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Business License Checklist: What to Prepare When You Get or Renew Your Car Wash License

Business License Checklist

Business License Checklist: What to Prepare When You Get or Renew Your Car Wash License

Whether you are applying for a business license for the first time or simply renewing it, referring to a business license checklist has several benefits. It is helpful to methodically work through a checklist. This is because you are less likely to skip an important stage in the application process. It can save time, effort and money. If you don’t submit all the information initially, your application will be incomplete. This may delay the approval of your license. Also, this could result in legal fees and a fine.

Applying for a business license online is usually quicker than handing over paper submissions in person. However, you must remember to upload all the relevant documents. If you use checklist it helps. The requirements and checklist will vary according to whether you are applying for a license for the first time or if you are renewing an existing license.

Business License Checklist When Applying for the First Time

If you plan to open a car wash you are going to need an applicable business license to meet all the legal requirements that go with starting up and running a business. Here are some key points on your business license checklist:

Research Your State-Specific Requirements

The first step on your business license checklist is to familiarize yourself with your state and local regulations. Some states may require extra documents. You can get in touch with your town, city or county clerk’s office for information. Alternatively, you can find out more about business license requirements from the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA).

The licensing requirements may include getting a wastewater permit from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). You can check out state-specific regulations online at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You may also need a sales tax license if you plan to sell car washing products to the public.

Fill Out Business License Application

Next on your business license checklist is to fill out a license application form relevant to the car wash industry. Whether you need a mobile car wash business permit or a license for a physical car wash, you’ll be asked to provide details such as your business’s legal structure, the name of your business, address, contact details, background questions and, of course, your signature to authorize the submission of your car wash license application.

In order to qualify for a car wash license, you will need to submit all the relevant forms and documentation along with your complete application form. Depending on your state regulations, the required documents are as follows:

Enclose Articles of Organization or Relevant Business Certificate

What is your business’s legal structure? Part of the business registration procedure is to select a business entity, such as sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), partnership or corporation. Once you decide on your legal structure, you should go and issue a formal legal documents to confirm this. For example, Articles of Organization are part of the legal paperwork relating to an LLC. Depending on the state in which you plan to operate your business, you may also need to submit a business certificate. This is along with your car wash license application. If you are joining a franchise, make sure you are familiar with the franchise regulations that go with registering a business.

Business License Checklist Includes Your Doing-Business-As (DBA) Form

Next on your business license checklist is a reminder to supply a copy of your DBA. This is the name you intend to use for your car wash once you start trading. If you haven’t already got one, you can apply for a DBA from your local Secretary of State Office. Alternatively, you can do the process of filing a DBA online, although the process may vary from state to state. So always check the legislation relating to your specific location.

Include Your Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An EIN is a unique identification number. You will get your own one for your car wash business. It is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number. Assigning numbers to businesses makes them easily identifiable to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Small businesses can apply online at the IRS.

Provide Proof of Various Insurance Documents

Insurance requirements vary between states. However, as a general guide the following documents should feature on your business license checklist application:

  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance: This is an insurance certificate that employers in most states must have. It is a type of insurance that will pay out to your employees if they are injured while working for your business. Note, this isn’t the same as proof of disability benefits, see below.
  • Disability Benefits Insurance: This provides a percentage of someone’s income if they are unable to work. As well as covering short and long-term disabilities, it also covers depression, cancer and other medical illnesses that may prevent your car wash employees from working.
  • Commercial General Liability Insurance: This is a type of insurance that helps to protect your business assets should you need financial assistance for legal defense, property damage, medical payments or customer personal injury claims.
  • Unemployment Insurance: This is to help protect employees should they have to be laid off from their jobs.

Note, if you are not required by law to have certain types of insurance coverage, you may still be required to submit an official certificate of exemption. Again, check with your state’s licensing authority to clarify.

Enclose a Copy of Your Surety Bond (Depends on Your Business Location)

Sometimes a surety bond is part of car wash licensing requirements. For example, if you plan to open a car wash in New York City or California, you will need to enclose proof of your surety bond to obtain a car wash license. This type of bond is a legally-binding agreement that provides a financial guarantee that your car wash will fulfil your obligations as outlined in the bond agreement. It is a three-party agreement between the principal (you), the obligee and the surety (the company issuing the bond).

Pay the Car Wash Business License Fee

Business license fees vary. The amount you are required to pay depends on how long the license is valid and in which state you file for a business license. For example, it is around $300 for an annual registration in California.

Final Step on Business License Checklist: Submit Business License Application

If you have followed your business license checklist and done your research on state-specific requirements, you should have successfully completed your application form. Double check everything is in place then submit your signed application along with the necessary payment. Allow for up to 45 days for your application to be processed.

Don’t forget there are other areas of your business where a checklist comes in useful. For example, a new employee training checklist helps to optimize employee performance.

Business License Checklist When Renewing License

Your business license will expire after a set period of time. Make a note of when you need to renew it and give yourself enough time to complete the process. Furthermore, depending on which state your business is registered in, you may need to renew your business license a couple of months before your license expires. For example, in California submit your application at least 90 days before your current business license expires. If you don’t renew your business license in time, you risk incurring a fine. Failure to renew your license will result in your license being canceled and you will have to reapply all over again. Your business license checklist when renewing includes the following:

  • Fill out the business license renewal form, either a paper submission or online. This includes providing your business name, license number and EIN.
  • Include or upload required documents, such as up-to-date insurance policies.
  • Include license renewal fee. This amount varies between states.
  • Submit application.

Note, if you need help keeping on top of business tasks in general or for important reminders, a daily checklist is the answer.


Our business license checklist highlights the important steps in the process and lists the necessary paperwork and supporting documents you must provide. However, be mindful that license rules and regulations vary between states. Contact your state’s licensing authority if you are unsure what documentation you need to supply with your license application. If you’d like to download this helpful article as a step-by-step checklist, simply fill out this form and we’ll gladly send it over to you:

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The process of obtaining a business license and meeting the correct legal requirements can be a lot to take on when you are starting a business. If you would prefer to partner with an established business in the car wash industry, check out the DetailXPerts opportunity. We support our franchisees every step of the way, including making sure they operate according to relevant local and state laws and regulations.

Also, be sure to follow DetailXPerts on LinkedIn for more car wash business and franchise industry topics and discussions.


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