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Types of Business Licenses

The Comptroller's License Bureau is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the use of business licenses in Maryland. Choose from the links below to determine if you are required to register for any of the following business licenses.
Contact the SLB
Clerks of the Circuit Court

Renewals

In most jurisdictions, including Baltimore City and the City of Annapolis, the Comptroller may request the Liquor Board to hold the renewal of a state liquor license until the account is current with its filing requirements and/or has made satisfactory payment arrangements. The Comptroller may hold renewals for failure to comply with the sales and use, employee withholding, and admissions and amusement tax requirements.

Transfers

The Liquor Boards of the various jurisdictions report all liquor license transfer request to the Comptroller. The Comptroller will place a hold on the transfer of any license where the seller has not complied with the sales and use, employee withholding, and admissions and amusement tax requirements.

A promoter may not allow an exhibitor to participate in a show if the exhibitor has not submitted a photocopy of a valid Trader's License or an Exhibitor's Affidavit (available from any Clerk of the Circuit Court or the State License Bureau) prior to the show.

Unless a show is promoted by one of the exempt entities listed below, an exhibitor DOES NOT need to obtain a trader's license if the show is promoted by:

  • A church as defined in Section 5-301 of the Corporations and Associations Article;
  • Any government agency or unit;
  • An amateur radio organization;
  • An antique vehicle, machine and equipment organization;
  • A volunteer fire department or rescue squad;
  • A model train collectors' association;
AND has not participated in more than three shows during the previous 365 days.

An exhibitor who has a valid Trader's License for a fixed place of business in Maryland does not have to obtain another Trader's License provided the exhibitor presents a photocopy of the license to the promoter prior to the show.

The photocopy of a Trader's License or an Exhibitor's Affidavit must be conspicuously displayed during the show.

Within seven days after the conclusion of the show, a promoter must forward all Exhibitor Affidavits to the Comptroller of Maryland, State License Bureau, P.O. 2397, Annapolis, MD 21404-2397.

If an exhibitor does not meet the requirements outlined above, the procedure for handling temporary licenses is still in effect.

A promoter or exhibitor who fails to comply as required by law shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, may be fined up to $100.00 or imprisoned for up to 30 days. The legal requirement for the Exhibitor's Affidavit can be found in the Business Regulation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 17-1804.

Unless you are a grower or manufacturer, you may not offer for sale, sell or otherwise dispose of any goods within Maryland, without first obtaining a trader's license from the Clerk of the Circuit Court and opening a sales tax account. Business entities must register and qualify with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

A private individual may conduct a public sale of personal effects on his or her own property without a trader's license, provided that no more than one sale is conducted for a period not to exceed 14 consecutive days in any one calendar year.

The license year runs from May 1st through the following April 30th.

The legal requirement for the trader's license can be found in the Business Regulation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Section 17-1804.

Fees and Penalties

A penalty of 10 percent for the first month of delinquency and 2 percent per month for each additional month of delinquency is added to the cost of a trader's license for all persons or business organizations that fail or neglect to procure a license within the time prescribed by law.

By law, the Clerk of the Circuit Court cannot issue a trader's license if the applicant owes personal property taxes to a local government, or if the applicant has not submitted up-to-date filing with the Department of Assessments and Taxation.

Sales Not Requiring a Trader's License

When you display and sell goods at a show, you are not required to obtain a trader's license if:

  1. The show is promoted by:
    • A church as defined in Section 5-301 of the Corporations and Associations Article;
    • Any government agency or unit;
    • An amateur radio organization;
    • An antique vehicle, machine and equipment organization;
    • A volunteer fire department or rescue squad;
    • A model train collectors' association; or
  2. If the exhibitor gives to the promoter an Exhibitor's Affidavit stating that the exhibitor:
    • Gets less than 10% of annual income from selling like goods at the show; and
    • Has not participated in more than three shows during the previous 365 days; or,
  3. If the exhibitor at an antique show, coin show, or collector show gives to the promoter an Exhibitor's Affidavit stating that the exhibitor:
    • will display and sell at the show;
    • receives less than 10% of the exhibitor's annual income in the state from selling the kind of goods that the exhibitor will display and sell at the show; and
    • has not participated in more than 3 antique shows, coin shows or collector shows in the state during the previous 365 days.
An exhibitor who has a valid Trader's License for a fixed place of business in Maryland does not have to obtain another Trader's License provided the exhibitor presents a photocopy of the license to the promoter prior to the show.

Effective June 1, 2011, the Maryland General Assembly mandated that the Comptroller's Office assume oversight responsibility of the slot machine program for certain organizations on the Eastern Shore's nine (9) counties. The Comptroller's Office is also tasked with receiving and reviewing the Annual Reports submitted by the organizations. This review is to ensure the proper disbursement of 50% of the net proceeds from the slot machines to qualifying charities, as required by law.

Slot Machine License Application Form

Annual Report Form

If you operate two or more retail stores under the same general management or ownership in Maryland, you must have a chain store license. However, the term "store" does not include an automobile service station where the principal business is the sale or distribution of motor fuel.

When you apply for the chain store license, you must pay a fee to the appropriate Clerk of the Circuit Court in addition to the fee paid for a trader's license.

The legal requirement for the Chain Store License can be found in the Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Sections 17-1805 and 17-1809.

Chain Store License Fees

The fees listed below are in addition to the fee paid for a trader's license.

The license year runs from May 1st through the following April 30th.

All counties except Cecil and Baltimore City

  • $5 for each store for 2 to 5 stores;
  • $20 for each store for 6 to 10 stores;
  • $100 for each store for 11 to 20 stores; or
  • $150 for each store for more than 20 stores.
Baltimore City
  • $12 for each store for 2 to 5 stores;
  • $50 for each store for 6 to 10 stores;
  • $250 for each store for 11 to 20 stores; or
  • $375 for each store for more than 20 stores.
Cecil County
  • $10 for each store for 2 to 5 stores;
  • $30 for each store for 6 to 10 stores;
  • $100 for each store for 11 to 20 stores; or
  • $300 for each store for more than 20 stores.

Any business entity that buys, sells or barters for scrap metal or junk, whether or not at a fixed location, will be required to obtain a scrap metal processor or junk dealer license and comply with all reporting requirements. Any individual who buys, sells or barters for scrap metal or junk on behalf of a scrap metal processor or junk dealer, who are not salaried employees of said business, will be required to obtain an agent license. Those persons who are salaried employees of a scrap metal processor or junk dealer are not required to be licensed.

The scrap metal processor/junk dealer and agent licenses are available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the business is located, to include Baltimore City. Some jurisdictions may require prior zoning approval and certain counties may allow on-line application.

License Fees

Scrap Metal Processor/Junk Dealer License - $10.00

Agent License - $5.00

There will be a $2.00 issuing fee for each license.

A peddler or hawker who sells goods while traveling from place to place by foot or vehicle must obtain a peddler's license from the appropriate Clerk of the Circuit Court in order to sell or offer to sell any goods in Maryland.

A peddler's license is not required for:

  • The sale of fish or oysters in their natural and unpreserved condition, or
  • The sale of perishable fruits or vegetables in their natural condition, or
  • Licensed merchants or traders in Allegany County who have maintained regular places of business for at least five years.
There are other local laws and statutory exemptions in the State Peddler's License Law that affect peddlers and hawkers. For more information, contact the State License Bureau or the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where your business will be conducted.

The legal requirement for the peddler's license can be found in the Business Regulation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Title 17, Subtitle 9.

Every person who sells or offers goods for sale through a vending machine in the state of Maryland must obtain a vending machine license from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the machines are located. The license fee is $2.50 for each vending machine.

A vending machine license is not required if the following items are offered for sale:

  • Cigarettes - Special laws govern the sale of cigarettes through a vending machine. For more information, contact the State License Bureau or the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which the vending machine will be located.
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Paper cups
  • Paper or cloth towels
  • Postage stamps
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Soap
  • Toilet seat covers
The license year is from May 1 through April 30.

The legal requirements for the vending machine license can be found in Title 17, Subtitle 19 of the Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland.

If a transient vendor sells or offers to sell goods in Maryland without stating and charging the sales and use tax separately from the sale price, the transient vendor license is void and shall be seized and returned to the Comptroller's Office.

A stop sale order may also be issued to the vendor. Penalties for non-compliance include misdemeanor charges and a $500 fine upon conviction. Finally, the Comptroller's Office may seize goods offered for sale. The goods will be returned only if the owner can demonstrate that the owner is properly registered for all state taxes and has paid applicable taxes.

If you see a vendor who is not displaying a transient vendor license as required, report the situation to any local law enforcement agency or the Field Enforcement Division. Contact the Field Enforcement Division at 410-260-7388 from Central Maryland or toll-free 1-888-674-0017 from elsewhere in Maryland, Monday ‐ Friday, 8:00 a.m. ‐ 4:30 p.m.

If an applicant for a retail license has already acquired a Cigarette or OTP retail license, the applicant is not required to apply for a retail license.

A Retailer license authorizes the licensee to sell to consumers; buy from a Wholesaler Distributor or Wholesaler Importer; if the licensee also holds a license to act as a manufacturer, sell at retail manufactured under the Manufacturer license; and except where otherwise prohibited by local law or specified State law, distribute sample products to consumers in the State.

  • A licensed retailer is authorized to ship, sell, or cause to be shipped to a consumer who purchases or orders a smoking device through the mail, a computer network, a telephonic network, or another electronic network.

A Vape Shop Vendor license authorizes the licensee to sell as a Vape Shop Vendor; buy from a manufacturer; if the licensee also holds a license to act as a Manufacturer, sell at retail manufactured under the Manufacturer license; and purchase products directly from a wholesaler distributor or wholesaler importer.

  • In order to apply for a Vape Shop Vendor license the applicant must derive at least 70% of their revenues (measured by average daily receipts) from the sale of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and related accessories.

The licenses are available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the business is located, to include Baltimore City. The licenses go into effect October 1st, 2019.

 

FAQ’s Electronic Smoking Devices – Retailer and Vape Shop Vendor License

Under the Maryland Home Builder Registration Act any person or business that builds new homes or enters into contracts to sell new homes must be registered with the Home Builder Registration Unit of the Maryland Attorney General's Office. For more information contact the Registration Unit at 410-576-6573.

Any person or business organization must obtain a construction license from the appropriate Clerk of the Circuit Court on an annual basis if the person or oraganization agrees to do any of the following:

  • Perform work on or in any building or structure, requiring the use of paint, stone, brick, mortar, wood, cement, structural iron or steel, sheet iron, galvanized iron, metallic piping, tin, lead, electric wiring or other metal, or any other building material.
  • Perform any paving or curbing on sidewalks or streets, public or private property.
  • Excavate earth, rock or other material for foundations or any other purpose.

Maryland Home Improvement Law

If you hold a license under the Maryland Home Improvement Law you are not required to hold a construction license issued by the Clerk of the Court. A Home Improvement License is required if you perform any home improvement work in Maryland.

The legal requirement for a construction license can be found in the Business Regulation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, Sections 17-601 through 17-603. The legal requirement for a Home Improvement License can be found in the Business Regulation Article, Sections 8-100 through 8-702.

Construction License Information Legislation and Associations

Construction Licensing Fees

The license year runs from May 1st through the following April 30th.

  • $30 for a license in Cecil County,
  • $40 for a license in Baltimore City and
  • $15 for a license in all other counties
  • $50 for out-of-state construction companies

If you keep a storage warehouse in Maryland where goods are stored for a fee, you must obtain a storage warehouse license from the appropriate Clerk of the Circuit Court.

The legal requirement for the Storage Warehouse License can be found in the Business Regulation Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, Sections 17-1202 and 17-1203.

Storage Warehouse License Fees

The license year runs from May 1st through the following April 30th.

  • $30 for a storage warehouse in a municipal corporation with a population of not more than 10,000;
  • $50 for a storage warehouse in a municipal corporation with a population of 10,001 to 20,000;
  • $75 for a storage warehouse in a municipal corporation with a population of 20,001 to 50,000; or
  • $150 for a storage warehouse in a municipal corporation with a population of more than 50,000.

Effective October 1st, 2018. A person must have a micro market license to operate one or more micro markets in the State.

The owner or operator of a micro market may not be required to have a person in charge present during the market's hours of operation if the micro market meets the following requirements –

  • Food sold at a micro market must (1) be commercially prepackaged food or ready-to-eat food; (2) be prepackaged in tamper-evident packaging; and (3) contain specified nutritional and related information on the packaging label that complies with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; a freshness or expiration date; and any other information required under the Maryland Health Code as required by the Maryland Department of Health.
  • Refrigerated or frozen food sold at a micro market must be stored and displayed in a refrigerator, refrigerated cooler, or freezer that meets specified requirements, including self-closing doors and an automated self-locking feature and the specifications as defined by the Micro Market law found below.
  • The owner or operator of a micro market must post a sign that is clearly visible to the consumer near the micro market entryway or while using the electronic payment device that includes specified contact information for the owner or operator.
  • The owner or operator of a micro market may secure the product and premises of a micro market using 24-7 surveillance that record at sufficient resolution to identify consumers using the micro market. The video recording must be maintained by the owner for 14 days and must be made available for inspection upon the request of the Comptroller, another regulatory agency, or law enforcement agency within 24 hours.
  • A copy of the license, once produced by the Clerk, must be hung in each Micro Market location.

Comptroller's Micro Market Information Form

An applicant must provide the Clerk of the Circuit Court a $50 fee and a form required by the Comptroller that includes the address of each micro market to be operated by the applicant. Failure to obtain a Micro market license may result in criminal penalties or a fine not to exceed $5,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both.

All required information must be completed before issuance of the business license can occur. The Control Number will be provided by the Clerk of the Circuit Court when the applicant applies for the business license. The CR Number will be provided to the applicant after registering with the Comptroller's Office. If you register online, you will receive a confirmation number. This confirmation number is not the CR number. The CR number will be mailed out several business days after registration.

Call 410-260-6240 from central Maryland or toll-free 1-866-239-9359, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Send e-mail inquiries to slb@marylandtaxes.gov

Send correspondence to:

State License Bureau
LLG Treasury Building
80 Calvert Street, Room 314
Annapolis, Maryland 21404-1751