All businesses within the incorporated city limits of Fort Smith must obtain a Business License unless the business qualifies for an exemption. Please refer to Do I Qualify for more information on exemptions. Business Licenses are managed in accordance with the City of Fort Smith Code of Ordinances, Chapter 13, Article 3 – Occupational Registration.
View Code of Ordinances
In December 2017, business licensing requirements and fees were amended in accordance with Ordinance No. 78-17. Generally, the annual business license fee is $100.
The City of Fort Smith welcomes a wide variety of businesses, encouraging the growth of commerce by facilitating the information needed to become a legally operating business. As there are many different scenarios that require special consideration, we hope to offer an informed direction to help you begin your entrepreneurial endeavor.
The process to obtain a business license in the City of Fort Smith begins with the TYPE of buienss license application the applicant will need to use during the application process.
To determie the correct application type please ask yourself these questions:
- Do I have a physical location within the City of Fort Smith?
- If the answer is no, Please go to question 2.
- If the answer is yes, You will need a Business Registration Application (entitled Business License in the link below).
- Do I have a Mobile Food truck in the City of Fort Smith?
- If the answer is no, Please go to question 3.
- If the answer is yes, please determine if your Mobile Food Truck will be located on Private Property or Public Property. You can find an application for Mobile Food Vending-Private property (Parking Lots) and Mobile Food Public Property (Downtown Only) in the link below.
- Do I have a business I would like to run from my home?
- If the answer is no, please go to question 4.
- If the answer is yes & YOU LIVE OUTSIDE THE CITY OF FORT SMITH, you will need a Business Registration Application (entitled Business License in the link below).
- If the answer is yes & YOU LIVE INSIDE THE CITY OF FORT SMITH, please determine if you will have customers, inventory, tools, or equipment on site. If there will be no customers, inventory, tools, or equipment on site you will need the Accessory Residential Use (Home Office, No Customers) application in the link below.
*Accessory Residential Use applications have a $35.00 application fee.
- If you will have customers, inventory, tools, or equipment on site you will need the Home Occupation application in the link below.
*Home Occupation business license applications have a $150.00 application fee. and requires Planning Commission Approval.
- Do I have a business that will be operating for 90 days or less in the City of Fort Smith?
- If the answer is no, please contact our Business License Specialist to further explore appropriate Business License applications.
- If the answer is yes, you can find the Business Registration Application in the link below. (entitled Business License)
*Temporary business license applications have a $250.00 application fee.
Businesses that have more than one physical location inside the City of Fort Smith are required to get a license for each location. Please contact the Business License Specialist at 479-784-2299 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions related to the Business License Program.
PLEASE FIND YOUR APPLICATION IN THIS LINK: business application.
Once your application is filled out, please submit to the Planning & Zoning department. The application will be reviewed and distributed to appropriate departments as needed for additional reviews. Our Business License Specialist will provide assistance as your application moves through the process.
Business licenses are required to be renewed annually. Business license renewals are sent via mail approximatly one month prior to expiration. The renewal forms should be completed and returned along with payment of fees (PLEASE ENSURE THE RENEWAL FORM IS ENCLOSED) to the City of Fort Smith at:
City of Fort Smith
Attn: Business Licenses
PO Box 1908
Fort Smith, AR 72902
Penalties will be assessed for late payments.
If a registration (or renewal) is submitted after the due date, the following penalties will be assessed:
Thirty (30) days after expiration: $50.00
Sixty (60) days or more after expiration: $100.00
Why am I required to pay for all of these licenses?
The licenses are required to protect the general public by ensuring that a business is legally entitled to perform commerce related activities in the area, along with meeting criteria and regulation for public safety. Not only is it for the public's safety, but for the business owner's protection as well.
- Businesses that are a corporation, non-profit, LLC, LLP, association, or sole proprietor
- Businesses that have any type of state or federal license
- Businesses that have or should have a sale tax or use permit
- Landlords who have any commercial, industrial or institutional property
- Religious institutions (no general fee)
- Educational institutions (no general fee)
- Non-profit entities with a 501(c) 3 or similar designation (no general fee)
- Government entities
- Home-based businesses
- Insurance Agencies (no general fee)
Some businesses require additional permits for professional services, such as tattoo parlors and medical service centers.
Some professionals are no longer required to have a separate license, such as employees providing professional services at law firms, architecture firms, engineering firms, etc.
A good rule of thumb, if you receive a W2 from your employer at year end, you likely do not need a separate business license.
Most realtors are designated self-employed and receive 1099’s at year end, and therefore, need individual business licenses.