Does a Nonprofit Organization in Pennsylvania Require a Business License?

By Elizabeth Rayne

A business license is simply an issuance of permission to operate in the state. Although nonprofits do not transact business in the traditional sense, they must still obtain various permissions from the state of Pennsylvania to conduct their affairs. Depending on the type of nonprofit organization, required permits may include general licensing, occupational licensing, charity registration, local licensing, and foreign business licensing.

General Licensing

A nonprofit organization's "license," or authority, to operate in the state of Pennsylvania is its properly filed articles of incorporation. The articles of incorporation must include the names of the incorporators, the name of the nonprofit, and state its charitable purpose. The articles may also list the directors of the nonprofit and the duration of the business. Organizations are required to advertise their intention to incorporate in two local newspapers. The articles are filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State with the appropriate fee. Once the state accepts and approves the articles, the nonprofit has the authority to operate in the state of Pennsylvania.

Occupational Licensing

Depending on the type of business you are operating, you may be required to obtain a professional license. Occupations that require licensing include legal services, accounting and most health-related professions. You must contact the specific state board that pertains to your profession to determine the licensing requirements. For general information about professional occupations, or to determine if a profession requires a license, you can contact the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

Ready to form a nonprofit? Get Started Now

Charity Registration

The nonprofit must file a charitable organization registration statement with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations for permission to solicit donations from Pennsylvania residents. Religious institutions and public charities that receive contributions of less than $25,000 per year are excluded from this requirement; they do not need permission to solicit donations. Additionally, professional solicitors and professional fundraising counsels who are paid to raise funds for organizations must register with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Charitable Organizations before they are allowed to raise funds.

Local Licensing

If a nonprofit has a physical location in a particular Pennsylvania town or county, it may need a local business license or permit. Some counties require that all businesses, including nonprofits, apply for a business permit. Certain businesses may require additional permits, such as child care facilities, food vending businesses, or tobacco-related companies. Further, permits are required whenever new construction takes place.

Foreign Business Licensing

If your nonprofit organization is registered in another state, you must obtain a certificate of authority from the Secretary of the Commonwealth to have permission to conduct business in Pennsylvania. The application for a certificate of authority must be filed with the Secretary, accompanied by a docketing statement. Nonprofit organizations must publicize their intent to apply for a certificate of authority in two Pennsylvania newspapers.

Ready to form a nonprofit? Get Started Now
How to Start a Sole Proprietorship in Maryland
 

References

Related articles

Rules & Regulations for Non-Profit Associations in Pennsylvania

Forming a nonprofit will enable you to carry forth your charitable mission, while allowing your supporters to make tax-deductible donations to your cause. In Pennsylvania, nonprofit associations are referred to as nonprofit corporations, which are regulated by the state's Nonprofit Corporation Law. Before officially forming the organization under state law, it is important to understand the general requirements for nonprofits, and to have a board of directors in place to manage the corporation.

Requirements to Have a Raffle in Pennsylvania

Raffles are considered a form of gambling in Pennsylvania. This classification applies to all games that require a fee to enter and include the possibility of winning a prize by random selection. However, the state does permit certain organizations to hold raffles, so long as a license is first obtained and all proceeds are used to further a charitable purpose. The process is governed by the Local Option Small Games of Chance Act of 1988, which contains specific registration, operating and reporting requirements.

How to Set Up a Partnership in Virginia

Partnerships are a common business type because they are relatively simple to set up and allow for flexibility in management structure. A general partnership is an agreement between two or more people to go into business together for profit. The partners remain personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. Virginia partnerships are governed by state partnership law and by contractual agreements between the parties.

Doing the right thing has never been easier.

Related articles

The Requirements of a Sole Proprietor in Pennsylvania

Sole proprietorships are common business entities because they are simple to set up, and have relatively few filing ...

How to Start a Non-Profit Organization for At-Risk Youth

Starting a nonprofit for at-risk youth can be as complex as starting a for-profit enterprise. Although it may be ...

Do You Need a License to Collect for Charity?

Most states regulate fundraising to protect the public, corporations and any potential donors from fraudulent ...

Sole Proprietorship Laws in Illinois

For individuals looking to start a business without partners, a sole proprietorship is a common business entity because ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED