Business licenses are public records that can sometimes be accessed for free online. A business must register with the state in which the business is located in order to obtain a legal business license.
Differences by State
State governments hold business license records. The department that keeps these records varies in each state, although these records are often held by the secretary of state's office. Businesses are also licensed at the county and city level in some states, so there may be multiple business license records for a single business.
Requesting Business License Records
Business license records may be accessed online for businesses in some states, but in others, these records must be requested in person or in writing with the state office holding the business license.
Additional Public Information
States that provide online searches of business licenses may include additional information about the business in the search, such as whether the business has a complaint or violation recorded against it.