New Business Frequently Asked Questions

Oakland County does not require a business license. Not every business in Michigan is required to be licensed by the State of Michigan. Licensing is managed by the State of Michigan. To find out if your new venture requires a state license or permit, use the data search feature State License Search. Check with the city or township that your business is located in to find out if a local business license is required.

If you choose to operate under a name different than your own, you will most likely have to file a fictitious name (also known as an assumed name, trade name, or DBA “doing business as” name).

Sole proprietorships and co-partnerships can file their names with the Oakland County Clerk’s Office, and/or in any county in which they transact business or have an office. If you’re starting a Corporation, LLC, or Limited Partnership, your official business name will be automatically registered when you file your Articles of Incorporation, Articles of Organization, or Statement of Limited Partnership with the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

A DBA “Doing Business As”, also known as a fictitious name, assumed name, or trade name is the name under which you do business. Business name searches and registration for Assumed Names and Co-Partnerships are available through the Oakland County Clerk’s Office. The current cost for an assumed name certificate is $10.

A Corporation is an association of persons, created by law and existing as an entity with powers and liabilities independent of those of its members.

Articles of Incorporation are filed with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Telephone Services: Information about specific entities, check for name availability and annual report questions or officers and directors is available at 517-241-6470, Monday-Friday from 8 am – 5 pm EST. Copies of documents, certificates of good standing or other certificates may be ordered at the same number.

Do I need an EIN? An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN), and is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. You may apply for an EIN in various ways, and now you may apply online.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) criteria states that in order to be certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), a business must be at least 51% controlled and managed by racial or ethnic minorities who are also U.S. Citizens.

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification is the process by which a business is verified as being minority owned according to the criteria set forth by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). The NMSDC’s criteria state that in order to be certified as an MBE, a business must be at least 51% controlled and managed by racial or ethnic minorities who are also U.S. Citizens.

The Women’s Business Enterprise Council – Great Lakes (WBEC – GL) serves as a partner with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) to assist women business owners with opportunities for women’s business certification and access to private and government markets. For information on becoming a certified woman owned business, contact The Michigan Women’s Marketplace (MWM).

Zoning information comes from the city, village or township where your business is located.

Contact the community where the business will be located and see if the zoning laws permit it.  Starting a business at home is the same as starting a business anywhere.

The Oakland Chamber Network is one outside resource to find Oakland County Chambers of Commerce. The site serves as a gateway to 27 Oakland County Chambers; and lists events and resources related to the 27 member chambers.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a business formed by an organizer who may, but need not be a member. It is a business entity separate from its members and liability is limited to the financial contribution made by the member. The members are the owners of the company. The management of the company is carried out by its members, unless the Articles of Organization provide for management by managers. Governance is set forth by the Articles of Organization or operating agreement. A limited liability company is formed by filing the Articles of Organization with the Licensing Bureau.

All new businesses that have Michigan employees must register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Michigan Department of Treasury for Social Security Tax (federal) and income tax withholding (federal and state). Some cities also levy a city income tax. Contact the City Treasurer’s office for information. The Michigan Department of Treasury offers an Online New Business Registration process. This process is easy, fast, secure, and convenient. This e-Registration process is much faster than registering by mail. After completing this on-line application, you will receive a confirmation number of your electronic submission. You can receive your new Sales Tax License in as little as 7 business days! Employers who are acquiring/purchasing a business may also register on-line.

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