackson and Gulfport.

    Getting Help for Your Mississippi Small Business

    You can read more about how to start and operate your business on the small business section of our website. If you're looking to educate yourself further, you can read Legal Guide for Starting & Running a Small Business, by Fred S. Steingold, and The Small Business Start-Up Kit, by Peri Pakroo.

    If you want more personalized legal assistance, consider reaching out to a Mississippi business attorney. A lawyer can help you navigate the steps to get your business license or permit and answer your specific questions.

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