How to start a business in Lexington

If you plan to start a business in Lexington, the first step is to register for a business permit, also known as an occupational license. Completing the following steps will help you meet local, state, and federal requirements.

1. Check your business name and register with the state

Most businesses must be incorporated with the state before registering with the City of Lexington. (If you’re a sole proprietor, this step is optional. You can skip it but you must still register with the city.)

First, check that the legal name of your business entity is available.

Kentucky has a One Stop Business Portal that will walk you through the incorporation process online. This process will:

  • register you with the Kentucky Department of Revenue
  • help you meet state tax requirements
  • take about an hour

After completing the online registration, you will have an official business name. Use this name on your occupational license application.

Visit Kentucky's One Stop Business Portal to incorporate your business online.

2. Register for a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

You can apply online for a federal EIN (also known as a federal Taxpayer Identification Number) for your business. The process is free and takes about 15 minutes.

Once you have an EIN, you will include it on your city occupational license application.

Apply for a federal EIN

3. Certificate of Occupancy

A certificate of occupancy is a legal document that indicates that you can use your building or space legally.

Some locations already have a certificate of occupancy on file with the city. If so, you will need to get a copy of the existing certificate. Then you will submit it with your occupational license application.

4. Apply for a business permit (occupational license)

Once you have registered your business name with the state, have a federal EIN, and a certificate of occupancy, you are ready to apply for an occupational license.

Download the business permit (occupational license) application

SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION

You can submit the application in person or by mail. Please include a check for the $100 license fee made payable to LFUCG.

To submit in person, please visit:

Division of Revenue
2nd floor 200 E Main St.
Lexington, KY 40507

To mail the application, please send to:

Division of Revenue
PO Box 14058
Lexington, KY 40512

5. Paying taxes and registering regulated businesses

Regulated businesses

If your business is on the list of regulated businesses, please contact the Division of Revenue for information regarding additional licensing and fees.

Filing occupational taxes during the year

Once your business is licensed with the city, you will need to pay the occupational tax. If your business makes:

  • less than $53,333: you pay every three months (quarterly)
  • more than $53,333: you pay every month
     

In addition, every business will submit several forms to the city with your end of year filings.

Learn more about occupational tax requirements and forms

Help is available

If at any point you have questions, please email or call (859) 280-8300.

You can also receive help creating a small business with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center.

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