Looking to start a small business in Utah? 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 Business section of the state government’s utah.gov website has links to a large amount of useful information for small businesses. This includes pages devoted to:
The site covers many other topics, as well.
The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), in conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), also provides a great deal of helpful information for small businesses. The SBA has a district office in Salt Lake City.
The Utah Small Business Development Centers network (Utah SBDC) is another good resource. It’s part of a national networks of SBDCs, and their website has information on getting free consulting, as well as finding money, markets, and mentors.
Not every Utah business needs a license. However, many types of business either can or must get one or more state licenses or permits which are issued by different state agencies. Almost anyone doing business in Utah must register with the state. You should use Utah’s OneStop Business Registration for this purpose. Registration is primarily overseen by the Department of Commerce (DOC). However, the OneStop online system allows you to register simultaneously with all of the following state agencies:
Apart from state-issued licenses, many business licenses and permits are issued locally. All businesses are required to be licensed with the local municipality where they are doing business. However, each city and county can have unique requirements and procedures. Moreover, you generally will need local licenses in each place where your business operates. You can find more details by checking the website for the cities and counties where you’ll be doing business. As examples, Salt Lake City and Utah County have websites providing information on local licensing. Some businesses may be exempt from local licensing requirements under state or federal law.
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 DOC’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code (DCCC). You can find additional information by going to the Business Entities section of the DCCC website.
If you’re a member of any one of many professions and occupations, you’ll need to be licensed by the State of Utah. Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) is the umbrella agency for nearly all of the state’s regulatory boards and commissions for licensed professions and occupations. The Select Profession/Occupation section of the DOPL website lists the professions and occupations DOPL handles. The list runs from Accountancy to Vocational Rehabilitation. 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.
Example: Zeke wants to work as a licensed professional land surveyor. He’ll have to apply for the license through DOPL. He can get a copy of the license application, as well as other information about the licensure process, by clicking on the Land Surveying link on the DOPL website.
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”). In Utah, businesses structured as, for example, corporations, LLCs, partnerships, and sole proprietorships, must file a form with the DCCC if they intend to operate under a DBA.
Example: Melinda originally organized her car repair business as a Utah corporation named Mel’s SLC Garage, Inc. She now wants to operate under the name Great Salt Lake Foreign Auto Repair, Inc. Melinda must file a Business Name Registration / DBA Application, including the filing fee, with the DCCC.
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 Trademark section of the DCCC website.
Example: Malik wants to sell his banana-cocoa candy drops under the name “Mal’s Choco-Nana Sweet Drops.” So—after checking to make sure the name isn’t already in use—he files an Application for State Trademark or Service Mark Registration, including the filing fee, with the SOS.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Utah. 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 Utah. 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.