Looking to start a small business in Nevada? 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 website for Nevada’s Department of Business and Industry (DBI) has information on how to start and grow your Nevada small business. Among other things, the site has information on funding options, small business events, and a business resources page. The site also has links to other state government departments important to your business.
Most Nevada businesses need a license. At a minimum, that means a State Business License (SBL) issued by the Nevada Secretary of State (SOS). Apart from getting an SBL when you start your small business, you generally will need to renew the license each year. For many businesses, the renewal is connected with filing Nevada’s version of an annual report with the state.
You can find additional online information about the SBL in the following places:
In addition, some required licenses are issued at the city or county level. The Business Licensing Agencies section of the DBI website has a list of local governments that issue business licenses. You can click on the name of a city or county on the list for more information.
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. For more information, go to the SOS website or the SilverFlume portal.
If you run a business as a member of one of several professions or occupations, you’ll need to be licensed by the State of Nevada. Among the professions requiring state licensing are: doctors, lawyers, dentists, accountants, architects, engineers, nurses, and optometrists. The Business Licensing Agencies section of the DBI website has a list of state regulatory agencies for many professions and occupations. You can click on any item on the list to go to the website for the regulatory agency (often a state board) and get more details on obtaining a license.
Example: Selena wants to work as a licensed psychologist. She’ll need to apply for a license through the State Board of Psychological Examiners.
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”). Most forms of small business in Nevada, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations, must file a form if they intend to operate under an assumed or fictitious name.
In Nevada, DBAs are filed at the county level, not at the state level. You must file the proper form with the county clerk. Check your county government website for more details.
Example: Angela originally organized her car repair business as a Nevada corporation operating in Las Vegas with the name Angela’s Desert Garage, Inc. She now wants to operate under the name Sierra Tahoe Foreign Auto Repair, Inc. Angela must file a Certificate of Business: Fictitious Firm Name, including the filing fee, with the Clark County Clerk.
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, by going to the Trademarks section of the SOS website.
Example: Luis wants to sell his peanut-chocolate candy squares under the name “Lu’s Chocolate Nut Crunchers.” So—after checking to make sure the name isn’t already in use—he files a Mark Registration Form, including the filing fee, with the SOS.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Nevada. 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 Nevada. 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.