How do I find out what I need to do to legally operate a
business in Idaho?
First, go through the Business Wizard
on this site. You will be asked five questions about your business and
then provided with a checklist of agencies to contact, the
reason to contact them, and a hot link to each agency's website. If
you don't find your particular industry listed, you should still
complete the Wizard by answering the questions about employees.
Also visit the Legal
Structure/DBAs section of this site for help in choosing and
registering a business
entity form and registering your business name.
You may also
want to call your local city clerk's office to find out if you need a
business license. Some communities license only a few business
activities; others license all businesses. You will find a list of city
clerks offices at city clerks.
I don’t know where to start. I have never been in
business before. Who can help me?
Click on the Business Assistance
button to the left. Under
Business Formation and Expansion you will see
links to the Small Business Administration, the Idaho Small Business
Development Center, Womens Business Center and SCORE, all of whom work
with start-ups. Click on the link for each organization to
find a location near you, then make an appointment for a
I have heard I need to follow numerous regulations if I
have employees. How do I cover all my bases?
First, click on the Employer Issues button
to the left and review the
information there. Then, click on the Employee or Independent Contractor
button on that page and review the information. You can have legal problems if
you wrongly classify a worker.
Next, go through the Business
Wizard and under Question 3 select either "Employees" or
"Both" (Employees and Independent Contractors). The resulting Checklist
contact information for
the agencies that regulate employment issues. Contact them to learn what
you must do to comply with their requirements.
What kind of licenses do I need to
be able to do business in Idaho?
It depends on your type of business; there are different
types of licenses and not all business
activities need a special license. To find out if your business needs one
(or more), click on the Licenses
button to the left and review the information there. Then, go through the Business
Wizard, and in Section 2, check all the items that may apply to your
business. After completing the Wizard you will receive a Checklist
which agencies license each activity. If your business's primary
activity doesn't appear in Section 2, then you may not need a special
license. However, depending on your business, you may still be licensed
at the local (city and county), and/or federal level. Your employees may
also need individual occupational licenses.
Many Idaho cities require some or all
businesses to obtain a city business license. To find out if you need
one, call your local city clerk's office. A list of city clerk's offices
with contact information is found at City_Clerks.htm.
If your business will be located outside the city limits, contact your
county clerk or recorder's office to find out if you need a county business
If you plan to sell a product or offer
certain types of services, you may need a sales tax permit, also called
a reseller's permit. Visit the
Taxes section of this site to find a link to the
form to submit.
If you plan to have a home-based business,
visit the Hot Topics section of this website
to find out what additional licenses or permits you may need and
other special requirements that may affect your business. Also choose
"Home Business" in addition to your business activity when you complete the Business Wizard.
How do I find out if another
business is already using the name I want to use?
You can make a Business Entity Search on the Idaho
Secretary of State’s website using the form found at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?SearchFormstep=crit.
After entering the name you want to use, the site will indicate if it is
already being used in Idaho. You may also want to look for similar names
spelled differently or those containing a slight variation, such as
Shoppe or Centre. Also do an Internet search to find regional or
national companies using the same or a similar name. You may want to
avoid choosing a name similar to an existing business. Your business could
be confused with the other business and that may not be in your best
interests, particularly if the other business has a questionable
reputation or may have financial problems.
Once you decide on your business name, you can print the form
to apply for an
Assumed Business Name (also called a DBA) from the same website and mail
it in with payment. (Note: you must file your application by mail or
fax; you cannot register online. An original signature is required.)
If you plan to
organize your business as a corporation or an LLC, you must choose a
unique name not currently in use in Idaho.
For information on
protecting your business name, go to Trademarks, Service
Marks on the Hot Topics page
of this site. Also visit the Legal Structure/DBAs
section of this website for more information on choosing and registering a business
name and entity type.
How do I obtain a permit to
make retail sales in Idaho?
To make retail sales in Idaho, you will need to
obtain an Idaho sales tax permit by
completing form IBR-1, Idaho Business Registration, which can be completed on-line at
If you plan to sell your products
for only a short time, such as at a festival or trade show, you can
print a temporary sales tax permit at
Businesses that rent certain items, such as construction or yard/lawn equipment,
tables, chairs, tents and similar items, must also have a sales tax
permit. Sales tax is also charged on admission to special events.
How do I know whether to set up a Sole Proprietorship,
Partnership, Corporation, or an LLC? How do I change from one to the other?
Structure/DBAs page on this site contains a description of each
entity type. After reading the information, if you are still not sure which legal entity is right for you,
contact the Small Business Administration, your nearest Idaho Small Business
Development Center, Womens Business Center or your regional SCORE office. They are listed
under Business Formation and Expansion on the Business Assistance
button to the left. A counselor will explain the various legal
entities and help you choose the best one for your business.
Because your entity choice will affect
the taxes you pay and how and when you pay them, you may want to contact an
accountant and/or an attorney to be certain you have selected the best
entity type for your particular business.
Once you have decided on an entity type, you can download the
necessary forms from the Secretary of State’s
website at http://www.sos.idaho.gov/corp/corindex.htm.
If you choose to register as anything other than a sole proprietorship,
an attorney will need to prepare the required Operating
Agreement, Articles of Incorporation, by-laws, or partnership agreement.
To change from one business entity type to another, check
the information found on the Legal
Structure/DBAs section of this site. You may
need the assistance of an attorney and an accountant to properly close your existing entity
type, pay any taxes owed, change employee withholding information and file the
paperwork for the new entity type.
If you are a corporation and you want to change your name
or status, you must file Articles of Amendment. Visit the
State’s website for more information.
When you change entity types, you need to
contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to determine how
your tax reporting may change. You may need to file a final
tax report for your old entity type.
You may also need to contact the Idaho State Tax Commission
and the ID Department of Labor if you have employees and are required to withhold
unemployment taxes. Information is available on the Legal
Structure/DBA section of this website at
I am thinking of giving up my business. How do
I make that decision? What do
I need to do to close the business?
To close the business, you will need to contact several agencies to
cancel permits and licenses, file a final tax return and
more. Begin by clicking on the Business Assistance
button to the left where you will find a list of agencies under
Business Sale/Dissolution. You will see the Idaho Small Business
Development Center and SCORE listed. Contact the nearest office to make an appointment for
a free consultation. A counselor can help you make the decision to
continue in business or call it quits and he/she can help
I am having trouble competing with big box stores and
major suppliers. Where can I get help?
Click on the Business Assistance
button to the left. Then, under
you will see the Idaho Small Business Development
Center, Small Business Administration, and SCORE. Contact the nearest office
to make an appointment for a consulting
What is a vendor’s license and where do I get it?
Businesses that engage in temporary retail sales or solicitation of sales for future
delivery, including businesses that sell door-to-door or at festivals, events,
and trade shows, must obtain a vendor’s permit or a temporary vendor’s
permit, sometimes called a solicitor’s permit. For information, contact the City Clerk’s office in the city
where you will be doing business.
If you are engaged in door-to-door
sales, you and each of your employees may need to obtain a permit
in every city where you work. Each of you will have to undergo a
background check before the permit is issued and you may have to post a
bond. You and each of your employees must wear your permits in a visible
location on your clothing where it can be clearly seen by the person
In addition to a vendor's license, you will
also need an Idaho sales tax permit or a temporary sales tax permit. You can obtain
a permanent permit on-line by completing form IBR-1 found at https://labor.idaho.gov/applications/ibrs/ibr.aspx.
If you need only a temporary sales tax permit for a specific
event lasting a short period of time, you can print a temporary sales tax permit at
If you will be selling at a
promoter-sponsored exhibit or show, the promoter will ask you
to complete Form ST-124,
"Idaho Sales Tax Declaration,
Promoter-Sponsored Event." If your business doesn’t have an
seller’s permit, you will receive a temporary permit from the
promoter when you complete the ST-124. It is then your
responsibility to collect and remit sales tax.
How do I register to sell to the government or
become a preferred
If you want to sell to either the state or federal government, you must first
register to become a government contractor. See
Government Contracting/Procurement on the Hot Topics
section of this site for information.
Where can I get a DBA (also called an Assumed Business
Visit the Legal Structure/DBAs
page on this website or visit the Idaho Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.Idaho.gov/corp/corindex.htm.
Before registering a name, you can search the Secretary of State's on-line database at http://www.accessidaho.org/public/sos/corp/search.html?ScriptForm.startstep=crit
to find out if another business is
already using the name you want or a similar name.
Can I advertise on this site or put a link on this site?
Any state or federal government agency or
organization can be represented on this site if they license or regulate
business activities or offer business-related services. Local agencies, such as city
and county clerks' offices, are not represented individually, because there are so many
and their requirements vary from area to area. There is no cost to
listed on the website. This is not a commercial site,
so no advertising is accepted.
If your organization fits the above
criteria and you want to be listed on the site, send us a message via E-mail, then we
will review your site for possible inclusion. Please do not
place a link on your site and then expect us to provide a
What forms do I need to file to start a business?
It depends on the type of business you want to start.
Some types of businesses are more heavily regulated than others. First,
answer the questions on the Business Wizard on this site. The
resulting Checklist will tell you what forms you need to file and the
agencies with whom you need to file them. Also visit the Legal
Structure/DBAs page on this site for information about registering
your business entity form and your business name.
What loans and grants are available for starting a
Grants are generally
not available if you
want to start a typical for-profit business. The few available programs
are primarily for businesses engaged in developing new technology, using
natural resources in an innovative way or
creating jobs and the requirements are stringent. For more information, check out
Topics section of this site.
For loan information, do a search
on the Resource Wizard to find banks in your area
and special loan programs. Also check Loans on the
Hot Topics section of this site. You can also contact your
banker or your nearest Idaho Small Business Development Center,
SBA, Womens Business Center or SCORE office for information about loan programs that may fit your
What do I need to know about tax reporting for a new business?
The State Tax Commission,
and the Internal Revenue Service, http://www.irs.gov,
are the primary taxing authorities. If you have employees, you
will need to pay Unemployment Tax (sometimes called unemployment
insurance). Other types of taxes, such as sales tax, may also apply, depending on
the nature of your business.
The best way to find out what taxes
you may need to pay is to complete a search of the Business Wizard.
The resulting checklist will list taxes and other required reports
and the agencies with which you may need to file.
visit the Taxes section of this website
for information on specific types of taxes that may apply to your
business activity, including Personal Property Tax on equipment,
office equipment and more, and the agencies that collect them.
How do I make a business plan?
Check out the section on
Business Plans under the Links section
of this site. You will find links to sample plans and
instructions for creating your own plan. Information is also
available on the Idaho Small Business Development Center's
If you need assistance in preparing your plan,
contact your nearest Idaho Small Business
Development Center, SCORE, Womens Business Center or Small Business Administration office. They are listed under Business
Assistance, Business Plans
on this site. They can help you with the necessary research for your plan and they occasionally offer classes on
writing a business plan.
Who do I talk to about making a financial success of my
Make an appointment with a counselor at the Idaho Small
Business Development Center, the Small Business Administration, Womens
Business Center or SCORE. They are listed under Business
Assistance, Consulting/Counseling on this site
and their services are free. Also talk with your
accountant and your banker to learn about strategies you may
be able to implement.
couldn’t find my business on the Wizard, so I didn’t go through it.
That only means you don’t need a special
license or permit. You still need to go through the Business
Wizard to find out what tax reports and other forms are required for
your business entity type and to learn what you must do if you have employees or independent contractors.
I have an out-of-state business and plan to
do business in Idaho. How can I get information regarding Idaho
Out-of-state businesses may be subject to the same
regulations as businesses located in Idaho. Click on the Business
Wizard button on the menu to the left to obtain a customized
check-list of agencies that may require licenses, permits, and
Also contact the Secretary of State's
office to find out if you need to register your business in Idaho as a foreign
corporation or LLC, the Idaho State Tax Commission
to find out about taxes you may need to pay, and the Idaho Industrial
Commission if you have employees or independent contractors who will
be working in
bank says I need a business tax number or a personal tax number to open a business checking account. What do they mean and how do I
They probably mean the Federal EIN (Employer
Identification Number) or your Social Security Number (SSN). These may
also be called Tax ID Numbers. If you are a Sole Proprietor with no
employees and you don't make retail sales, you may be able to use your SSN (if you do not have a
personal account at that bank for which you are currently using the
number). If you are
unable to use your SSN, you will need to obtain a Federal EIN.
that, in addition to your bank, most government agencies and
corporations with whom you do business will require you to have an EIN
even if you are a sole proprietor with no employees. For security
reasons, they no longer accept Social Security numbers as business
To apply for a Federal EIN, fill
out form SS-4 and submit it to the Internal Revenue Service. The
form and instructions are found at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html. There
is no charge to obtain a number and the process is quick and easy. You can apply by phone, fax, or mail.
Where can I find out about paying overtime?
Visit the U.S. Department of Labor
website at http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages/overtimepay.htm.
For other important information about having employees, click on the Employer Issues button
to the left or visit the
Idaho Department of Labor's website at
What is a Health
Insurance Identification Number and how do I get one?
If your business offers health insurance to employees,
you will need a National Standard Employer
Identification number to report claims electronically.
To learn more about this topic, visit
Your Employer Identification
Number (EIN) serves as your insurance reporting number.
How do I obtain a UPC code for the product I plan to sell?
Visit the website of GS1 US BarCodes and eCom,
formerly known as Universal Packaging Codes, at
I want to change the name of my business. Who do I
To change an assumed business name, you need to
notify the Idaho Secretary of State's Office using the form found at
http://www.sos.idaho.gov/corp/ABNform.htm. To change the
name of a corporation or LLC, contact the Secretary of State's
office for information.
You also need to notify the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS), State Tax Commission, and Idaho Department
of Labor to
be certain your taxes and other reports continue to be processed correctly. You
may also need to obtain a new EIN, Employer Identification
Number. For information, visit http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=148089,00.html.
You will also need to notify any state or
local agency from whom you have obtained a permit or license or
with whom you file reports on a regular basis.
My product is made in the U.S., a rarity today. Do I
need to do something to be able to advertise it as U.S. made?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
regulates advertising that promotes products as made in the U.S.A.
You can find information at
How can I have my product certified as organic or
The Idaho Department of Agriculture certifies
organic farms and food products
grown in Idaho. They also certify organic soil
amendments (fertilizer) made in Idaho. For information, visit
The U. S. Department of Agriculture administers the National
Organic Program for production, handling, and labeling of
agricultural products, including meat, poultry, seafood, and
alcoholic beverages. For information, see
If you want to certify a non-food product, contact
Green Seal at
Energy efficient appliances and products are certified by the U.S. Government's
Energy Star Program. Also check the information about
"Green Certification" found on
the Hot Topics page.
I want to sell my cookies and pies at our farmer's
market but they won't let me unless I have a commercial kitchen.
What is that and how do I make my home kitchen into a commercial
Commercial kitchens are inspected and licensed
by your local health department. Unfortunately, you cannot make
your home kitchen into a commercial one. A commercial kitchen
must be located in a separate area away from your home kitchen
with a separate entrance and locking door
and it cannot be used to prepare your family's meals. It must contain
specific appliances, shelving, stainless steel counter tops, and special sinks,
all of which can be
expensive to implement.
Many churches and senior citizens centers have commercial
kitchens and they may be willing to rent space to you. Also check
with caterers and with restaurants that serve only breakfast and
lunch to see if you can rent space from one of them in the evening. With some
searching, there is a
way to make your business possible.
What is TERO? My company wants to bid on a project
on the Ft. Hall reservation but they say we have to have a TERO
TERO is an acronym for Tribal Employment Registration
Office. To perform work on most reservations your
company must employ Native American workers. You can obtain
information and the necessary form to submit by
contacting the tribal office of any reservation where
you want to work.
The company I
am currently working for wants me to give them a W-9. What is it
and why do I need to do this?
A form W-9 is a "Request for
Taxpayer Identification Number." When a business
pays $600 or more in a calendar year to another business or individual,
is required to file an information tax return with the
IRS. To do so, the business must first obtain the
correct taxpayer identification number to include on the
report. Examples of businesses that require a W-9
include those that issue 1099s (such as to independent
contractors) and those that must report real estate
transactions, contributions to an IRA, cancellation of
debt, and other monetary transactions. See IRS