Poll: Register Your Business on Base or Get the Boot

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You’re living the dream and have a business based out of your on-base housing. Maybe you do direct sales. Maybe you’re a photographer. Maybe you are a self-employed freelancer. And you’re in the clear, because you registered your business with your housing office and got the base-level OK for your hustle.

Wait, what?

Many military spouses who run businesses out of their on-base homes have absolutely no idea that they are supposed to register their business with the powers that be.

… Or that if you do, they might order you to shut down.

Here’s the deal: while every base and housing company has its own rules and regulations about what can and can’t be done as a business in housing, most of them require that you get the housing company’s blessing. For example, at Fort Campbell only breeding and selling animals is specifically prohibited, but at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii they prohibit any type of salon or sale of food made in your home (a bummer if you like to make and sell cakes, for example). The only rule that seems to be universally followed across bases is for in-home childcare: if you are going to provide it, you must be registered with the base.

Here are the rules about operating small businesses out of on-base stateside housing. (We know things get a lot more complicated if you’re overseas, and we’re working on a how-to guide for that.)

But the bigger problem is this: your business could be banned from operating on base if it is competition with anything the Exchange or MWR does or could offer. Exchange officials are able to give the final “yes” or “no” to home-based businesses. And while there is a way for the base commander to override that decision, it’s not likely.

Registering childcare makes a lot of sense from a health and safety perspective. So does banning purposeful animal breeding. But forcing spouses to register their Pampered Chef business? Or small photography business? … only to risk being not allowed to run it? How much harm is your home photo studio really going to do to AFFES’ bottom line?

Tell us what you think: should in-home businesses in base housing be forced to register with base officials? Take our poll.

Fill out my online form.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Johnbright55

    All business should be registered. U r on a military base. All activities MUST be overseen and goveren. Even if you move off base you should be at least monitored. U do not know what is out there trying to perpertrat. There is perpetrators OUT there trying any way possible to gather info and intelligence on YOUR BASE.

  • Thatperson

    Each post is basically its own city/town. Were you out in civilian land legally you should be registering your home business with a city/town business license. What is in question here is both liability and taxation. Just because you live on post does not mean you should conduct business “under the table”.

  • Saavy

    I understand that it is important to keep tabs on commerce run by military dependents. Lets also keep in mind that many spouses use direct sales and multi level marketing as a social vehicle, as well as to earn a few extra coins.

    Direct sales companies, such as pampered chef, tastefully simple and Avon operate legally without the need for individual licensure. Lets not take theses away from milspouses.

  • BeSmart

    The reason you have to register the business is for the base to access the amount of liability, personal property and business pursuit insurance is needed. Is a matter of insurance.

  • Nelson

    Register and volunteer your skills when possible to The Family Support Center.

  • Cathy

    So a big deal is spouse employment opportunities, especially portable ones. Spouses decide to sell Avon or whatever since it is flexible and portable; perfect for military life. And then they get shut down because “it competes with AAFES. So, ok, military, which is it? Are you supporting military spouses trying to have a career or are you not?

    • anon

      clearly they don’t give any f’s…or it’s on you to have a real career, not just selling Scentsy/Avon/etc. that you have to suffer to achieve before you can be considered a success…smh.

  • Johnbright55

    Ha spouses, sorry it’s not about taxes,or spouses, its military and its security. That’s what it is (ALL) about. And if you push it, they WILL take away more from you. I believe in free enterprise. By all means go for it. There’s only one thing better than making extra cash. And that is, it costing nothing. Free is the best. But being free, it cost. It’s not free. And you are free to do what you want in this country. Payed by the American taxpayers, fought for by your spouses, the military and the vets who stood before. Find a business that will work with your base station. And you will be proud of what you are accomplishing. Working together makes you even stronger and makes our country stronger. The right way is never easier. God bless all you spouses.

    • anon

      “find a business that will work with your base station”…ha…ha ha…hahahaha show me anyone worth working for that does what you claim. easier said than done. Easy for someone who’s problem it isn’t to say…smh. you must be a troll.

  • Elyse

    Out in the civilian world, you’d have to register. Several years ago I ran private music lessons out of my home off base – clearly not competing with any business in the local village center, let alone the exchange – and I had to register with my HOA.

  • Out in the civilian world, you’d have to register. Several years ago I ran private music lessons out of my home off base – clearly not competing with any business in the local village center, let alone the exchange – and I had to register with my HOA.