No More Wading Through Government Websites to Identify Business Licenses and Permits, Says DocStoc

DocStoc, an online source of forms and professional documents, this past week launched a website to help identify U.S. federal, state and local licensing and business permit requirements for small businesses.

Called License 123, the new site aims to be a one-stop source to identify all licenses and permits required for a particular small business.  The site is designed to help small business owners and startup entrepreneurs save time, money and legal headaches.  Instead of searching all around the Web on various governmental websites wading through dense legalese, DocStoc’s vision is for the business owner to be able to go to one place, insert some simple data, and find all relevant license  information (see screenshot).


When you visit License 123, you enter your state, city, industry and type of business.  If your city is in the site’s database, you will get a list of all required licenses for your city, county and state.  For $9.95 you can download the full report including application forms, instructions, licensing authority contact information, and information about filing fees.  The site is not a filing service.  You apply for licenses on your own. But the idea is that by doing the searching for you, and compiling all information in one place, License123 saves you time and you don’t have to navigate the maze of legalese in most governmental websites — and risk missing licenses, thereby incurring monetary fines or other legal action.

According to Mike Sheridan, Chief Operating Officer of DocStoc,  “It’s true that a lot of jurisdictions have this information online.  However, to find all the information you would need to operate a food truck in Los Angeles, for instance, you have to go to 6 different websites.  Being out of compliance can cost $1,000 or more.”

License 123 today covers just 10 states, with the most complete information for California (in some states only one city is searchable today).  Says Sheridan, “Our goal in the next two months is to include the top 500 cities in the United States. They will represent all mainland U.S. states (except for Hawaii).”  After that their goal is to expand to the largest 1,000 cities.

As to why all cities and states are not included today, he noted that compiling it is a labor intensive effort and technology only takes you so far today.  It typically requires 3 to 5 full days of work for his team to research and compile all the licensing information for a large city like New York or Chicago.

License 123 is a product offering of DocStoc, a 5-year old company with 45 employees and 31 million legal and professional documents online.  The DocStoc site gets 21 million visits per month.



Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

9 Reactions
  1. We offer this service free to any business! You pay only for the bus. license! Check out your local SBDC office!

    • Charles, thanks for the heads up. We have to keep educating people about what the SBDCs offer. They are a gem and sometimes entrepreneurs and business owners are not aware.

      – Anita

    • This is a perfect example of why this site/service is needed. I went to the local SBDC site for california and fished around there for 15 mins and couldn’t find any help on this issue. What I mostly found, unfortunately, where broken web links.Perhaps Charles or Anita could explain how to access all this great information. I would love to know because I really need it.

      • Hi Red Dog,

        SBDCs are much more about in person consultations, than about being a self-serve website. And given the difficulty of discovering the information applicable to business licensing, I think it will be next to impossible for any website to provide ALL license information for EVERY type of business in EVERY jurisdiction. With an SBDC, you at least have an informed person checking expressly for YOU.

        I believe there’s a place for both types of services. Some entrepreneurs will prefer a self-serve website. And some will prefer a personalized consultation approach.

        – Anita

      • Hi Red Dog!

        Here in South Carolina, we utilize a state web site which covers all licenses for all businesses through the SC Secretary of State’s Office. All on line and at reasonable fees, too. That may not be the case in Calif. Your best bet is to ask a consultant who has experience in your type start-up business and get the best answers straight from them! Here is one web site: Depending on where you are located, this could work well!

  2. Love this idea. $10 is a great value for all the time SMBs will be able to save.

  3. I interested in information of SBDCs Im tryin to find out what I neeed to start a agency for models for management.

    • I would check with your state SBDC organization, usually housed in a major educational university or college. You can contact, which is the US Association of Small Business Development Centers to find your local / state organization. If all else fails, email me and I will guide you to yours!

  4. This site is fantastic – it helped me so much when I was starting my business by letting me know what I needed to do to get licensed, kept me on task with friendly reminders, and now keeps me up-to-date on my tax and renewal responsibilities:

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