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Maryland Checklist for New Businesses

     Starting a business is an exciting and challenging undertaking. To help ensure your business' success, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the basic requirements for starting a business in Maryland. The following checklist provides a convenient starting point. Other useful information can be found of the Corporate Charter unit page and the Business Personal Property page.

    NOTE: This pamphlet is not intended to be comprehensive and should not be used as the sole reference when starting a business. Regulations and other legal requirements change constantly and there may be some obligations for your specific business activity this pamphlet does not cover. We strongly suggest you consult an attorney, accountant or other business consultant.


Select Your Business Structure

The first step in establishing a business in the State of Maryland is to determine which form of business structure is most appropriate for your operations. The four most common forms of business structure are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability company. Each structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered. Choosing the appropriate organizational structure for your business is one of the most important decisions made and may require advice from an attorney, accountant or other professional advisor.

Once you have chosen a structure for your business, the next step is to complete the necessary registration requirements.

Create Your Business Structure
    Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships
    Sole proprietorships or general partnerships require no legal entry formalities except compliance with State and local licensing and taxation requirements.

    Legal Entities (Corporations, Limited Liability Companies,
    For information about registration requirements for legal entities, contact:
         State Department of Assessments and Taxation
         Corporate Charter Division
         301 West Preston Street, 8th Floor
         Baltimore, MD 21201
         Telephone: (410) 767-1340

Select and Register Your Business Name

Naming the business is a critical step. You can select a business name yourself, or you can hire a professional to do the search on availability and file the necessary forms.

For information on trade name availability and forms contact:
     State Department of Assessments and Taxation
     Trade Name Search and Registration
     301 West Preston Street
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone: (410) 767-1340

For information on corporate name availability and forms, contact:
     State Department of Assessments and Taxation
     Corporate Name Availability
     301 West Preston Street
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone: (410) 767-1340

Register a trade name

You may register a "trade name" with the Department of Assessments and Taxation. A trade name, is the name by which a business is known to the public to distinguish it from another business or person.

For information on trade name availability and forms contact:
     State Department of Assessments and Taxation
     Trade Name Search and Registration
     301 West Preston Street
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone: (410) 767-1340

You may register a "trademark" with the Secretary of State's office. A trademark is a unique graphic symbol or logo associated with a business, which distinguishes it from another business or person.

For more information on trademark registration contact:
Trademark Division
Office of the Secretary of State
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401

Obtain Business Personal Property Tax Information

Business Personal Property and Local Taxation Requirements
In Maryland, businesses must pay an annual tax based on the value of their business personal property (furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, equipment, etc.). The Department of Assessments and Taxation administers the valuation process while the counties and towns collect the tax based on the location of the property.

The Department automatically registers corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships for this tax when these legal entities form. All other businesses (sole proprietorships, general partnerships) that own or lease personal property or need a business license are required to: 1) obtain an identification number by registering with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, and 2) file an annual business personal property return. For information regarding business personal property assessments contact:

     State Department of Assessments and Taxation
     Business Personal Property Division
     301 West Preston Street
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone - sole proprietors, general partnerships: (410) 767-4991
     Telephone - legal entities: (410) 767-1170

Obtain Federal, State and Local Tax Information

All businesses must fulfill their tax obligations to the federal government and the State of Maryland.

Maryland Tax Registration
For information on obtaining and completing registration documents for the State of Maryland contact:

     Taxpayer Registration Assistance Center
 Comptroller of Maryland, Central Registration Unit
     301 West Preston Street
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone: 410-260-7980 from the Baltimore area
     1-800-638-2937 from elsewhere in Maryland

Other local taxes in Maryland require no additional registration. If you have questions about county and local taxes, contact the appropriate county finance or treasurer's Office where the business will be located. View a list of local government tax billing and collection cffice.

Federal Taxation Requirements-Internal Revenue Service
New businesses should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to register for: an employer identification number; income tax- business and employee withholding; social security; federal unemployment insurance; and other federal taxes. The IRS provides business kits for three types of businesses: sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.
For additional information, contact:     
     Internal Revenue Service
31 Hopkins Plaza
     Baltimore, MD 21201
     Telephone: (410) 962-2590
     Toll-free: (800) 829-1040

Check County and Local Zoning Requirements

Be sure you choose a location properly zoned for your business activity. Other factors to consider include regulations on business signs and parking at the location. If you are planning to operate a business from home, you will need to consider whether your community or county restricts home-based businesses.

To obtain more information on local zoning and building requirements, contact the planning and zoning department in the county in which your business will be located. View a list of Maryland counties at

Check State and Local License Requirements

Business Licenses
A State of Maryland Business License is required for most businesses, including retailers and wholesalers. A traders license is required for buying and re-selling. Business activities that require licenses include, but are not limited to: amusements; auctions; chain stores; construction; dry cleaners; farm machinery; garages; hawkers and peddlers; junk dealers; plumbing and gas fitters; restaurants; retail stores; storage warehouses; traders; and, vending machines. To determine whether your particular business activity requires licensing by the State, and needs to have any additional licenses and permits, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which your business will be located.

Jurisdictions with municipal corporations may require a license for businesses operating within their corporate limits. If your business is located in a municipal corporation, check with your municipal offices to see if a local business license is required.

You can get more information on State and local business license requirements from:
Department of Business and Economic Development
Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation

Obtain and complete Application for Maryland Business License

Applications for the Maryland business license may be obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which your business will be located.

Regulatory Licenses:

Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
The Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation is a major occupational and professional licensing agency in the State of Maryland. The Department is also responsible for the enforcement of commerce, employment, and workplace and public safety laws.

Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (888) 218-5925
The Department's Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing regulates many business occupations and professions. Individuals working in the following areas need to obtain occupational or professional licenses in addition to State and local business licenses:

  • Architects
  • Barbers
  • Bay Pilots
  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Cosmetologists
  • Master Electricians
  • Examining Engineers
  • Foresters
  • Heating Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  • Home Improvement Contractors and Sales
  • Interior Designers
  • Landscape Architects
  • Office of Cemetery Oversight
  • Professional Engineers
  • Professional Land Surveyors
  • Plumbers
  • Real Estate Appraisers
  • Real Estate Brokers and Sales
  • Secondhand Precious Metal Object Dealers and Pawnbrokers
  • Sports Agents
  • Members of the Boxing, Kickboxing and Wrestling Industry

For most occupations and professions, individuals must meet educational and work experience standards as well as pass a qualifying examination in order to obtain a license.

Division of Labor and Industry (410) 767-2236

The Division of Labor and Industry protects and promotes the health, safety and employment rights of Maryland citizens. The Division administers laws governing these areas (the underlined laws require licensing):

  • Maryland Occupational Safety and Health
  • Wage Payment
  • Employment of Minors
  • Prevailing Wage
  • Amusement Ride Safety
  • Boiler, Pressure Vessel, Elevator and Escalator Safety
  • Employment Agencies
  • Farm Labor Contractor Registration

Division of Financial Regulation (410) 230-6100

The Division of Financial Regulation regulates and, in many instances, licenses, the operation of banks, credit unions, consumer loan companies, sales finance companies, mortgage companies, and collection agencies.

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
500 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Telephone: (410) 230-6000