Why You Need a Business License for Your Etsy Store

Why You Need a Business License for Your Etsy Store

Etsy is a simple way to start selling online. There’s no startup cost, no inventory requirements, and there are tons of active buyers who are interested in buying what you have available for sale. But many don’t realize peddling their wares on sites like Etsy may require various licenses and permits, depending on the type of business and state - and sometimes the county or municipality - in which you are selling.

Read on to learn about Etsy and if you may need to file for business licenses in your jurisdiction.

A Brief Introduction to Etsy

Etsy is a website that specializes in handmade physical and digital goods. Anyone can open a seller account with little or no previous retail experience or computer skills.

It’s a global community with over 1.7 million active sellers and 28.6 million active buyers. With over $2 billion in gross sales in 2016 alone, it’s easy to see why so many crafters love to sell on Etsy.

Another advantage of selling on Etsy is that you don’t need to hire someone to create a website for you. A seller simply opens an account and starts uploading product shots and details to open a store.

Many Etsy sellers are focused on making cool products for their customers and don’t consider what they do a business. But some states require you to pay taxes on your Etsy sales, regardless of if you view it as a hobby or not.

Etsy and Business License Requirements

To avoid violations and fines you’ll want to make sure you comply with local laws and regulations when selling on Etsy.

Even if you’re only selling on Etsy for fun, the state, county or municipality you live in may require a license.

Legal Considerations for Etsy Sellers

Sales and Use Tax

Many states require Etsy sellers to collect sales tax. Depending on the state where you do business, sales and use tax can be complicated. Currently, six states do not charge state sales tax.

In addition to state sales tax, you also may need to collect local sales tax, depending on your local regulations.

Physical Vs. Digital Sales

Tax and licensing laws do not always apply equally to digital and physical goods. Some states require sales tax collection on physical goods only, while others tax both physical and digital products. Check with your local taxing authority and accountant to determine if you need to collect sales tax from your buyers.

Fictitious Business Names

Most Etsy sellers come up with unique names for their shops to stand out and let buyers know the types of products they sell. If you sell products under a name other than your own you may need to register a Doing Business As (DBA) with your state or locality, even if you’re not required to be licensed.

Selling Food on Etsy

If you’re selling food on your Etsy store, you may need to be certified through your local Health Department to sell online. The US Food and Drug Administration has great resources to help you navigate the various requirements for US sellers. On the state level, Forrager can help you determine the specific cottage food laws for your state.

Hobby vs. For-Profit Business

Do you need a business license for your Etsy store if you only do it for fun?

The short answer: It depends.

The long answer: The IRS requires every penny of income you receive to be reported on your federal tax return whether you do it for fun or for profit. Every state is different, and some may require licenses and others don’t. Check with your state and local taxing authorities to answer this question.


Etsy is a great way to make money from your passion for crafting. While the business side of things can seem a little complicated, don’t be discouraged. Just be sure to follow your local rules and regulations when it comes to licenses, permits and taxes.

To Learn More

CT is dedicated to making business easy so you can focus on doing what you love while leaving the rest to us. For more information check out our Business License page or contact us today at (855) 316-8948.

Request a Custom Quote

Have a specific question about a product? A CT Specialist will follow up with a custom quote along with a comprehensive assessment of your needs.