The other day a friend asked me if he needed to register his website as a business or with a local authority before going live and I’m sure there must be other people out there wondering the same.
And if you’re reading this article, I’m guessing you’re one of them!
I’ll let you know his exact question along with my answer. Then, we’ll take a look at some examples of when you will and won’t need a license.
Important: Before we jump in, I’d like to put out that I’m not a lawyer and this article’s based my understanding. If you’re unsure before proceeding, my advice is to contact a legal professional.
The Question and My Answer
My friend, a keen amateur photographer asked;
I’m going to make a website so that I can upload all of my pictures for storage and share them with friends. I know it’s not a business, but do I need some kind of license or should I register with somebody as I don’t want to get into trouble?
As he’s not intending to sell his images or monetize the website in any other way, my answer was a simple no.
Let’s take a quick look at a few other scenarios;
When You Shouldn’t Need a Business License
I always like to take the common sense approach to questions like these. For example, ask yourself “do I intend to profit from this website in anyway shape or form?”
Here are 4 examples of when you don’t;
- As above, a personal photography site or album to store your pictures online.
- A CV style website to help you get a job.
- A hobby site such as fishing or sewing that you use to record your achievements and share with friends.
- A personal travel blog to record your adventures.
8 Examples of When You Definitely Will
- You turn your hobby site into a membership and charge people a membership fee.
- You sell any type of physical or digital product.
- You recommend other peoples products in exchange for a commision (affiliate marketing).
- You collect leads in order to sell them to others.
- You place advertising on your site such as Google Adsense.
- Individuals pay you for private advertising.
- People pay you to let them write articles for your website
- You accept donations on your website (this one should be checked with your local authorities).
As I said above, if you’re creating your site for business purposes or intend to profit from it anyway, then the chances are you will have to register as a business.
However, if it’ purely for personal use to share your hobby or passion, you’ll be just fine without. If in doubt, always check with the state or local authorities.