Business Licensing and renewals FAQs


What is a Business License Application?

What is a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number?

When can I use my UBI number?

Who needs a business license?

How can I submit a Business License Application?

How long will it take to fill out the Business License Application?

How long will it take to process my application?

How much does it cost to file a Business License Application?

What will happen after I file the Business License Application?

Are there other licensing requirements I must meet that aren’t covered by the Business License Application?

How can I add endorsements to my business license?

Do I need a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)?

How do I change corporation, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership names?

Can I request a business record search about other businesses?

Do I have to renew my Business License?

How do I know if my business license needs to be renewed?

Where can I go to renew my business license?

How early can I file a renewal?

Why do I have a late penalty?

Why is my renewal not renewing for a full 12 months?

Do owners qualify for or need unemployment or industrial insurance?

When will I get my tax reporting forms?

How often will I need to complete tax reports?

What is a Business License Application?

The Business License Application (BLA) is a simplified application used to apply for many state and city endorsements, registrations, and permits. 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 or change a business location.
  • Register or change a trade name.
  • Hire employees.
  • Apply for a Minor Work Permit.
  • Add an endorsement to an existing business location.
  • Get optional insurance coverage for the business owner.
  • Hire people to work in or around your home.

What is a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number?

A UBI number is a nine-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.

When can I use my UBI number?

As soon as the UBI is issued, you may begin using it for business purposes. Some business licenses require that you have the license posted before you can officially open your business to the public.

Who needs a business license?

You need a license if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your business requires city and state endorsements.
  • You are doing business using a name other than your full name legal name.
  • You plan to hire employees within the next 90 days.
  • You sell a product or provide a service that requires the collection of sales tax.
  • Your gross income is $12,000 per year or more.
  • Your business is required to pay taxes or fees to the Department of Revenue.
  • You are a buyer or processor of specialty wood products.

​To find more about products or services that are taxable, see the Business tax guide, or call 360-705-6705.

How can I submit a Business License Application?

There are two ways to file the Business License Application and supplemental forms:

Online

File online with My DOR.

By mail

Complete the Business License Application and supplemental forms and mail to:

Business Licensing Service
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034


How long will it take to fill out the Business License Application?

It takes approximately 15–30 minutes to complete an application.

How long will it take to process my application?

The business license application will take approximately 10 business days to process. If you have city or state endorsements, it may take an additional 2-3 weeks to receive your business license due to approval time.


How much does it cost to file a Business License Application?

The application fee for a Business License Application varies; see instructions on how to determine your processing fee.

There are also additional fees associated with the various endorsements, registrations, or permits you may need for your business.


What will happen after I file the Business License Application?

You will receive a Unified Business Identifier (UBI), Business License, and the Department of Revenue will send you information about handling sales tax and business and occupation taxes.

If you indicate on the Business License Application that you plan to hire employees, the Department of Labor & Industries and the Employment Security Department will send you information about employee quarterly report forms.

To learn more about tax reporting in Washington, watch this video workshop.

Are there other licensing requirements I must meet that aren’t covered by the Business License Application?

Yes, although there are over 400 state and city endorsements that can be applied for by using the Business License Application, your business may have additional local, state, or federal licensing requirements. The Business Licensing Wizard will provide you with information to identify any additional requirements.

How can I add endorsements to my business license?

To add endorsements, submit a Business License Application and any required supplemental forms and fees.

File online with My DOR

Learn how to:

Get a business license
Add a city endorsement to your business
Add a state endorsement to your business

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.​

Can I request a business record search about other businesses?

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:

  • Business Lookup - When you are using the Business Lookup tool, you will first need to select the type of account you are looking for. The most common search types are by tax account, reseller permit, and by general business license.

Tax account: use this search to show information related to the registered tax account. This name may not be the same as the trade name the business is operating under, and not all businesses will have a tax account.

Reseller permit: use this search to verify the business name on a reseller permit, if it is active, and the effective dates.

General business license: use this search to find information about the Department of Revenue business license. This may not be the same name that is used for a tax account.


Do I have to renew my Business License?

If your business is a corporation, a limited liability company, a limited liability partnership, or requires a state or city endorsement available through the Business Licensing Service, you will need to renew your license annually. The expiration date is determined when you apply, and will be printed on the top right hand side of your Business License under the Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number.

Business Licensing Service sends a courtesy renewal notice to owners approximately 45 days before their license expires. If you don’t receive a renewal notice, please contact the Business Licensing Service at 360-705-6741.

For licenses not handled through the Business Licensing Service, contact the regulatory agency listed on your license or permit.

How do I know if my business license needs to be renewed?

Business licenses with state or city endorsements are renewed annually. If any of these endorsements appear on your Business License, an expiration date will be printed in the upper right-hand corner. If you have multiple endorsements, it is possible that there are multiple expiration dates, and those dates will be printed next to the endorsement they refer to.

Renewals are due before the expiration date printed on your Business License.

Where can I go to renew my business license?

To renew online:
Renew a business license

To file by mail:
Call 360-705-6705 to have a paper copy of your renewal form, with the itemized fees for your accounts, mailed to the mailing address on file.

Courtesy reminders for renewals are mailed out 45 days before the expiration date. Regardless of whether this notice is received your renewal is due by the expiration date printed on the license. Penalty fees will be charged if not completed by the expiration date.

How early can I file a renewal?

You are eligible to renew your Business License up to two months before the expiration date printed on your license.

Why do I have a late penalty?

Renewals are due by the expiration date. Renewals received after the expiration date are charged a late penalty fee. These fees cannot be waived, for further details see RCW 19.02.085.

Why is my renewal not renewing for a full 12 months?

Renewals will prorate to an existing expiration date in the following situations:

  • A new city has partnered with the DOR to do their city licensing and had a different expiration date on file from the DOR.
  • A state endorsement was recently applied for. Most state endorsement origination fees pay for a full 12 months, and the expiration date prorates to the existing expiration date on file.​

Do owners qualify for or need unemployment or industrial insurance?

For more information contact the Department of Labor & Industries and the Employment Security Department.


When will I get my tax reporting forms?

You should receive your tax forms from the Department of Revenue, Department of Labor & Industries, and the Employment Security Department at the end of the first quarter in which you start reporting. You will need to file personal property taxes with your county assessor. Contact your local assessor for instructions.


How often will I need to complete tax reports?

New accounts generally need to report every quarter; however, you may change your reporting frequency to monthly or annually. You will be notified of any changes and sent the appropriate tax returns for filing. Personal property listings must be filed with your county assessor's office by April 30 of each year.