Licenses and registration checklist
As you proceed through the process of starting your business, use this checklist as a guide to ensure you operate your business in compliance with federal, state and local governments.
For information and help in starting or growing your small business, contact a Missouri Small Business & Technology Development Center office near you. A list of centers is available or call 573-884-1555 for help. Explore MissouriBusiness.net for information, forms, publications and links to training courses.
One of our partners, Missouri SourceLink offers a toll-free call center. Their staff can assist with specific questions about Missouri small business licenses and registrations. Contact them at 866-870-6500.
Critical steps in the planning process
- Register the name of your business with the Secretary of State (866-223-6535) by filing the necessary forms and paperwork. The way to register a name is different for each type of legal structure. Choices of Legal Structures are sole proprietorship, partnership, limited partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), or corporation. A discussion of the issues involved in the legal formation of your company can be found in Doing Business in Missouri: Legal Formation. Each legal structure has unique registration requirements, which are outlined below:
- Sole Proprietorship and Partnerships: file a “Registration of Fictitious Name” s1.sos.mo.gov/business%5Ccorporations%5Cforms.asp.
- Corporations and LLC: file the articles of incorporation or articles of organization (LLC), which can be found at: s1.sos.mo.gov/business%5Ccorporations%5Cforms.asp.
- Information on federal requirements on LLCs can be found online at: irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3402.pdf.
- S-corporation status: requires that you form your Missouri corporation or LLC and also file IRS Form 2553: irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f2553.pdf.
To check on the availability of a business name, you can search the Secretary of State’s database online at: bsd.sos.mo.gov/BusinessEntity/BESearch.aspx
- Obtain local business licenses through the city or county government (generally this is the city clerk or county clerk).
- A sales tax number or use tax is needed if you will be selling at retail. Collection of sales tax is required by any business making retail sales. Those businesses buying wholesale or operating solely as a wholesaler should complete a Form 149 Sales/Use Tax Exemption Certificate (see: dor.mo.gov/forms/149.pdf) and provide it to their supplier. Go to the Missouri Department of Revenue site at: https://dors.mo.gov/tax/coreg/index.jsp or call at 573-751-5860 to get a sales tax number or sales tax exemption.
- Federal Identification Number (EIN). Generally required only when you have business partners, hire employees, form a corporation or LLC; however, your bank may require and EIN to open a business account. Go to the IRS website at irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf to get form SS4.
Before you hire that employee:
- Obtain a Federal Employer Identification number (IRS form SS4) irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf.
- Obtain a Missouri Employer withholding number by filing Missouri Department of Revenue form 2643 (Missouri DOR: 573-751-5860) or use this fillable form: dor.mo.gov/forms/2643.pdf.
- File form 2699 to determine liability status for Unemployment Insurance labor.mo.gov/DES/Forms/2699-5-AI.pdf contributions to the Missouri unemployment compensation fund. For more information, contact the Missouri Division of Employment Security at 573-751-3215; online at labor.mo.gov/Employers.
- Make appropriate arrangements to pay Workers’ Compensation Insurance. For more information call Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation 800-775-2667 or 573-751-4231 or online at labor.mo.gov.
Once you have hired the employee:
- Each employee must complete the IRS form W-4 and a Missouri form W-4. A copy of the federal W-4 or the Missouri form must be forwarded to the Missouri Department of Revenue within 20 days of the new hire. For more information, visit the IRS website at irs.gov.
- The employee must complete an I-9 — the employer keeps this form on hand in a separate file. Download the form at: uscis.gov/files/form/i-9.pdf.
- With the first payroll you will:
- Withhold state income tax and federal income tax at a percentage determined by salary and exemption information stated on the form W-4.
- Withhold 6.2 percent of the employee’s salary for Social Security taxes.
- Pay 6.2 percent of the amount of the employee’s salary for Social Security taxes.
- Withhold 1.45 percent of the employee’s salary for Medicare taxes.
- Pay 1.45 percent of the employee’s salary for Medicare taxes.
- Make monthly payment of these taxes to an approved banking institution on the 15th of the month.
- File reports with the government on a quarterly and annual basis; and, issue W-2 reports to employees at the end of the year.
- For more information, visit the IRS website at: irs.gov.IRS Publication #15 (irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p15.pdf) is a good resource.
The employer may be required to display appropriate work posters informing employees of their rights regarding discrimination, unemployment benefits, worker compensation, Equal Employment, Federal Minimum Wage, FMLA, OSHA, and Polygraph Protection Act. Requirements are explored at dol.gov/elaws/posters.htm and posters can be downloaded from dol.gov/osbp/sbrefa/poster/main.htm
Review OSHA guidelines and check workplace safety procedures with all employees. Contact OSHA Region 7 (816-483-9531) or osha.gov/oshdir/mo.html.
Resources related to hiring employees include:
- Evaluate the feasibility of your business idea. Refer to Evaluating a Business Idea for help evaluating your idea and estimate your startup costs before you spend a lot of time and money.
- Prepare a written business plan. Refer to Guide to Writing a Business Plan or Doing Business in Missouri: Business Plan for help.
- Check on local zoning ordinances, regulations, building permits and fire codes through the city or county government.
- Determine whether your business requires a state or federal license or permit to operate. Also check on state or federal regulations that may affect your business.
- Select a banking institution and open a business account.
- Contact an insurance agent and consult with him or her regarding fire, accident, liability, theft, and other types of commercial insurance.
- Contact an accountant. Determine if you are required to make quarterly estimated income tax payments to the IRS and self-employment tax payments. Information on taxes for small business and/or self-employed can be found at irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed.
- File annual tax information for state and federal government.
- Keep a good set of records for all business activities. (See What kind of records should small business owners keep? and Record keeping for suggestions and details.)
For personalized help exploring business ideas, marketing, finance, management, technology, international trade, growth or other business issues, contact a business specialist at a center near you. Or visit the full list of training courses to find an upcoming training seminar.
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