Various federal and state agencies offer licensing programs for commercial businesses, depending on the business location and industry, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. To view the agencies that offer these programs in each state, business representatives can visit the SBA website at SBA.gov. Some of the agencies offering licensing programs for commercial businesses include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Licensing programs are mainly offered at the state level by city and county licensing officials, explains the SBA. However, commercial businesses that are involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency, such as selling alcohol, firearms and commercial fishing, need to obtain a federal license or permit.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers licensing programs for commercial businesses in the agricultural sector, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau covers businesses that manufacture, wholesale, import or sell alcoholic beverages. The Federal Communications Commission provides licenses for radio and television broadcasting; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service licenses businesses engaged in any wildlife-related activity; and the Federal Maritime Commission offers licenses to businesses that provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea.
SBA.gov posts a list of business activities that require a federal license or permit in order to operate. The site also provides active Internet links to all the state licensing agencies. After accessing SBA.gov, users then click on any state to view the general business permits, licenses and registrations required by the state, county or city in the United States.