Yes, you would need a license to open a braiding salon in the United States. However, the requirements to start this business tend to depend on the state your braiding salon is located, the type of legal structure the salon uses, and general business laws.

In the United States, there are state rules that regulate the registration and licensing of businesses, as well as zoning laws. You are expected to choose a suitable legal structure for your business and register it through the office of your secretary of state.

According to Braiding Freedom, there are eleven states that do not license natural hair braiders. The other 39 states and the District of Columbia have some sort of license requirements, with the number of training hours ranging from six hours to over 2000.

When looking to start any business in the United States, it is always advisable to check the rules on business licenses on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. The SBA database contains links to each state’s individual statutes, where you will find information about the type of License or permits you need and whether there are local ordinances with which you must comply.

Some states also have rules regarding sanitation and the regulation of chemicals including cosmetics. Note that if your braiding salon stocks supply for retail, you will need to abide by these rules.

Types of Licenses Needed to Open a Braiding Salon

Below are the licenses and permits you are expected to acquire when starting a braiding salon in the United States. Note that these licenses are not specific to just braiding salons but tend to apply to almost any local business.

  1.  Cosmetology License

Have it in mind that not all braiding salon owners possess a cosmetology license. Unless the owner will be personally performing salon services on patrons, you are not required to carry any cosmetology certification. A cosmetology license gives salon employees the right to provide beauty services in the salon and is issued by the state government.

Cosmetology licenses need to be renewed approximately every two years but this can vary by state. The cosmetology certificates should be clearly displayed in the salon so that both inspectors and salon clients can see them without effort.

  1. Salon License

Every state Board of Cosmetology licenses and regulates cosmetologists and other related businesses. These boards mandate a salon license for any location where cosmetology or a specialty (nail, facial, full specialists) is practiced. The intention is to make sure the public has access to salon services in a safe and sanitary environment.

Note that operating a salon or barbershop without this license is considered unlicensed activity. Unlicensed activity in the US is a criminal offense and can result in misdemeanor or felony charges if an individual is convicted.

  1. Retail Seller Permit

Note that your state may mandate you to acquire a specific permit in order to retail braids. For instance, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) expects your braiding salon to request a specific permit when you sell or lease merchandise.

A seller’s permit normally does not cost anything. However, you may be expected to place a security deposit to cover any unpaid taxes in case the business closes. The amount of the deposit will be determined at the time of application.

  1. Business Operation License

Every state in the United States requires that you have a business license. To apply for your business license at your state department you can go to The U.S. Small Business Administration. You only have to fill out a form with your social security number and profession.

A business license normally costs around $100 but the cost can range from $50 to $400. Note that an additional processing fee of about $25 can also be added.

  1. Doing Business As (DBA) License

A Doing Business As (DBA) License offers you the opportunity to operate your business under a name other than your own.

A DBA is not mandatory, but since it fulfills some requirements for opening a business bank account and enforcing any necessary contracts, it is definitely something to consider getting. If you want to register for a DBA, you must file with your county or state.

  1. Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Note that every state collects sales tax on products you sell to consumers. Normally you pay 8% of your retail price in state tax. You are expected to go to your state’s tax office to register for this. You will need to provide your business operation license, personal details, and a description of the items you are planning to sell.

Online incorporation services charge around $75 for an EIN. Note that the IRS does not charge anything for it so you can get this yourself for free by going directly to them. You can apply for a Federal Employer Identification Number online at the IRS.

  1. Certificate of Occupancy

You are also expected to validate that your property is fit for the store you are planning to set up. A beauty product-related business is expected to meet specific water installation and treatment of chemicals requirements so make sure that the property is inspected before you set up your business.

The Certificate of Occupancy is a document that is issued by a local government agency or building department that certifies that your property is compliant with the requirements for the type of business you are planning to run. You are expected to request this certificate before any work is done on the property.

The cost for a Certificate of Occupancy is around $20 to $80 depending on where your business is based and the size of your property.

Commercial business spaces less than 1’500 sq. ft. are typically around $30 whereas bigger ones go up to $80. This certificate will be issued when all inspection checks have been done. These inspections include an electrical inspection, plumbing inspection, fire safety inspection, and general building inspection.

How to Apply

Aside from the licenses listed above, it is important to note that every state in the US requires that a hair salon must have a business license. To apply for this business license, you just need to fill out a form with your social security number and profession.

A business license typically costs around $100 but the cost can range from $50 to $400. An additional processing fee of about $25 can also be added. The same process is required when you want to apply for the licenses listed above,