A department of licensing is a governmental agency that issues licenses, or official permissions, to individuals and businesses. In many cases, a department of licensing has the authority to approve applications for licensing and in some cases suspend or revoke licenses or even hold administrative hearings for license suspension or revocation. Licenses that may be issued by these agencies include driver's licenses, business licenses, and professional licenses.
In many places, there are several departments of licensing, each with a particular focus. For example, it is not unusual for a jurisdiction to have a department of licensing that issues driver's licenses and then several other departments that license professionals, tradespeople, and various types of businesses. In some cases, businesses must work with more than one department of licensing in order to operate. For example, a restaurant may need to hold both a business license as well as a liquor license if it wants to serve liquor to its customers. Each license may be issued by a different department with its own staff and regulations, and typically a business owner must pay a separate fee for each license.
Many countries require drivers to be licensed before operating an automobile on public roads and may also require vehicle licensing. In many cases, there is one department of licensing for both drivers and vehicles. This department of licensing typically takes responsibility for evaluating the ability of an individual to safely drive a car and may also evaluate the safety of vehicles. The department may require that both drivers and vehicles undergo regular testing, with drivers being required to pass a written and in some cases a driving exam in order to renew their licenses. Automobiles, on the other hand, may have to pass emissions testing to remain legally drivable.
In places where trades and professions are licensed, a department of licensing may be established for the purpose of evaluating applications for licensure and in monitoring the behavior of individuals who hold professional or trade licenses. In some cases, the law grants a department of licensing significant powers in determining the process by which a tradesperson or professional can gain a license. The department may also be responsible for ensuring that individuals who hold a license are practicing their trade or profession with integrity. Likewise, the department may be authorized to conduct investigations into unprofessional behavior and may be able to suspend the licenses of tradespeople and professionals who commit malpractice or violate professional ethics.