Business Broker Licensing – What you need to know

June 5, 2024

A sign with the word "licensing" on i9t
In todays world of buying and selling businesses, the role of a business broker is crucial. Business brokers act as intermediaries, helping buyers and sellers navigate the often complex process of a business transactions. However, the requirements for business brokers vary significantly from state to state, with some states mandating specific licensing while others do not. This disparity can lead to potential risks for business owners who might unknowingly engage an unlicensed broker to help sell their business.

Licensing Requirements: Florida and Beyond

In Florida, business brokers are required to hold a real estate license. This stipulation ensures that brokers possess a certain level of expertise and adhere to professional standards set by the state’s regulatory authorities. Practicing real estate without a license in Florida is a serious offense, classified as a third-degree felony. This can result in fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.

The necessity for a real estate license for business brokers in Florida is designed to protect both parties involved in a business transaction. An unlicensed broker may not only lack the necessary knowledge and skills but also pose a significant legal risk. If a deal facilitated by an unlicensed broker goes sour, courts have the authority to unwind the transaction. This could result in the seller being forced to repay all proceeds from the sale, causing substantial financial harm.

Given these risks, it is imperative for business owners to verify the licensing of any broker offering their services. In Florida, this can be easily done through the state’s licensing portal at

States Requiring Business Broker Licensing

While Florida is a prominent example, several other states also mandate that business brokers be licensed by the state’s real estate regulatory agency. The following is a list of states with such requirements, though this list is subject to change. It is always advisable for individuals to confirm current regulations with local authorities:

License States

– Alaska

– Arizona

– California

– Colorado

– Florida

– Georgia

– Idaho

– Illinois

– Michigan

– Minnesota

– Nebraska

– Nevada

– Oregon

– South Dakota

– Utah

– Wisconsin

– Wyoming

While a license may not be required to sell a business in other states, it will still be required to sell commercial real estate if it is included in the deal.

The Risks of Unlicensed Brokers

The trend of out-of-state companies styling themselves as “business brokers” or “M&A advisors” and taking listings in states that requiring licensing is a growing trend. In Florida the Association representing Business Brokers, the BBF has taken the lead in reporting unlicensed activity. Unlicensed actors offer their services without the necessary regulatory oversight, which can lead to significant issues for both buyers and sellers. Without proper licensing, these brokers are not held to the standards and ethical guidelines mandated by state regulatory bodies.

For business owners, engaging with an unlicensed broker can lead to disastrous outcomes. One way to ensure that you are working with a reputable Broker is to ask if they below to the International Business Brokers Association (IBBA) or in Florida the Business Brokers of Florida (BBF).


Business owners are well-advised to thoroughly check the licensing status of any broker they consider engaging for the sale of their business. The legal and financial stakes are high, and the consequences of using an unlicensed broker can be dire. By ensuring that their broker is properly licensed, business owners can protect themselves and ensure a smoother, more secure transaction process.

In states like Florida, where the licensing requirement is stringent, verifying a broker’s license is straightforward and can save considerable trouble in the long run. Always check with your state’s real estate regulatory agency to confirm the current licensing requirements and ensure your broker is in good standing.

The author Anthony John Rigney is the owner and Broker of record for Quorum Business Advisors. Anthony and Quorum are properly licensed in the State of Florida.