Do You Need a Business License to Dropship?

In a Nutshell

Our blog addresses the core questions like: Do you need a business license to dropship? We also clarify the distinction between licenses and permits and provide step-by-step guidance on obtaining a dropshipping license.

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The dropshipping model becomes more challenging in 2024, presenting entrepreneurs with plenty of opportunities alongside risks. There’s a common question that many budding dropshippers ask: do you need a business license to dropship?

In short, yes you do need a license to dropship!

A business licence is generally required for dropshipping, as it legitimises your operation in the eyes of the law and local authorities. However, it depends on various factors, including your location, the scale of your operation, and the products you plan to sell.

In most jurisdictions, business license is a must-have legal requirement for dropshipping.

However, some regions may have specific regulations or exemptions for certain types of businesses, including those operating primarily online or those with minimal revenue.

Demystifying Dropshipping Licences

Dropshipping requires adherence to legal regulations and licensing requirements. While the concept of obtaining licences may seem daunting at first, hence it’s essential to demystify the process and understand the steps involved.

  • Research your local licensing requirements
  • Gather the necessary documentation
  • Finally, Apply for a business license or seller’s permit.

Complete the application process as instructed, whether online, in person, or by mail, including any fees and supporting documents.

Once approved, prominently display your license to demonstrate compliance and build customer trust. This ensures legal operation and success in E-Commerce.

License vs. Permit: Clearing the Confusion

One confusion for aspiring dropshippers is the distinction between a business license and a seller’s permit.

While often used interchangeably, a business license and a seller’s permit serve different purposes. A business license legitimises your business, while the latter allows you to collect sales tax. Both may be necessary depending on your jurisdiction and business activities.

Not all dropshipping businesses may need a seller’s permit, especially if they’re not selling taxable goods or if they’re using a third-party platform that handles sales tax on their behalf.

Understanding License Requirements for Dropshipping

Dropshipping offers flexibility in product selection and vendor connection, allowing global reach. However, it’s important to keep legal requirements in consideration. Selling without adherence to laws can lead to consequences.

Do you need a business license to dropship or not? So, let’s break it down:

It depends. While no universal “dropshipping license” exists, most dropshipping businesses require two crucial things:

  1. Seller’s Permit: To collect sales tax from customers in your state. Most states require one if you sell taxable goods (physical or digital).
  2. Business License: This authorises your business operation within your city or county.

What Else to Consider

  • Certain products like food or hazardous materials might have additional licensing needs. Check specific regulations.
  • City and county laws can differ from state regulations. Research your specific location’s requirements.
  • Check if your dropshipping platform (e.g., Shopify) has specific license requirements.

Step-by-Step Guide to Get A License for Dropshipping

Sure, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you obtain a license for dropshipping:

Research Local Requirements

Do the research on the licensing requirements for dropshipping businesses in your local area. Check with your city or county government, as well as any relevant state or federal agencies, to determine what licences or permits you may need.

Determine Business Structure

Decide on the structure of your dropshipping business, whether it’s a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership, or corporation. Remember, your licensing requirement will vary according to the business structure you choose.

Obtain EIN (Employer Identification Number)

Apply for an EIN from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). The nine-digit EIN number is used to identify your business for tax purposes and would be necessary for certain types of licences or permits.

Apply for Business License

Complete the necessary paperwork and submit an application for a business license. You might be asked to provide information about your business, such as its name, address, structure, and type of products or services offered.

Apply for Seller’s Permit

If you plan to sell taxable goods through your dropshipping business, you may need to obtain a seller’s permit or sales tax permit from your state’s department of revenue or taxation. With this permission, you can charge customers sales tax and remit it to the right tax officials.

Submit Supporting Documentation

Along with your license and permit applications, you may need to provide supporting documentation such as identification, proof of address, business formation documents, and any other required paperwork.

Pay Fees

There may be fees for some licences and permits. Make sure to include any fees that are needed with your application and send payment according to the licencing authority’s directions.

Await Approval

After submitting your license and permit applications, wait for approval from the relevant authorities. This process could take a few weeks, so be patient and check back as needed to ensure your forms are handled on time.

Display Your License

Once approved, display your business license and any other required permits prominently at your place of business, whether physical or online. This demonstrates your compliance with the law and instills trust and confidence in your customers.

Renew as Necessary

Keep track of expiration dates for your business license and any permits, and renew them as necessary to maintain legal compliance. Because failure to renew on time could result in fines or penalties, so be sure to stay organised and proactive about renewals.

Do you Need A License for Shopify Dropshipping?

Shopify demands a business license but dropshippers usually skip it and face the consequencies. Since, a business license is the official recognition of your business you must have it.

Business license offers several benefits beyond legal compliance. It enhances your business’s credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of customers, suppliers, and financial institutions.

Additionally, having a license may facilitate access to certain services or resources that require proof of business legitimacy. In summary, it’s generally advisable to obtain one.


Digital Goods vs. Physical: License Considerations

When running a Shopify dropshipping business, one crucial aspect to consider is the type of products you’ll be selling—whether they’re digital goods or physical items. This distinction can have implications for licensing requirements and legal considerations.

For businesses selling digital goods, such as software, e-books, or digital art, licensing considerations may revolve around intellectual property rights, usage rights, and distribution agreements.

On the other hand, if your Shopify store deals in physical products, you may need to consider additional licensing requirements related to manufacturing, distribution, or resale.

Depending on the nature of the products, you might need to obtain specific permits or certifications to ensure compliance with safety, health, or environmental regulations.

Local License Regulations Explained: City vs. County

City and county governments often have their own sets of licensing requirements and procedures for businesses operating within their boundaries. While some regulations may apply uniformly across the region, others might vary based on factors such as business type, location, or zoning.

When establishing your Shopify dropshipping business, Familiarise yourself with the specific license regulations in both your city and county.

Go through the licensing requirements, application procedures, fees, and renewal processes applicable to your business.

Keep in mind, failure to adhere to these regulations could result in unexpected fines, penalties, or even the suspension of your business activities. Therefore, to better understand the licensing processes consider a reputed Shopify Development company that can facilitate you with all these legal matters.

When can you skip the license (and when not)

Once you’ve thoroughly examined the question, do you need a business license to dropship? and understood the local regulations, you might consider skipping obtaining a license if:

  • Your local laws exempt small online businesses.
  • You sell non-taxable goods like certain clothing items.
  • You’re selling as a hobby rather than a full-fledged business.

You shouldn’t skip a license if:

  • It’s a legal requirement in your area.
  • You’re selling taxable goods or services.
  • There’s a risk of legal action for operating without one.
  • Your business involves activities that clearly require licensing.

The Bottom Line

Before beginning dropshipping, familiarise yourself with the intricacies of business licencing. Follow all local requirements and get a business licence for dropshipping. Although you can start dropshipping without a license, you should not do it.


Dropshippers can mitigate risks, build credibility, and pave the way for long-term business growth by staying informed and adhering to licensing requirements.

I hope the question “Do you need a business license to dropship?” no longer lingers in your mind. However, if you still feel overwhelmed by the technical jargon, it’s better to consult a professional Shopify Development Company like FuturByte. Connect with us and leave all the legal intricacies to us.

Do you need a business license to dropship?

Yes, you do need a business licence to legally operate your business in multiple locations. Check the laws in your region to see if you need a license for your dropshipping business.

What kind of license do I need for dropshipping?

The specific license required for dropshipping might vary depending on your location and the business structure. In most cases, you’ll need a general business license, and if you’re selling taxable goods, you may also need a seller’s permit or sales tax permit.

How do I obtain a license for dropshipping?

To obtain a license for dropshipping, you’ll typically need to research the licensing requirements in your area, gather necessary documentation, and complete an application process. This may involve submitting forms, paying fees, and providing information about your business.

Can I operate without a license for dropshipping?

No, operating without a required license can lead to legal consequences, including fines, penalties, or the suspension of your business operations.

Are there any exemptions for dropshipping businesses?

Some jurisdictions may offer exemptions or reduced requirements for small businesses, online businesses, or certain types of products. However, it’s crucial to research and verify the specific regulations in your area to determine if any exemptions apply to your dropshipping business.

What if I'm dropshipping internationally?

If you’re dropshipping internationally, you’ll need to comply with the licensing requirements not only in your own country but also in the countries where you’re selling products. Be sure to research and understand the regulations in each relevant jurisdiction.

Do I need a separate license for each product category?

In most cases, you won’t need a separate license for each product category. However, if you’re selling specialised or regulated products, such as firearms or pharmaceuticals, additional licences or permits may be required.

How often do I need to renew my dropshipping license?

The renewal frequency for dropshipping licences can vary depending on the type of license you hold. Some licences may need to be renewed annually, while others may have longer renewal periods. Be sure to read relevant policies.

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