OpenICON2011Business Licensing

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. 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, annual business license fee is now $100.

View Ordinance

Application Process

The City of Fort Smith welcomes businesses of all shapes and sizes, 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 business application.

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION: business application.

Once this is filled out, it will need to be turned in to the Planning & Zoning department where the application will be reviewed and distributed to appropriate departments as needed for additional reviews. Additional licenses, permits, and/or fees may be required depending on the nature of the business.

Upon completion, all paperwork is returned to the Business License Specialist in the Planning Department where the application is finalized. The Business License Specialist is able to provide assistance as you go through all steps in obtaining a business license.

Renewal Process

Business licenses are required to be renewed annually. Business license renewals are sent via mail. The renewal forms should be completed and returned along with payment of fees 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.

Effective 2018, business licenses require an annual $100 fee. Please note, the City of Fort Smith Board of Directors has temporarily elected to waive the first year $100 fee for new businesses (see Ord 78-17). This waiver may be reversed at any time in the future by Board vote.


Businesses that Require a Fort Smith Business License Business License

  • 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 residential units or 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)

  • Businesses that require a state or federal license

  • Businesses that require a sales or use tax permit or collect any type of tax

  • Businesses that are incorporated or a non-profit, sole proprietor, or an association

  • Businesses owned or operated by someone under the age of 18

  • Government entities

  • Home-based businesses

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 if you have any questions related to the Business License Program.


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.

Please note: if a doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc. is considered to be self-employed, they ARE required to obtain a business license.

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.
If you receive a 1099 from your employer at year end, you likely DO need a separate business license.

Most realtors are designated self-employed and receive 1099’s at year end, and therefore, need individual business licenses.

If you have any questions about these designations, please email: