The Importance of Knowing Exactly Where Your Business is Located

When filing for a business license, it is important to know precisely the jurisdiction in which your business will operate. It might seem straightforward, but there are a slew of factors that may change which licenses you will need to obtain in order to run your business legally. Complex classifications such as whether your area is considered “dependent” or “independent”, whether or not it is divided into smaller neighborhoods or CDPs (census designated places), and whether your area is considered ”incorporated” or “unincorporated” are just a few of the factors that can make starting a business a complicated endeavor. To make matters worse, these classifications are almost never reflected in an address as it appears on paper. However, identifying the specific categorization of your area is a necessary task and will ultimately determine which business licenses you will need to procure.


Depending on your state, your area is most likely classified as either dependent or independent. Dependent areas are considered to be a part of the county in which they are located and are therefore subject to the county’s code. If your business is in a dependent area, you may need to file for both the local and county business license. Independent areas, on the other hand, do not form parts of larger government entities. Baltimore, Maryland is an example of an independent city because it is not considered to be a part of any county in Maryland and therefore is not subject to county ordinances. Knowing whether your area is classified dependent or independent will save you time and ensure that you are properly licensed in each required level of jurisdiction.

Many large cities are divided into smaller census designated places, or CDPs. A CDP is a concentration of population identified by the US Census Bureau for statistical purposes. CDPs may appear to be independent towns or villages; however, they do not have their own municipal governments and are typically subject to the ordinances of the larger areas of which they are a part. Hershey, Pennsylvania is an example of a CDP because, although it appears to be an independent city with its own borders and population, it is in fact a part of Derry Township, Pennsylvania and so is subject to Derry’s municipal code. It is important to know if your business is located in a CDP, as this can affect tax reporting and will dictate which area’s business license you will be required to obtain.

It is very possible that your business is located in an area that is outside of local municipal government altogether. Such areas are considered unincorporated. A business in an unincorporated area may not need to obtain a local business license, but might still need to obtain a county and state license.

Identifying the classifications of your location

To determine the classifications of your specific location, use a national database such as the US Census Bureau or check with the local governments in your area.

Be aware that obtaining the correct business licenses for your location might not cover all of your bases. If you ship products or render services to clients in other areas, you may also need to obtain business licenses for those areas. Failure to obtain a license in any required jurisdiction could lead to penalties, heavy fines, and/or cease-and-desist letters.

How we help your business:

1. We will research the basic business license requirements for any jurisdictions in which you do business, and determine which licenses are required.

2. We file all of your basic business license applications correctly and efficiently.

3. Once your license has been issued, we ensure that you remain compliant with all licensing laws.

Let the experts at LicenseLogix save you the time and frustration of obtaining multiple business licenses. Live chat with our license professionals or call 1-800-292-0909 today.