How do I start a business in Oklahoma?

Here are the basics that apply to almost all new business start-ups:

  1. Determine your business structure. 
    For more information: Business Structure Matrix.
  2. Determine if you need a Federal Employer Identification Number. For more information click here.
  3. Get a Federal Employer Identification Number from the IRS at www.irs.gov or 800-829-4933.
  4. Register your business with the appropriate state agencies. For assistance determining which applications, permits, licenses, or registrations are required, use the Business Registration & Licensing System.
  5. For information direct from the primary agencies of registration you may also want to visit:
    1. The Secretary of State - This includes checking name availability and reserving your trade name
    2. The Oklahoma Tax Commission - Download this Oklahoma Business Registration Packet.
    3. Oklahoma Employment Security Commission - This applies only if you have employees.
  6. Inform yourself! Read and take advantage of all the additional resources available to you on this site and others for how to successfully start and run a business. Start with the additional FAQs below. Can't find what you're looking for? Contact the Commerce 2nd Century Entrepreneurship Center at 800-879-6552 or email us at info@okcommerce.gov.

More Start-Up Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing and Registration

Business Financing

Business Certification

Business Resources

Q: Is a small business required to have a license (occupational) to sell products or services solely over the Internet?   top

A: Currently, no state license is required to sell over the Internet. However, occupational licenses or other regulatory actions are based on what you sell, not how you sell it.

For example, no occupational license is needed to sell clothing or household cleaning supplies over the Internet (although a Sales Tax Permit may be required). However, regardless of whether they are sold over the Internet, an occupational auto dealer's license is required to sell new and used cars to the public.

Q: Do I need a license to open a business in Oklahoma?   top

A: There is no general license or permit to own and operate a business in Oklahoma. Many businesses, business owners and/or employees, such as beauty salons and restaurants, require specific licenses and permits to operate in the state. Using the beauty salon example, the business does not require a license, but the beauty operators do need a license. You may also need to register your business with the Secretary of State or Oklahoma Tax Commission

To find out what licenses, permits, and registrations pertain to your business, select your specific business type from the menu in our Business Registration & Licensing System. This online tool provides helpful information for license, permit, and registration requirements for the state of Oklahoma. After selecting your business type from the list, complete the short form. After submitting the form, you will see a list of the required licenses, permits, and registrations for your type of business and links, where available, to forms or additional resources.

Q: I'm starting a construction company. Do I need a license?   top

A: This business activity is considered in the general category of a General Contractor, for which there is no specific state license. Out-of-state contractors must contact the Oklahoma Tax Commission at 405-521-3279 to register and pay a bond (if working on commercial properties). They must also contact the county clerk where the work is located and register the start and end dates for the project.

Q: Where do I get a sales tax permit?   top

A: A sales tax permit is needed if you are selling tangible personal property for monetary or other consideration on an ongoing basis. You can obtain a sales tax permit from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, 405-521-3160.

Q: Where do I get a reseller permit?   top

A: A sales tax permit is the license under which a retail business owner may purchase goods for resale and charge sales tax from the sale. This may be obtained from the Oklahoma Tax Commission (OTC) by completing an Application for Sales Tax Permit. The application is available for download online in the OTC's Oklahoma Business Registration Packet A. If you mail your registration, you can expect about a 60-day turnaround to receive your permit. However, the OTC has four, one-stop shop locations strategically located throughout the state where you can often get same-day or same-week turnaround.

You may visit one of the OTC Assistance Centers at the following locations:

Q: Do I need to register my business trade name with anyone?   top

A: It is not required to register a trade name. However, you may want to check the Oklahoma Secretary of State website Business Services section to determine name availability. Once you determine name availability, you can register the name with the State using the Trade Name Report.

Q: Where do I file a DBA (Doing Business As)?   top

A: A DBA is called a Trade Name Report and is filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State, 405-521-3911.

Q: Do I need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number?   top

A: In short, the answer is yes. That number is a unique number used to identify your business. You'll need it when registering your business with state or federal agencies. You must have an EIN if you sell goods and/or have employees. Occasionally, some sole proprietors choose to use their social security number (SSN) in lieu of an EIN; however, in today's world where identify theft is a very real threat, it's a safer bet to protect your SSN and use an EIN, even if you're a sole proprietor.

Follow these simple steps to receive your FEIN fast:

  1. Apply online by visiting the IRS site at www.irs.gov, or
  2. Call and apply by phone. Call the IRS at 800-829-4933.
  3. The IRS will only issue an EIN over the phone or online to those duly qualified as listed above.
  4. Write the number you are issued and keep it in a safe place.
  5. If you would prefer to file for your FEIN by mail, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov and download the Form SS-4. Complete, sign and date the form and mail to the address shown on the form.

Q: How can I finance my new business?   top

A: Assistance from personal resources, such as family and friends, followed by traditional financing through a local lending institution where you have an established relationship are the most common methods for funding your start-up business. Some businesses may qualify for assistance in the form of loan guarantees from the Small Business Administration (SBA). In fact, most financial institutions will require an SBA guarantee. Some banks have departments that specialize in SBA lending. An SBA Prequalification Intermediary can help you to prepare your application for a loan. To find the intermediary closest to you, contact the SBA district office in Oklahoma City at 405-231-5521. Visit our Business Financing section for additional financial resources.

It is possible non-profit organizations could find some financing assistance through federal or foundation grants. Any reputable lender and many grant administrators will expect to see a thorough business plan.

Q: I've heard there is grant money available to help fund my for-profit start-up business. Where can I find those grants?   top

A: Typically, grant money is only available to assist non-profit organizations. If your business is non-profit, you will want to start with the www.grants.gov and Foundation Center websites. However, the availability of grant funds for for-profit businesses is extremely limited and typically highly specialized. We have found no consistent, reliable source for small businesses either public or private. We don't want to discourage you from searching for such funding, but the Oklahoma Department of Commerce is not aware of for-profit grant funding.

Q: Who can provide assistance for writing a business plan?   top

A: You can get one-to-one assistance through one of the many Oklahoma Small Business Development Centers located throughout Oklahoma. To find the closest center to you, call 800-522-6154 or visit the OSBDC website. You may also find business plan help through one of Oklahoma's Career Technology Centers. Visit the CareerTech website to learn more about the help available or call 800-522-6154. If you prefer to go online to get help, visit the Small Business Administration Business Plan Basics website. To download a Business Plan guide, which walks you through every step of developing a business plan, click below to select the English version or the Spanish version.

Q: How do I get certified as a minority-owned business?   top

A: There are several organizations that certify minority-owned businesses; each is different in its emphasis, depending on your target market. For instance, there are certification programs if you want to compete only in the private sector or for federal contracts. Certification as a minority-owned business can be an asset in competing for contracts and in procurement needs. For more information, visit our Minority-Owned Business page.

Q: How do I get certified as a woman-owned business?   top

A: Like minority business owners, women-owned businesses have several advantages when competing for contracting opportunities in Oklahoma. To qualify for Oklahoma Department of Commerce certification as a woman-owned business, a business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled on a day-to-day basis by one or more women.

To apply for certification, download and complete the application below:

For more information on the certification program and additional resources, visit our Women-Owned Business page.

Q: I need assistance in exporting. Does Commerce provide help in this area?   top

A: Yes. The Commerce Global Business Services team provides comprehensive assistance to businesses wishing to develop their global markets. Global Business Solutions, working closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce, offers workshops, information and one-to-one consulting to help businesses with exporting needs. This group provides assistance in customs, foreign permits, financing, and market analysis as well as hosts foreign trade missions and sponsors global catalog trade shows. To learn more, visit the Export Assistance section of our website or contact the Global Business Solutions team at 800-879-6552.

Q: I have certain questions about developing and operating a small business. What resources are available?   top

A: There are dozens of resources available to help you with your start-up business. Here are few:

Q: How do I register an existing, out of state business to conduct business in Oklahoma?   top

A: To conduct business in the state of Oklahoma when you are already established in another state requires the following steps:

  1. Register your business with the appropriate state agencies. For assistance determining what applications, permits and licenses required use the Business Permits & Licensing System.
  2. For information direct from the primary agencies of registration to conduct business in Oklahoma you may also want to visit:
    1. The Secretary of State - This includes checking name availability and protecting your trade name
    2. The Oklahoma Tax Commission - Download this Oklahoma Business Registration Packet.
    3. Oklahoma Employment Security Commission - This applies only if you have employees.