Register and apply for licenses
After completing your business plan, it's time to register and license your business. Register your business BEFORE signing a lease or spending start-up money. Find out what to expect by reviewing the steps below.
Registration and Licensing Checklist
Register Your Business Structure
Choose a Business Structure
Register with the Secretary of State
- Corporations, limited liability companies (LLC) and limited partnerships must register with the Washington Secretary of State
- The Secretary of State will issue a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) and send you formation documents. Be sure to use the same name and UBI when dealing with all agencies.
- Learn the requirements for your entity type.
License Your Business with the State and the City of Spokane
Determine Your Licensing Requirements
The Business License Application is a single application used to apply for a Spokane Business License and many other state licenses and permits, and to register trade names with the state. The system charges a $19 base filing fee each time an application is submitted. The fee for the Spokane license is $113.
Submit Your Business License Application
Use the Business License Application to apply for the Spokane Business License and State Business License, and to establish accounts, including:
After you submit your business license application, these agencies will contact you to set up your accounts.
Re-Filing the Business License Application
You may need to file (or re-file) a Business License Application ($19) when you:
- Change address or finalize your business location.
- Plan to hire employees in the next 90 days.
- Need a minor work permit to hire employees under 18 (takes about 1 day).
- Apply for a liquor license, which you do after securing your location (takes 60-90 days to approve).
Apply for Business Licenses for Other Jurisdictions, if Needed
- If you open another location or cater outside the City of Spokane, you'll also need a business license for that city. The state Business Licensing Service processes business license applications for many cities, but if you don't see yours listed, contact that city directly.
State Specialty Licenses
State specialty licenses
Get Expert Advice
Consider consulting with an attorney and accountant before registering and licensing your business.
To sell beer, wine, and/or spirits at your location, you'll need a state liquor license.
- Get an overview of requirements.
- Many different types of licenses are available. The most common for restaurants are:
- Retail Restaurant – Beer Only
- Retail Restaurant – Wine Only
- Retail Restaurant – Beer and Wine
- Retail Restaurant – Spirits, Beer, and Wine
- Double-check requirements before submitting your application.
- If you are uncertain which type of liquor license is best for you, call the Liquor and Cannabis Board at 360.664.1600. A customer service representative will help you determine which license types are best for your business plan.
- Apply for a liquor license using the Business License Application and complete the Liquor and Cannabis Board Addendum-Retail (MS Word 88 KB).
- Start your Liquor License Application any time, but note that you'll need to secure your location before the application can be processed.
- It takes 60-90 days for the Liquor and Cannabis Board to decide on your application, but you may be eligible for a temporary license after 30-45 days.
Lottery Retailer License
Cigarette Retailer and/or Tobacco Products Retailer License
- Gambling is regulated by the Washington State Gambling Commission. Gambling license applications are available online and at the Lacey headquarters office. Plan ahead: it takes about 45-60 days to process your application. See the Overview of Gambling License process (PDF 76 KB).
- Note: City of Spokane requires businesses to report and pay Gambling Taxes as applicable per SMC 08.04.
Set Up Your Federal Identification
Register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before you open a business bank account, hire any employees or owe any taxes.
- Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number. The Employer Identification Number (EIN) is the primary way to legally establish your business. EIN is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. You'll get yours on the same day if you apply online. By mail, it takes up to 5 weeks.
- Enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. You're required to enroll your business in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) to report and pay any tax due to the IRS.
The information in this guide is accurate as of July 2015. Always consult with the appropriate department or agency for current requirements.