Business Licensing Service hits milestone with 200th local licensing partner

State’s signature licensing solution will support every eligible community in 2022

OLYMPIA, Wash. – March 31, 2022 – A project launched a quarter century ago to help boost local business is marking a major milestone today after welcoming its 200th partner, the Whatcom County community of Nooksack.

The Department of Revenue’s Business Licensing Service (BLS) is on track to serving all Washington cities and towns eligible to become BLS partners. The remaining 60+ municipalities either do not issue local licenses or access a separate licensing partnership.

Through the years, the BLS has streamlined business license application and renewal processes for hundreds of state and local licenses using the same secure portal that facilitates state tax reporting. The service also makes it easier for businesses to apply for and renew business licenses and endorsements, while saving municipal governments money and time.

The complete list of BLS partner cities is at https://dor.wa.gov/city-license-endorsements.


Background

Richland was first city to partner with what was first called the Master License Service (MLS) on Feb. 1, 1997. Twenty-five years and 199 local partners later, BLS is on track to partner with every eligible city and town in Washington state in 2022, meeting a critical deadline established by lawmakers in  2017.

The proposal and deadline were drafted with support from the Association of Washington Cities, the Association of Washington Business, the National Federation of Independent Business, and individual city stakeholders.

The predecessor MLS was created in 1977 with the passage of the Business License Center Act. The act created the public partnership that now streamlines service for businesses that must register with both state and local licensing programs.

Business Licensing Service Milestones

1975 –An Olympia general store merchant suggests to gubernatorial staff member Ralph Munro (later Secretary of State) combining state licensing processes.

1976 – The state Department of Commerce pilots a combined-licensing program, serving only Grocery Store-type businesses.

1977 – Business License Center Act is approved by state Legislature.

1997 – Master License Service adds first local partner – City of Richland.

2002 – Gov. Gary Locke issues Executive Directive to encourage more local licensing partnerships.

2011 – Lawmakers approve moving Master License Service to Department of Revenue; program rebranded as Business Licensing Service (BLS).

2016 – Department of Revenue implements the ATLAS computer system replacement to support business licensing administration and taxpayer registrations.

2017 – Lawmakers approve EHB 2005 to encourage all Washington cities to utilize a licensing portal system.

2019 – BLS adds the 100th local licensing partner – Town of Springdale.

2020 – BLS issues two-year plan to increase city participation and support roughly 170 local licensing partners before 2022.

2022 – BLS adds Nooksack as its 200th city partner on March 31.

2022 – BLS will add its 215th local partner to complete the local licensing requirements established by EHB 2005 (2017).

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The Department of Revenue is Washington state’s primary tax agency, nationally recognized for innovation and quality customer service. Revenue administers nearly 60 categories of taxes that help fund education, social services, health care, corrections, public safety, natural resource conservation and other important services Washington residents count on.