How to Get a Small Business License in Nebraska

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

By , Attorney

Looking to start a small business in Nebraska?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.

Nebraska Small Business Information

The website for the Nebraska Secretary of State (SOS) has a New Business Information section.The section contains useful, basic information on how to start a new small business in Nebraska.You may also find additional useful information by going to the websites for the state's Department of Economic Development (NEDED),Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Revenue (DOR).In addition, the U.S. Small Business Administrationhas useful general information.

Get One or More Business Licenses

Not every Nebraska business needs a license.However, many types of businesses either can or must get a license.Some of the general categories of business licenses and permits in Nebraska are:

  • health and human services business licenses
  • agricultural licenses and permits, and
  • liquor licenses.

Different categories of licenses and permits are issued by different state agencies.You can find more information by going to the Business Licensing Resources section of the website.

In addition, some required licenses are issued locally.You can find more details about local licensing by checking the website for the city where you'll operate your business.(Some businesses may be exempt from local licensing requirements under state or federal law.)

File Records for Your Form of Business

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 register with the SOS.Check the New Business Information section of the SOS website for more details.

Obtain Professional Licensing

If you're a member of one of many professions and occupations, you'll need to be licensed by the State of Nebraska.In many cases, you can get the basic licensing information by going to the Professions & Occupations section of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website.For professions not listed on the DHHS website, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, and engineers, you'll need to check the website for the state regulatory board for your profession (for example, the Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects).

Example:Monique wants to work as a licensed audiologist and speech-language pathologist.She'll need to apply for a license through DHHS, including possibly sending items to the Nebraska Board of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.She can find detailed information in the Audiology & Speech Language Pathology section of the DHHS website.

Register an Assumed or Fictitious Business Name (Trade Name)

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 a 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").Most forms of small business in Nebraska, such as partnerships, LLCs, and corporations, must file a form with the Secretary of State if they intend to operate under a trade name.In addition, there is a publication requirement when registering a trade name.

Example:Melanie originally organized her car repair business as a Nebraska corporation named Mel's Omaha Garage, Inc.She now wants to operate under the name Great Huskers Foreign Auto Repair, Inc.Melanie must file anAPPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADE NAME, including the filing fee, with the SOS.She also must publish this information in the appropriate place.

Register a Trademark or Service Mark

There are separate legal definitions for trademarks, trade names, and service marks.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 Forms and Fee Information section of the SOS website.

Example:Charles wants to sell his coffee-cocoa candy bars under the name "Charlie's Deep Chocolate Buzz Bars."So—after checking to make sure the name isn't already in use—he files a TRADEMARK or SERVICE MARK APPLICATION, including the filing fee, with the SOS.

Additional Information

This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Nebraska.You can find much more information in the many other articles in the Small Business section here on of those articles are part of 50-state series—so you can get plenty of information that's specific to the State of Nebraska.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.

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