skip to Main Content

Do You Need a Business License For a Website? (It Depends)

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.

Business man sat on a sofa working on a laptopAnd 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).

Final Thoughts

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *