WA State Licensing: FAQ - Business license

Frequently asked questions: Business licensing

What is a Business License Application?
The Business License Application is a simplified application used to apply for many state licenses, registrations, and permits, and some city licenses. You may use it to:
  • Apply for a Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number or tax registration number.
  • Open or reopen a business.
  • Change ownership of a business.
  • Open a new business location.
  • Change business locations.
  • Register or change a trade name.
  • Hire employees.
  • Get a Minor Work Permit.
  • Add licenses to an existing business location.
  • Get optional insurance coverage for the business owner.
  • Hire people to work in or around your home.
The Unified Business Identifier Number (UBI) can be used to identify your business account with many different agencies.
What is a UBI (Unified Business Identifier) number?
A UBI number is a 9-digit number that registers you with several state agencies and allows you to do business in Washington State. A UBI number is sometimes called a tax registration number, a business registration number, or a business license number. Use the Business License Application to apply for a UBI number.
Who needs a business license?
You need a license if you meet 1 or more of the following criteria:
  • Your business grosses $12,000 or more per year.
  • You’re doing business using a name other than your full legal name.
  • You plan to hire employees within the next 90 days.
  • You sell a product or provide a service that is taxable. To find out more about what products or services are taxable, see the Department of Revenue’s Business tax guide, or call them at 1-800-647-7706.
  • Your business has specialty licenses available through the Business Licensing Service.
If you need to get a business license, file a Business License Application.
How can I submit a Business License Application?
There are two ways to file the Business License Application and supplemental forms:
How long will it take to fill out the Business License Application?
The application takes approximately 15–30 minutes to complete.
How much does it cost to file a Business License Application?
There is a $19 non-refundable processing fee for the Business License Application. You must also pay different fees associated with the various licenses, registrations, or permits you may need for your particular business. For more information, see the License Fee Sheet.
Are there other licensing requirements I must meet that aren’t covered by the Business License Application?
Yes. Although there are over 100 state licenses that can be obtained by using the Business License Application, your business may have additional local, state, or federal licensing requirements. The Business Licensing Guide will provide you with information to identify those additional requirements.
How can I add registrations or licenses to my business?
  1. Get information and forms based on your business activity from the Business Licensing Guide or call Business Licensing Service at 1-800-451-7985.
  2. File online or File by paper
    Note: If the license you want isn't available through the Business Licensing Service, contact the agencies, cities, or counties listed on your business Business Licensing Guide sheet.
Do I need a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)?
Sole proprietors who aren’t employers usually don’t have to apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). However, all other business types must apply for this registration whether they have employees or not. For more information about who needs an EIN or how to apply, visit the Internal Revenue Service.
How do I change corporation, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership names?
  • To make any changes to the legal entity name for your corporation, LLC, or LLP, you must contact the Washington Secretary of State at 360-725-0377.
  • If you need to update your firm name and it's the same as your legal entity name, contact Business Licensing Service at bls@dor.wa.gov.
Yes, we can also provide information about corporations or individuals conducting business under a trade name, or verify the existence of a business.
  • To look up business information online, go to:
  • To request a search by mail, send us a letter with all of the following:
    1. Your return address,
    2. A list of the names you want to research, and
    3. A check or money order to pay the search fee.

    The cost is $4 to search up to three names. Send your letter to:

    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034