How to Get a Small Business License in New Mexico

Learn the steps required to obtain a business license in New Mexico.

By , Contributing Author

Looking to start a small business in New Mexico? 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.

New Mexico Small Business Information

The Business section of the website (the state government's official website) has links to information on starting and registering a business in New Mexico. Among the various linked resources are:

Taken together, these sites provide information on registering, financing, funding, licensing, intellectual property, and growing a business, among other issues. They also include information on seminars and workshops where you can learn more.

Get One or More Business Licenses

Not every New Mexico business needs a license. However, many types of businesses either can or must get one or more licenses or permits. In addition, be aware that virtually every New Mexico business must register with New Mexico's Taxation and Revenue Department (TRD). You can find more information about the latter requirement in the Register Your Business section of the TRD website.

In New Mexico, many required business licenses and permits are issued locally. Most often, you apply for these licenses and permits at your county clerk's office. However, there are also cases where licenses are issued by a different office or by a city. In Albuquerque, business licenses are handled by the city's Treasury Division. Also, if you are operating in multiple cities and counties in the state, you'll need to register in each of those places. You can find more details by checking the website for the cities and counties where you'll be doing 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 file organizational documents with the SOS. You can find additional information by going to the Business Services section of the SOS website.

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 New Mexico. The state's Regulation & Licensing Department (RLD) oversees many (but not all) of the regulatory boards and commissions for licensed professions and occupations. The Boards and Commissions section of the RLD website lists the professions and occupations the RLD handles. The list runs from Accountancy to Speech Pathology. By clicking on a listed item, you'll be taken to a website with detailed information for the state regulatory board for that profession or occupation.

For professions not handled through RLD, such as physicians and attorneys, use an online search engine to check directly for the regulatory board for the profession.

Example: Juana wants to work as a licensed private investigator. She'll need to apply for a license through the New Mexico Private Investigations Board. She can get extensive information about the Board and its licensing requirements by clicking on Private Investigations on the RLD website. The Board's website has information on licensing exams, forms, and fees.

Assumed or Fictitious Business Names

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 other states, New Mexico does not require the registration of these kinds of names.

Register a Trademark or Service Mark

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 by going to the Trademarks FAQs section of the SOS website.

Example: Shawnee wants to sell her coffee-cocoa candy bars under the name "Shawn's Brown Bean Buzz Bars." So—after checking to make sure the name isn't already in use—she files Form TK1, APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TRADEMARK/SERVICE MARK, 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 New Mexico. You can find much more information in the many other articles in the Small Business section here on Many of those articles are part of 50-state series—so you can get plenty of information that's specific to the State of New Mexico. 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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