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Do I Need a Business License to Freelance?

Table of ContentsUpdated Oct 14, 2022

When you’re starting a business, one of the first things you might ask yourself is, “Do I need a business license to freelance?” For many people, the answer is yes – you do need a business license to freelance.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss what a business license is and why you might need one when freelancing. We’ll also provide tips on getting your business license and staying compliant with the law.

do i need a business license to freelance

What is a business license?

A business license is a permit that allows a business to operate in a specific location. Businesses are required to obtain a business license to operate legally in most jurisdictions. Different licenses may be required depending on the type of business and its location.

Business licenses are usually issued by the government agency responsible for regulating businesses in the jurisdiction in question. In some jurisdictions, businesses may need multiple licenses from different agencies to operate legally.

Business licenses typically need to be renewed regularly, and failure to do so can result in the business being shut down. Depending on the jurisdiction, the business license renewal process can vary widely.

Do I need a business license to freelance?

You may or may not need a business license to operate as a freelancer. However, you should check with your local government to see if any specific requirements or regulations would require you to obtain a license. The best place to ask about it is your County Clerk’s office, or a local accountant.

There are a few instances where you may need a business license as a freelancer. For example, if you’re working as a freelancer in a regulated industry, such as healthcare or finance, you’ll likely need to obtain the appropriate licenses before you can begin work. Additionally, you may need to obtain a business license if you plan on hiring other freelancers to work for you.

Another example is if you’re a freelance photographer or graphic designer, you’ll need a business license if you want to sell your work to clients in your city or state. However, you may not need a business license if you’re a freelance writer.

In some cases, however, you won’t need a business license to freelance. So long as you’re not operating in a regulated industry and you’re not hiring other freelancers, you should be good to go without one. But the safest option is to call your local city or county office to find out if your freelance business is required to get a business license.

Of course, even if you don’t need a business license, there are still a few other things you’ll need to do to get started as a freelancer.

For instance, you’ll need to set up a system for invoicing and billing your clients, and you’ll need to make sure you’re staying on top of your taxes. But, so long as you’re taking care of these things, you should be able to freelance without any problems.

Be sure to check with your local government to see if any specific requirements or regulations would require you to obtain a license. Later in this article, we will explain what may happen if you answer no to “do I need a business license to freelance?”

Other than that, just make sure you’re taking care of the basics, and you should be able to freelance without any problems.

Let’s see some of the best types of business entities for freelancers you might consider.

Types of business entities for freelancers

You can choose from a few different types of entities, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Below, we will discuss the 3 most common types of business entities for freelancers: sole proprietorship, S corporation, and limited liability company.

We will also talk about the pros and cons of each one. You can make an informed decision about which type of entity is best for your business.

do i need a business license to freelance

1. Sole proprietorship

Many freelancers choose to operate as sole proprietorships. This business structure is relatively simple and inexpensive to set up, and it gives the sole proprietor complete control over the business. The business and the owner are considered one and the same in a sole proprietorship.

However, it also means that the owner gets to keep all the profits the business generates. For many freelancers, the benefits outweigh the risks of operating as a sole proprietor. However, consulting with an accountant or attorney is essential to ensure that this business structure suits your particular situation.


  1. It’s easy to set up and maintain, and less paperwork and regulations are involved.
  2. The owner has complete control over the business and can make all operations, finances, and direction decisions.
  3. There is no need to split profits or decision-making with partners or shareholders.
  4. The sole proprietor can enjoy the full financial benefits of the business’s success or failure.


  1. The owner is legally responsible for all debts and obligations incurred by the business.
  2. The sole proprietor may have difficulty raising capital, as they are the only source of funding for the business.
  3. The business may suffer if the owner becomes ill or incapacitated.

2. LLC (Limited Liability Company)

A Limited Liability Company refers to a business structure that offers the limited liability protection of a corporation while allowing for the flexibility of a sole proprietorship or partnership. For freelancers, an LLC can provide many benefits, including personal asset protection and tax advantages.

While forming an LLC may require some upfront paperwork and filing fees, the peace of mind that comes with knowing your assets are protected from business debts, and liabilities can be well worth the effort. In addition, an LLC can help you to save on taxes by allowing you to deduct certain business expenses. An LLC is often a wise choice for freelance professionals looking for some added legal and financial protection.


  1. LLCs offer limited liability protection to their owners, which means that the owners are not liable for the debts and liabilities of the business. This can be a significant advantage if the business is sued or incurs debt.
  2. LLCs are relatively easy and inexpensive to set up and maintain. In most states, you must file a simple form with the Secretary of State’s office.
  3. LLCs offer flexibility in how the business can be structured and managed. For example, an LLC is manageable by its owners (member-managed) or a group of managers (manager-managed).
  4. Businesses can be sold without affecting ownership interests


  1. LLCs may be difficult to raise capital from investors or lenders, as they may perceive the business as too small or risky.
  2. LLCs are not required to hold annual meetings or keep minutes of meetings, making it challenging to hold owners accountable for their actions.
  3. LLCs may be subject to higher taxes in some states than other business entities.
  4. With more paperwork and regulations than in a sole proprietorship, members may have disagreements that could affect the business operations

3. S Corp (S Corporation)

A corporation is a business entity that offers liability protection. S corporations are business entities for freelancers that offer many benefits, such as the ability to have only one class of stock.

The S corp designation is given to corporations that meet specific IRS requirements, including having 100 or fewer shareholders and only one class of stock. Freelancers can choose to form an S corporation to enjoy the benefits of corporate status while avoiding some of the drawbacks, such as double taxation.

do i need a business license to freelance


  1. Like LLCs, S Corporations are pass-through entities, meaning the business is not taxed on its profits. Instead, the corporation owners pay taxes on their income tax returns. This can save you money on taxes since you only have to pay taxes once, at the individual level.
  2. S Corporation owners can avoid paying self-employment taxes on their business income. This can help you save money since self-employment taxes can be as high as 15%.
  3. S Corporations can have multiple owners, which makes them a good choice for businesses with more than one owner.
  4. Shareholders in an S corporation have limited liability, meaning they are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business.


  1. S Corporations are more complex than sole proprietorships and partnerships. They must file separate tax returns and follow specific corporate governance rules. Higher costs and paperwork are associated with running a corporation.
  2. S Corporations can only have certain types of shareholders, such as individuals, trusts, and estates. This can limit your options regarding raising money for your business.
  3. S corporations are not eligible for some of the same tax breaks that other types of businesses are, such as the small business health care tax credit.
  4. S corporations may be subject to state and federal income taxes in some states. This is something to keep in mind if you consider setting up an S corporation in a state with high taxes.

How to decide which entity is best for your business?

The best business entity for your freelancing business depends on many factors, including the size and scope of your business, the amount of capital you have to invest, and your liability tolerance.

A sole proprietorship may be the simplest and most straightforward option if you are just starting. However, an LLC or S corporation may be a better choice if you are looking for more protection from liability.

There are a few factors to consider when deciding which business entity is best for your business. These include the level of liability protection you need, the amount of paperwork and regulations you are willing to deal with, the ownership structure of your business, and the tax implications of each entity. You should consult a lawyer or accountant to determine which entity is best for your business situation.

What can happen if you don’t get a business license to freelance?

You could face severe penalties if you freelance without a business license. The first and most obvious penalty is that the government may fine you for operating without a license. In addition, if you are caught operating without a license, you may be required to obtain one to continue freelancing.

There are a few other potential consequences of operating without a business license as a freelancer. For example, you may have difficulty obtaining insurance coverage for your business. Clients may also be reluctant to work with you if they know you are not licensed.

Finally, you may have difficulty opening a business bank account or accessing business financing if you do not have a business license.

Overall, if you are concerned if you need a business license to freelance, it is in your best interest to obtain a business license before beginning to freelance. Doing so can avoid many potential penalties and consequences associated with operating without a license. Additionally, having a license can give you peace of mind knowing that you comply with the law.

If you are interested in obtaining a business license to freelance, there are a few things that you will need to do.

First, you will need to research the requirements for obtaining a license in your state.

Next, you will need to gather the required documentation.

Finally, you must apply to the appropriate government agency in your local area or state.


Applying for a business license is not always required for freelance work, but there are several instances where it may be beneficial. If you are unsure if you need a business license to freelance it is best to consult with an accountant or lawyer who can help advise you on the specific laws in your state.

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Written by Asma Younas

Staff at

Asma Younas is a Mphil scholar and blogger, passionate about adding value to people's lives. Dedicated to helping others achieve their goals, she loves being a regular contributor on various platforms.

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