How to Cancel Your Business License

Two Parts:Identifying Government Agencies to ContactContacting the Government Agency

A “business license” can refer to a variety of permits or licenses that you need to lawfully operate a business. If you decide to close your business, then you should cancel all business licenses and permits that were issues to you. Problems could arise if you fail to do so. For example, someone else could get ahold of your license and use it. If this happens, then you might be liable for the taxes that person incurred.

Part 1
Identifying Government Agencies to Contact

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    Find your permits and licenses. You may have received a variety of permits and licenses to open your business. You should go through your records and find all of them so that you will remember to contact each government agency. Some of the following licenses or permits you might have include:[1]
    • a fictitious business name (doing business as, or “DBA”)
    • a seller’s permit (also called a wholesale license or a resale license)
    • a business registration license or tax registration
    • permits specific to your business, such as a food preparation permit granted by the Department of Health
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    Identify the government agencies who issued them. You need to cancel your licenses and permits with the agencies that issued them in the first place. You should look at your communications and find the name of the agency that issued each permit or license.
    • If you did not keep accurate records and do not have a copy of the license or permit in front of you, then contact your state’s corporations department. This may be called your state’s Division of Corporations or the Secretary of State’s office. Tell them which licenses and permits you have and ask who you should contact to cancel each.
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    Find contact information. Look at your communications, or search the internet, to find the phone number for the agency. Each agency will have its own process for cancelling licenses and permits. You will need to reach out to each agency and ask how to cancel.

Part 2
Contacting the Government Agency

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    File an abandonment form for a DBA. You should contact the state agency and ask for the form (if any). Some states may require you to write a letter instead of filling out a form. Call your state’s corporation department and ask.
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    Publish notice of the abandonment. You may also have to publish notice in a newspaper that you are abandoning the business.[2] Check with the agency. Typically, you can publish in the same newspaper that you published in when you registered your fictitious business name.
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    Cancel your resale license. Call the relevant state office to cancel your resale or wholesale license. It is especially important that you not use this license for your own personal use. If you do, then you may have committed a crime.[3]
    • You may need to notify your suppliers in writing that the certificate you were issued is no longer valid.[4] Be sure to hold onto copies of your letters for your records.
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    Contact your city to cancel the business registration license. You will either need to fill out a form or provide a letter. Call and ask how you should cancel this license.
    • In the City of Chicago, for example, you will need to send either a letter or email to the city and explain what business activity you are cancelling. You should include contact information in case the city needs to ask you questions.[5]
    • In Seattle, you can cancel your license online by providing the following information:[6]
      • your customer number
      • the business’s legal name
      • the closing date of the business: month, day, and year
      • your name
      • your contact information (daytime phone, email, fax)
      • whether the business has a new owner
    • Before you can cancel your business registration license, you will need to pay all taxes owed and file final tax returns.[7] You should check with your state for the deadlines.
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    Cancel other permits with appropriate agencies. If you have additional permits or licenses (such as a liquor license, food preparation license, etc.), then contact the appropriate agency and ask how to cancel.
    • Be sure to retain copies of any communication that you receive from the department. You will want these as proof that you have cancelled the license in case questions arise later.


  • Don’t simply let your licenses expire. In some states, this is insufficient to cancel the license.[8]

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Categories: Business