How to Get a Money Transmitter License: A Step-by-Step Guide

The definition of money transmitter varies between states. However, if your business engages in any type of money services – and also meets more than one of the criteria below – there’s a high chance you’ll need a money transmitter license.
General criteria:

  • You issue or sell payment instruments or stored value.

  • Your business acts as a financial intermediary, and it’s neither originator or beneficiary of money or monetary value transactions.

  • You can apply fees for processing transmissions or transmitting money within the country or abroad.

  • Money may transverse through your company’s bank account as part of the transaction process.

Each state follows their own unique licensing process. Even within a state, requirements can vary across different municipalities. However, the general steps a new license applicant must go through are very similar.
Additional information about all state license regulators is available at the end of the article.
Note: Due to the high number of Money Transmitter businesses in some areas, we’ve also created comprehensive guides for the following states:
Step #1: Access Money Transmitter Application Forms and Related Documents
Oftentimes you can access a complete application packet, which includes a list of requirements, either from the state license regulator’s website or the relevant licensing agency. For a list of all regulators, see the “State License Regulators” section.
Step #2: Fulfill Requirements and Complete Required Documents
Most of the time, you must complete your application and all related documents before continuing with the next steps on this list. Some states may also have certain prerequisites for licensure (eg. FinCEN registration) that need to be completed prior to the application process.
Most states include a requirements list you need to follow. Some required documents are included in the application packet. If that isn’t the case, you’ll receive instructions on how to obtain them.
Step #3: Obtain Your Money Transmitter Bond
Almost all states require a surety bond to be submitted with your application. A money transmitter bond protects your clients by ensuring that you follow the regulations set by your state. You'll want to be sure you get your bond from a money transmitter license bond expert to avoid any headaches or delays.
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Step #4: License Fees
Licensing fees can vary a great deal across the country. Most states require applicants to pay an application and/or registration fee, but a number of other additional fees may also apply. Some must be paid prior to submitting your application, while others may be paid at a later point in time (or whenever your business opens a new location).
Step #5: Submit Your Money Transmitter License Application
Many states have adopted electronic document management systems, though certain documents may still need to be filed via regular mail service. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the license regulator.
Step #6: Receive Your Money Transmitter License
Once the required information has been submitted, your application will be reviewed by the state. Upon approval, the license will be sent to the address you’ve provided. The process may take a few weeks.

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State License Regulators:
As noted previously, licensing is regulated on a state level and requirements can differ across states. In most states, new Money Transmitter license applications are managed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS).
Here’s a list of state-level regulators and governmental agencies involved in managing the licensing and registration of new Money Transmitter businesses. Note that some of the links might be outdated due to recent changes in the application or license management process.