Start a Business in KCMO

A Guide for Registering, Permitting and Licensing your Business in Kansas City, Missouri

What do you need to get started?

Get a customized list of steps to start your business in KCMO.

In order to obtain a business license with the City of Kansas City, you will need to meet the initial requirements and collect one or more of the following documents:

Choose a name for your business
Decide on your business structure
Register your business with the Missouri Secretary of State
Apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN, EIN)
Obtain a Missouri Sales Tax and/or Withholdings Tax (Employees)
Request a Zoning Clearance Letter
Apply for required City Permits and Registrations

Once you have acquired the required documents for your business, you can apply for a business license and set up your taxes with the City of Kansas City.

Your business registration guide and checklist is intended to serve as a reference document and in no way attempts to provide all of the information necessary to start a business in the City of Kansas City, Mo. The advice of an attorney and/or accountant should be sought before conducting any business activity.

Getting Started

How do you know if your idea is a good business opportunity? If people are willing to buy it. Before you bet the ranch on your idea, take the time to research who will buy your product or service and what competition you will face.

Local Resources and Programs

  • Urban Business Growth Initiative (UBGI)- Check out local programs to help your get a business plan in place. Scholarships are available for KCMO based businesses and residents.
  • Other small business organizations and programs can be found on our "Community Resources" page Powered by KC Sourcelink Resource Navigator
  • A business plan is a vital planning tool and operating guide that can help convince leaders and investors, including banks, to take risk and fund your idea. Check out this sample business plan from KC Sourcelink.

Choose a Name for your Business

You'll need to choose a business structure before you register your business with the state.


Decide on your Business Structure

The business structure you choose influences everything from day-to-day operations, to taxes, to how much of your personal assets are at risk. While you may change to a different business structure in the future, there may be restrictions based on your location. This could also result in tax consequences and unintended dissolution, among other complications.

Business Structure Categories

  • Sole-Proprietor (or Independent Contractor)

    These firms are owned by one person, usually the individual who has day-to-day responsibility for running the business. If you’re a Sole-Proprietor and you don’t want to operate under your legal name- you will need to register a Fictitious Name with the Missouri Secretary of State. Missouri law requires any person or business entity which transacts business in the state under a name other than their own "true name" to register that business name with the Secretary of State’s Office as a Fictitious Name Registration.

  • Incorporation

    Many business owners choose to incorporate with the intention of limiting personal risk as the owner. In addition to filing the application with the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office, several minimum requirements must be met:

    • Missouri Operating Agreement- this document lists the functional and financial details of the company. This includes ownership, listing people who can bind the company in a contract and naming an agent or manager who can manage operations if the owner is unable to run the business. Resource: Attorney/Legal
    • Business Bank Account/ Vehicle Titles– separation of personal and business assets. The owner/s of the company must keep personal and business assets separate. This can include establishing commercial bank and credit cards accounts for the business and titling company vehicles in the name of the incorporated business. Resource: Financial Institution/Accountant
    • Insurance for Your Business- getting the right kind of insurance for your business is essential; determine how much insurance and what kind your business will foreseeably need. Resource: Commercial Insurance Providers
Business Structure Ownership Liability Taxes
Sole proprietorship One person Unlimited personal liability Personal tax only
Partnerships Two or more people Unlimited personal liability unless structured as a limited partnership Self-employment tax (except for limited partners)
Personal tax
Limited liability company (LLC) One or more people Owners are not personally liable Self-employment tax
Personal tax or corporate tax
Corporation - C corp One or more people Owners are not personally liable Corporate tax
Corporation - S corp One or more people Owners are not personally liable Personal tax
Corporation - B corp One or more people Owners are not personally liable Corporate tax
Corporation - Nonprofit One or more people Owners are not personally liable Tax-exempt, but corporate profits can't be distributed

Apply for a Federal Identification Number (EIN)

Apply for a Federal Identification Number (aka FEIN, EIN, TIN, FID) if you aren’t planning to use your social security number. A federal tax ID or taxpayer ID is a number used to identify individuals, businesses, and other legal entities for tax purposes pursuant to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and specific tax laws that affect different types of legal entities.

The most common type of tax ID is a Social Security Number (SSN), followed by what’s called an Employer Identification Number or EIN. If you’re planning to start a business, the latter of these two types of federal tax IDs will be relevant to you and your business.


Apply for a Missouri Sales Tax (aka Resellers License)

Required of all retail, food and businesses with employees in Missouri. A business must obtain a sales tax license by registering with the Department of Revenue if it’s making sales of tangible personal property and taxable services (such as telephone service and fees paid into places of amusement including but not limited to yoga and fitness centers).

  • A business should also register with the department if it is a corporation responsible for filing and paying corporate and/or franchise tax or if it has employees and is required to remit withholding tax. Also, a business selling batteries and/or new tires should register to collect and remit a fee to the department.
  • Separate licenses for businesses wanting to operate as a motor fuel supplier, permissive supplier, distributor, terminal operator or transporter, and for businesses wanting to operate as a cigarette or other tobacco products wholesaler are required.
  • After you have completed your online registration, you will receive a confirmation number and additional information about your registration. Please maintain the confirmation number for your records. Allow 2-3 business days for processing.
  • A MO Tax ID is a requirement prior to the issuance of a business license for all food establishments and/or retail related businesses (selling of a tangible item).
  • Applying for a Missouri Sales Tax is FREE

Request a Zoning Clearance Letter

Required for all new and existing businesses, weather home base or commercial location, and is a requirement prior to the issuance of a business license. If your Kansas City Missouri business address has changed, you will need to request a zoning clearance for the new location and update your business license. Zoning Clearance request are FREE.

A Zoning Clearance is the procedure used by the City to verify that a proposed land use or structure is allowed in the applicable zoning district, and that the project complies with the development standards of this Zoning Code that apply to the use, consistent with the General Plan.

Check the zoning of any building you plan before you lease or purchase to ensure it is properly zoned for your business.


Apply for Required City Permits and Registrations

Additional paperwork and/or requirements may be required depending on the type of business activity.

  • A Health Permit is required for all food industries. (Health Dept.)
  • A Food Permit is required for all Mobile Units, Catering, Farmers Markets and Similar Vendors (Health Dept.)
  • Food Handler Training and a Food Handler Permit are required for anyone that works directly with the preparation or cooking of food; A manager or supervisor of those preparing or cooking food. (Health Dept.)
  • Rental and Vacant Property Registration is required for all residential rental properties (Health Dept.)
  • A Liquor License is required for all establishments selling or serving liquor in Kansas City, Missouri and include (Regulated Industries):
    • Alcohol-related businesses such as taverns, package beverage stores, wholesalers, beer, wine, and liquor manufacturers, and catered/non-profit events with alcohol being served;
    • "Adult entertainment" businesses such as strip clubs, retail businesses selling pornographic or adult-oriented items, and the employees thereof;
    • Vehicle-for-hire drivers and companies such as taxi cab, sightseeing and livery companies.
    • Junkyards, metal recyclers and waste tire haulers;
    • Day labor and short-term loan facilities;
    • Dance halls, haunted houses, skating rinks, billiard halls, carnivals and other places of amusement or entertainment as specified by ordinance.
  • A Contractor License for certain construction-related trades work in the city requires that contractors hold one or more licenses.
  • A Workers Compensation Certificate of Insurance is required for construction companies with 5 or more employees. (Commercial Insurance Provider)
  • A KCMO Police Clearance is required for all security guard services and private investigator businesses.)
  • A Permit for Animal Related Businesses is required for hobby kennels, hobby catteries, rescue kennels, pet shops, boarding stables, boarding kennels. (KC Pet Project)

Apply for a Kansas City, Missouri Business License

Required for all businesses operating in Kansas City, Missouri. All persons (sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations) who conduct business in Kansas City, Mo., must obtain a business license for that activity. A license is valid for the calendar year in which it is issued. Business licenses expire on December 31 of each year.

Setting up your Business Taxes

Businesses operating in Kansas City, Mo., are subject to a number of tax obligations and other requirements at the city, county, state and federal levels. By knowing beforehand which tax obligations and other governmental requirements are necessary for your business to operate, you can plan in advance to assure that your business meets these obligations.

The KCMO Department of Revenue has developed Tax Guides for specific industries.

City Tax Regulations

  • The Revenue Division administers several taxes and licenses, including:

    • Earnings Tax (for individuals and businesses)
    • Business License
    • Arena Fee (for hotels/motels and rental car businesses)
    • Convention and Tourism Tax (food service and hotels/motels)
    • Special Assessments
    • Utility Taxes and Cable Franchise Fees

    Taxpayers should file returns in accordance with the schedule for each tax type.

Hiring Employees

When you hire employees, you are responsible for complying with city, county, state and federal requirements. You will also need to register with the Missouri Division of Employment Security or for unemployment tax purposes. For a deep dive on what to do if you are employing people, read the State of Missouri Employer’s Tax Guide.

Business Location

If you are building an addition, constructing a new building, renovating or remodeling an existing building or tenant space, a building permit will be required for your project. In some cases, rezoning may be required depending on whether the use intended is allowed in the zoning district in which your project is located.

The City Planning and Development Department’s Development Services Division also issues permits for public improvements including sidewalks, driveways, storm and sanitary sewer construction and connections and site disturbance.

What do you need to get started?

Get a customized list of steps to start your business in KCMO.