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Business Licenses, Permits, and Registrations

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One of the first steps in starting or operating a business or nonprofit in Montgomery County is researching what licenses, registrations, and permits may be required for you to operate in the County. In Montgomery County, licenses and permits are issued by different departments and offices depending on the type of business or activity.

Please review the types of businesses and activities on the Business Licenses, Permits, and Registration lists below to see what might apply to your business or nonprofit operation.

Note: Please check each list as your activity might involve both a license and a registration.

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Business Licenses

For-profit and non-profit businesses are required to obtain licenses for various business activities in Montgomery County.

License Description Department
Alcohol and Beverage The sale of alcohol (i.e., restaurants, stores, hotels, catering, beer and wine sampling tasting, wine corkage, outdoor café, extended holiday hours, one day special events, and festivals). Alcohol and Beverage Services
Benefit Performance Events conducted and operated by a bona fide non-profit organization, the net proceeds of which are exclusively for the benefit of the organization, to which the public is invited or admitted. Permitting Services
Bingo Non-profit organizations qualified under specific sections to host bingo events. Health and Human Services
Bodyworks Establishment Businesses that provide acupressure, reflexology or other practices that involve using one's hand to apply pressure on an individual's fully clothed body, or bare feet, to affect the electromagnetic energy, energetic field or energy meridians of the human body. Health and Human Services
Domiciliary Care/Assisted Living Any person, corporation, or entity intending to operate a Domiciliary/Assisted Living Program and any private residence serving as a group home is required to obtain a license. Health and Human Services
Door-to-Door Vendor Any person who travels from dwelling to dwelling or from office to office to sell goods or services. Permitting Services
Elderly Group Home Operating a community residential home providing assistance to 3 to 16 unrelated individuals. Health and Human Services
Electrical Contractors / Electricians Electricians working in Montgomery County. This license is through the Maryland Department of Labor. Read DPS Policy Memo (PDF). MD Dept of Labor
Enterprise (Entertainment) Brick-and-mortar entertainment businesses like amusement parks, theaters, dance halls, for-profit swimming pools, parks, carnivals, circuses, roller skating rinks, miniature golf courses, driving ranges, pitch and putt courses, or pony rings. Health and Human Services
Farm Market/Farmer’s Market License Operating a farmer's market, on-site farm market or roadside farm stand and distributes, sell, samples or otherwise handles unwrapped or hazardous food. Health and Human Services
Fire Prevention and Code Compliance Contractors to perform fire protection systems work in Montgomery County. Licenses include: Corporate and Individual Fire Alarm, Sprinkler, and Fire Extinguisher Technician. Permitting Services
Food Service Facility Restaurants, coffee shops, cafeterias, cafés, luncheonettes, taverns, sandwich stands, soda fountains, retail markets, and food operations in industries/corporate settings. Health and Human Services
Group Home Non-Elderly Operating a group home or residence for 3 to 16 unrelated individuals. Health and Human Services
Hauler and Collector License Anyone collecting or transporting solid waste within the county. The vehicle(s) used to do the work must be registered under the same license. Environmental Protection
Health Care Facilities Hospitals and a wide range of other health care facilities. These businesses are regulated by the Maryland Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Quality and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. MD Dept. of Health
Mobile Food Service Unit Mobile food service units (truck, trailer, or cart where food or drink is prepared, served, or sold). The mobile unit(s) must also pass an inspection. MD Dept. of Health
Pool Operator Acting as a swimming pool operator. Health and Human Services
Private School (Private Education Institution) Any person planning to operate a private education institution in the county for five or more students at one time or if there is more than one instructor. Health and Human Services
Recreational Camps Any person, cooperative, association, partnership, firm or corporation planning to operate a recreational camp with 5 or more campers. Health and Human Services
Regular Route Vendor Any person who sells or offer to sell goods or services along a street on a repeating schedule, stopping only to dispense products (unless otherwise permitted by regulations under Chapter 47 of the Montgomery County Code). Permitting Services
Rental Housing Property owners before a property is advertised for rent or rented. Housing and Community Affairs
Secondhand Personal Property Dealers that sell secondhand personal property. They must also report transactions to police and hold items for a certain period of time. Office of Consumer Protection
Sewage Sludge Utilization Handling and disposing of all septic waste. Permitting Services
Sidewalk Vendor Any person wishing to engage in the business of sidewalk vending. Permitting Services
Site Specific Vendor Any person that sells or offer to sell goods or services from a stationary location. Permitting Services
Special Food Events Mobile, permanent, or temporary structures used to prepare, serve, or sell food or drink for less than 30 days.
Special Events also may have required permits and registrations.
Health and Human Services
Tanning Facility Tanning facilities that have a fee, membership, or other type of compensation. Health and Human Services
Taxicab Any person seeking to drive a taxicab. Transportation
Transient Lodging (Hotels and Bed & Breakfast) Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts
Bed and Breakfasts must also register their Bed and Breakfast
Health and Human Services
Video Game License Any establishment where video games are operated by the public. The owner of any coin or token-operated electronic device using or containing a video image or display is required to obtain a license for each game operated by the public. Health and Human Services

Maryland Business Licenses Online provides public access to business licenses issued by the Circuit Court. Search this licensing system for issued licenses as well as to apply, edit, and renew your Maryland business licenses online.

Business Permits / Certificates

Some business activities require permits in Montgomery County.

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Design Consultation for Businesses with a Physical Location

If you are a business owner in Montgomery County who is ready to secure a commercial space that needs repairs, redesign, or construction, do things the right way the first time by taking advantage of the Department of Permitting Services’ free design consultation. These consultations are to discuss preliminary/schematic design drawings for commercial projects prior to preparation of final construction documents (working drawings, specifications, etc.).

Sign up for a Design Consultation
Permit / Certificate Description Department
Agricultural Producer Any person looking to sell fruits and vegetables as an agricultural producer. Permitting Services
Commercial Building The construction of commercial buildings. Permits include: adding or altering the interior, demolition, installing fences, and many more. Permitting Services
Raffle Permit Non-profit organizations to operate a raffle. Health and Human Services
Major Equestrian Events A competition, exhibition, or other display of equestrian skills. Permitting Services
Parking Convenience Sticker (PCS) Monthly Permit Any person needing to park in paid parking spaces frequently or long term. Transportation
Sidewalk Installation Installing a new sidewalk. Transportation
Swimming Pool Operating Permit Any business planning to operate a swimming pool.

Businesses may also need to register their business.
Health and Human Services
Special Events Activities open to the public and conducted and operated by an organization within Montgomery County (e.g. carnivals, fairs, concerts, festivals, fireworks displays, athletic or recreation tournaments).

If your event serves or sells alcoholic beverages, you will need a One-Day or Festival License.

If your event is open to the general public, you will need a Special Events permit from the Department of Transportation.

If your event will create a lot of noise, you will need to fill out a Temporary Noise Waiver Application.

Special Events also may have required licenses and registrations.
Alcohol & Beverage Services, Environmental Protection, Health and Human Services, Permitting Services, Transportation
Tree Removal Removing a tree(s). Permitting Services
Use & Occupancy Businesses that have physical locations.

Here is a short presentation with more information on Use and Occupancy Certificates (PDF).
Permitting Services

Business Registration

Most businesses operating in Montgomery County must register with the County, the State of Maryland, or both. Check Maryland Business Express for more information and next steps for state-required business registration.

County Registration Required for Department
Bed & Breakfast A detached house that is owner-occupied with no more than 5 guest rooms for rent and customarily serves breakfast to guests.

Bed and Breakfasts must also obtain a Transient Lodging (Hotels and Bed & Breakfast) license.
Health and Human Services
Home Occupation (Home Based Business) Homeowners that operate a home-based business which generates more than five visits per week, or who has a non-resident employee. Permitting Services
Motor Vehicle Repair, Maintenance & Towing Merchants engaged in motor vehicle repair or towing. Office of Consumer Protection
New Home Builder Builders (as defined by Chapter 31C) who construct new homes, condominium units contained within a building of four stories or less, or act in the capacity of a general contractor for such building. Even if a parent company is licensed, subsidiaries who are also builders under the statute may also need a license. Office of Consumer Protection
Parking Lot Commercial property owners wishing to engage in the non-consensual towing of vehicles from their property. Each commercial parking lot must be registered. This does not apply to parking garages. Office of Consumer Protection
Pool Management Company Pool management companies. Health and Human Services
Radio, Television, and Electrical Appliance Installation and Repair Any person, firm, or corporation that engages in the business, occupation, profession, or trade of installing, repairing, or maintaining radio and television equipment or electrical appliances. Office of Consumer Protection
Special Events Any event that involves street closure or impacts county services or entities.

Special Events also may have required licenses and permits.