For the love of your business

Do I need a business license as a freelance graphic artist working from home?

Clarifying Questions

Q: I’m a freelance graphic designer, who works alone from home. Do I need a business license?

-Inquiring Entrepreneur

A: Dear Inquiring:

Home-based businesses are booming, but many entrepreneurs overlook the fact that such operations are still subject to license and permit laws. The type of licensing required will depend on your industry and location.

Most states require certain professions—doctors, lawyers, architects, and massage therapists—to have state-issued licenses. As a graphic designer, you likely won’t need a state license, but many counties, cities, and municipalities require local business licenses, even for one-person, home-based operations.

Such local licenses are typically available by paying a small fee, and they allow you to conduct your business activities within a specific city, town, or county. However, home-based businesses are also subject to local zoning laws.

Many cities and counties require a “Home Occupation Permit,” which places limits on your operation, such as how many clients can visit your home daily, how much space the business can take up, and how many employees you can have. If your area is not zoned for home businesses, you may need to file for a variance or conditional-use permit.  

As a solo graphic designer, it’s highly unlikely you’ll face significant licensing restrictions, but it really depends on where you live. Contact a Creative Business Lawyer®, to ensure your operation has all of the necessary licensing and permits.

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