As a new salon owner, one of the first things you’ll need to do is understand salon license requirements and the application process. Don’t worry, it’s not as intimidating as it seems.
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- What License Do You Need To Open A Salon?
- How To Apply For a Salon License?
- How Much Does A Salon License Cost?
- What Can You Do In A Salon Without A License?
What License Do You Need To Open A Salon?
If you’re about to ask “Do I need a license to open a salon” then you’ve come to the right place.
In most cases, there’s not a single salon business operation license that covers everything- depending on your services offered and your salon’s location, it’s likely that you (and your employees) will need various licenses and permits. Let’s take a closer look.
Salon Business License: Do you need a business license to open a salon? Absolutely. Salons, along with all other small businesses,need a license to operate. You can apply for this by contacting the U.S. Small Business Administration or on your state department’s website- start by providing your business name, your name, and social security number.
Certificate of Occupancy: This requires an inspection before your state or city government approves it. Inspectors check your salon business location to ensure that there’s adequate space and safe water and electrical installations to provide services to clients.
Retail Permits: Most salon business models include retail product sales (and most states collect sales tax), which means that you’ll need to obtain a retail seller permit as part of your salon shop license. This is another thing you can get at either the state level or from the U.S. Small Business Administration if you’re planning to sell haircare products.
Building Permits: If you’re doing any building, salon fit-outs or general renovations, you’ll need a permit from the state or city. Usually, this involves filing an application, then having the electrical department, building inspector and/or fire inspector come out to check things over before signing off on it.
Employer Identification Number: Also called an EIN, you’ll need to have this number when you file federal or state tax forms, do your payroll or file any other official documents as an employer.
Cosmetologist’s License: Salon owners only need these licenses if they’ll be the ones providing services to clients. All stylists on staff will need to have an up-to-date cosmetology license in order for your salon to legally operate.
Pro tip: In home salon requirements and mini salon license requirements will be a bit different than a standard building, so be sure to verify your state’s policies before applying to save time.
We often get asked “Do I need a license to rent a salon suite?” and the answer is yes- the difference with suites is that you might not need building permits or a certificate of occupancy for example, since those may already have been covered by the salon suite rental business itself.
How To Apply For a Salon License?
You’ll probably need to apply for more than one license, especially if you’ll be helping to provide each salon service along with your team. Here’s an overview of how to get a new salon license.
Trade Associations: As we said before, there is no single, most comprehensive license that covers every requirement that each state government has, so one of the easiest ways to determine the licensing process in your area is to contact a local trade association- it’s inexpensive for licensed cosmetologists and beauty professionals to join, and they can provide assistance.
Some examples include the Professional Beauty Association, the Association of Cosmetology Salon Professionals, and the Salon and Spa Professional Association. These organizations can provide tips on getting every salon owner license and salon license renewal in your state, and also provide valuable education and networking opportunities.
U.S. Small Business Administration: Among other things, they provide licenses for small businesses, issue retail permits (important if you want to sell products), and provide information about small business ownership, how to get a salon license, and tips on how to succeed as a local business.
They also offer information about loans and funding for salons and small businesses to raise money, along with a ton of educational resources free to use.
Cosmetology License: In order to operate as a hairdresser or barber, you’ll have to complete a course from an accredited school, receive a certificate of completion, then apply and pay to sit a state’s licensing exam (some courses include this as part of the process). Once you have your new license, you’ll have to keep it up to date and review it regularly.
State Websites: You can find information here about fees and requirements for building permits and health and safety inspection requirements, and apply for your Federal Employer Identification Number.
The state board requirements for opening a salon will usually require anyone filing a new salon application to have (or be ready to get) General Liability Insurance to protect staff, clients and the business.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to check your city or county’s website for additional resources, tips and the complete local information/ business regulations.
We recommend you to check out our post on Buying A Salon.
How Much Does A Salon License Cost?
Licenses and permits all have their own costs, and each new license fee might be different depending on the state you’re in, so it’s hard to quote a single amount that covers each salon license application. Here’s an overview of the general costs you can expect:
License: The salon business operation license cost is the same as other small businesses and ranges between $100-$400 including the processing fees.
You may wonder “What about mini salons? What is the application fee for a mini salon license?” In some states, it’s significantly cheaper and can cost as little as $60.
Certificate of Occupancy: This will cost at least $250, and more in many states. Remember: if the building inspector identifies any problems or repairs you need to make, you’ll be required to take care of these before scheduling (and paying for) a second inspection.
Professional Certifications: The exact licenses that you and your staff will need will vary depending on the type of services your salon offers (make sure to perform a salon license lookup on your state’s website to verify this), and you’ll have to keep all the licensing and certificates up to date. The costs for licensed stylists and cosmetologists to renew these can range from $50-$500.
Insurance: A legal requirement that no business should ever skip (especially a salon) General liability Insurance usually costs between $50 to $250 each month.
What Can You Do In A Salon Without A License?
This is a good question, and one that we get asked quite often. The answer is complicated, and it varies depending on where you live. Here are some things that don’t always require a license.
Own the Salon: If you’re wondering how to open a hair salon without a cosmetology license, you’re in luck- as long as you don’t perform services and just run the business, you probably don’t need a cosmetology license (although you still need a business license, insurance and everything else we’ve mentioned).
Be a Receptionist: If you’re welcoming clients, scheduling appointments and answering phones, odds are that you don’t need a license for this.
Hair Braiding (Sometimes): In some states, you don’t need to be licensed to do braid hair, although these requirements are changing rapidly.
Shampoo Hair (Sometimes): Currently, there are 14 states that don’t require shampooers to apply for salon license or cosmetology training, since they just assist stylists.
Be an Apprentice (Sometimes): Some states let apprentices earn their license while performing limited duties in the salon as part of their apprenticeship.
If you’re still wondering how to get a salon business operation license, then the best thing to do is check your state’s website. Along with the U.S. Small Business Administration, these are the most valuable resources available and are updated regularly.
Getting your salon license is an exciting step in the process of opening your new business, and we’re excited for you. Make sure to do your research, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the journey.
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