Looking to start a small business in Wyoming? 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 & UCC page of the Wyoming Secretary of State (SOS) website includes sections for starting a business and maintaining a business. Each of the latter sections has links to additional helpful resources.
The Wyoming Business Council (WBC) has a Business Resource Network. The Network includes links to some of the state's most important organizations for starting and promoting Wyoming businesses.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a district office in Casper. The office's website lists upcoming events, resources, and news for small businesses. The SBA also publishes a Wyoming-specific Resource Guide for Small Business that you can download from the SBA website.
The Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has guidance on how to start and grow your business. Their website has information on various in-person and online classes. It also has resources for things like planning, marketing, and growing a business, and financial assistance. The Wyoming SBDC is part of a national network of small business development centers.
Not every Wyoming business needs a license. However, many types of business either can or must get one or more license or permits. Broadly speaking, some licenses and permits are regulatory, and others are for specific professions and occupations. Professions and occupations are covered below.
Important categories of regulatory licenses and permits include:
However, there are many other categories as well. In addition, some permits are related to taxation.
Different regulatory permits are issued by different state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture or Department of Environmental Quality. The WBC publishes an excellent guide, Wyoming Business Permitting and Licensing, that provides an easy-to-read overview of the state's various regulatory permits and licenses, including the agencies that issue them. You can download the publication from the WBC website.
In addition to state licenses, some required licenses are issued locally. The requirements vary depending on the city or town involved. For example, the City of Cheyenne has its own licensing requirements. You can find more details by checking the websites for the city and county where you'll operate your business. 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 businesses must file organizational documents with the SOS. Check the Forms & Publications section of the SOS website for more details.
If you're a member of any one of many professions and occupations, you'll need to be licensed by the State of Wyoming. The Wyoming Department of Administration and Information (DAI) has an online list of regulatory boards for some (but not all) licensed professions and occupations. In addition, the Governor's Boards and Commissionswebsite has a section where you can search for a regulatory board if you know its name. And, finally, the WBC publication mentioned above, Wyoming Business Permitting and Licensing, lists the many state agencies that administer professional licenses.
Example: Wayne wants to work as a licensed hearing aid specialist. He'll need to apply for a license through the Wyoming Board of Hearing Aid Specialists. He can find detailed information and a copy of the license application by clicking on the link for Hearing Aid Specialist on the DAI 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 Wyoming, most businesses that intend to operate under a trade name must register the name with the SOS.
Example: Shelton originally organized his car repair business as a Wyoming corporation named Shel's Jackson Garage, Inc. He now wants to operate the business under the name Rocky Mountain Foreign Auto Repair, Inc. Shelton must file an Application for Registration of Trade Name, including the filing fee, with the SOS.
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 either of two trademark FAQ webpages maintained by the state.
Example: Henriette wants to sell her coffee-cocoa candy bars under the name "Henry's Cocoa Espresso Buzz Bars." So—after checking to make sure the name isn't already in use—she files an Application for Registration of Trademark or Service Mark, including the filing fee, with the SOS.
This article covers only the very tip of the iceberg regarding small business licenses and registrations in Wyoming. 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 Wyoming. 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.