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Federal License Lookup

If you engage in any business activities regulated by the federal government, you will need a federal license. Different federal agencies issue these licenses, and you’ll need to meet the requirements before getting one. Learn more about the available federal licenses and what you need to do to receive one. Then, you can begin working toward getting the right federal license for your business.

Federal Agriculture License

Do you transport or import animals, animal by-products, plants, biotechnology, or biologics? If so, do you cross state lines while doing business? You’ll need an agriculture permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency issues different permits based on the type of business. That means your requirements will be different if you need to obtain a permit for animal and animal products as opposed to a permit for biotechnology. Fortunately, the agency outlines the requirements on its website, so you can easily determine what you need to obtain the appropriate federal licenses. Regardless of the permit you need, you will need to provide federal identification. Make sure your driver’s license meets the Real ID card requirements. Your license is REAL ID-compliant if it has a star on the top. If it doesn’t comply with the Real ID standards, contact your local DMV.

Federal Alcoholic Beverages Control / Liquor License

You need to obtain a federal alcoholic beverages license before you can manufacture, import, wholesale, or sell alcoholic beverages at any retail locations. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau makes it easy to obtain the permits you need. Use the Permits Online Customer Page to find out what permits you need and how to get them. Then, you can use it to check the status of your application once you apply. Again, make sure you meet the Real ID requirements before applying for the federal license.

Federal Aviation License

Does your business include operating or maintaining aircraft? Maybe you transport people or goods via air travel. If so, you need a federal aviation license. The Federal Aviation Administration issues licenses and certificates for aircraft, pilots, airports, and more. It maintains a database of licenses and guidelines on its website, making it easy to determine the steps you must take to get your federal license.

Federal Firearms, Ammunition, and Explosives License

You need to get a federal firearms license if your company imports, deals, or manufactures:

  • Firearms
  • Ammunitions
  • Explosives

You need to fill out the Application for License (FFL) – ATF Form 7/7CR to get your federal firearms license. After submitting your license to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, you will have to pass a background check. You will also need to undergo an interview before you can get a federal firearms license. After you get your license, you’ll be added to the database. Then, your information will come up if someone conducts an FFL license lookup.

Federal Fish and Wildlife License

If you import or export wildlife or engage in another wildlife-related business activity, you need the appropriate federal license. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides permits for companies that engage in wildlife-related activities. You need to visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website and find your specific business permit requirements.

Federal Commercial Fisheries License

Does your company take part in commercial fishing? If so, you need a commercial fisheries license through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service. The permit you need is based on your fishing location. For instance, there are permits for the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and more. You will need to visit the administration’s website, find the licensing information for your business, and then follow the steps to obtain your permit. Don’t try to engage in your business without obtaining the proper federal licenses first.

Federal Maritime Transportation and Logistics License

Do you facilitate cargo shipments by sea or offer ocean transportation? If so, you’ll need to obtain a maritime transportation license through the Federal Maritime Commission. The commission’s Bureau of Certification and Licensing handles the ocean transportation and passenger vessel certification licensing. Reach out to the bureau if you need to obtain a maritime transportation license. As with other federal licenses, be prepared to submit a driver’s license that meets the Real ID guidelines when applying.

Federal Mining and Drilling License

Do you run a company that drills for oil, natural gas, or other mineral resources? If you conduct the drilling on federal land, you’ll need a mining and drilling license from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The bureau sets licensing requirements based on the type of company you run. After you go through the steps to meet the requirements, you can apply for your permit and operate your company on federal lands.

Federal Nuclear Energy License

You need a nuclear energy license if you’re in the business of:

  • Producing nuclear energy
  • Operating as a fuel cycle federal facility
  • Distributing or disposing of nuclear materials

You will need to meet the licensing guidelines set forth by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Then, you can apply for your license through the commission.

Federal Radio and Television Broadcasting License

If your company broadcasts over satellite, cable, wire, television, or radio, you need to get a license from the Federal Communications Commission. There are different licensing requirements based on your needs. Visit the Federal Communications Commission’s website to learn more about your federal licensing requirements.

Federal Transportation and Logistics License

If your company operates oversize or overweight vehicles, you’ll need a state permit. Getting a state permit can be confusing, though, so the U.S. Department of Transportation is here to help. The federal agency will help you connect with the appropriate state agency to receive your permit, so you can operate legally in your state.

U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s License

Do you want to transport passengers for hire? You can take passengers out for diving, sightseeing, fishing, teaching, or transportation with the U.S. Coast Guard’s captain’s license. You can get an Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vehicles (OUPV) license if you want to transport six or fewer passengers. If you’re going to transport more than six passengers, you’ll need the Master’s license to operate inspected vehicles.
If you want to get your OUPV license, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and have 360 days of boating experience. You have to pass a drug test and medical exam and be certified in adult CPR and basic first aid. Then, you’ll need to get a TWIC card and take the pre-licensing education and pass the exam. You can then apply for your U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license through the National Maritime Center.

You can then pursue your Master’s license if you wish. You’ll need at least 90 days of service on a vessel with adequate tonnage. You must take the pre-licensing education and pass a test. You can then apply for your U.S. Coast Guard Master’s license at the National Maritime Center.



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