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Business License California (Explained: All You Need To Know)

Looking for Business License California?

Do you need a license to do business in California?

How do you get your business license?

Keep reading as I have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you what is a California business license and how it works!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is Business License California

A business license in California refers to a “license” or “permit” issued by the state or local governments allowing you to operate a business conducting a specific type of activity.

Depending on which city, county, or area your business operates within the State of California, you may need a different type of business license.

For example, a business operating a brick-and-mortar store may need permits to allow commercial activity on its property.

The local government may require a business license for the business to put up things like signage or have a fire safety permit.

Companies selling goods to their customers may require a seller’s permit allowing them to sell goods and collect taxes from their customers.

There are also some specific types of activities that require specific types of licenses like selling food, alcohol, tobacco, or others.

If you are looking to start a business in California or do business in the state of California, you’ll need to assess the nature of the business license that you may need to remain compliant with the laws.

How To Get A Business License In California

To get California state business licenses, you should assess which type of license your business may need.

Once you make that determination, you will then be in a position to identify the regulatory agency with whom you need to file your California business license application.

There are three main licensing jurisdictions in California:

  • State licensing 
  • Local licensing
  • Federal licensing 

Let’s look at each of these jurisdictions more closely.

California State Business License

The main permit that you will need on a state-wide level is the California seller’s permit.

You’ll need a CA seller’s permit if you are doing business in the state of California and you intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would be subject to sales tax if it were sold in a retail store.

You can apply for a California seller’s permit by visiting the Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

You should also consult the CalGold website to verify if you need a license for the specific type of business activity that you will be conducting.

If you are looking to operate a professional business, you may need to respect professional licensing requirements.

Be sure to visit the California business portal to ensure you get the necessary information on your California business professional licensing.

Local Government Business License

If you are operating your business in California, not only you will need to ensure you have the required state-level business licenses but you will most likely require a business license at the local level as well.

In most cases, small businesses and companies will need to get some form of a license at the county or city level.

Some of the most common local licenses and permits you may need in CA are:

  • Alarm Permit
  • Building Permit
  • Business License and/or Tax Permit
  • Health Permit
  • Occupational Permit
  • Signage Permit
  • Zoning Permit

To ensure that you are compliant with the California business licensing requirements at the local and county level, be sure to consult the CalGold website to get details on what license or permit you may need.

Federal Business License

In most cases, businesses will not require a federal license or permit.

However, if you are going to do business in very specific activities, you may need to get a federal business license even if you’re operating in California.

If you are going to do business in the following areas, be sure to contact the responsible federal agency to get information on your business license requirements:

  • Investment Advising – Securities and Exchange Commission 
  • Drug Manufacturing – Food and Drug Administration 
  • Preparation of meat products – Food and Drug Administration 
  • Broadcasting – Federal Communications Commission 
  • Ground transportation – Department of Transportation 
  • Selling alcohol, tobacco or firearms – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives 

How Much Is A Business License In California

If you are looking to get a seller’s permit in California, you will not have any business license California cost to assume.

On the other hand, other types of business licenses or permits may result in a fee.

The costs for the business licenses can vary by city or county so you’ll need to be sure to verify with the licensing agency to get more information.

When there’s a fee that you are required to pay, you may be asked to pay something between $50 to $100 to get your business license CA.

However, there are permits and licenses that can cost you more and will depend on the size of your business or the number of employees you have.

How To Apply For A Business License In California

You can apply for a business license in California by submitting an online application with the property licensing agency.

Let’s look at how you can apply for a business license in California.

California Seller’s Permit

If you need a seller’s permit in California, you will first need to go to ca.gov/services.

From there, you will need to select “Apply for Sellers Permit” as part of the list of services displayed to you.

This will bring you to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration.

From there, you can click on “Launch Service” to start the process of getting a business license in California.

CalGold For Other Permits

If you need other permits, you should go to the CalGold website in order to get more information on the type of business license or permit you may need by profession or by region.

Once you get on this CalGold website, you will be asked to enter a city or county along with your business type.

Once you enter the location and nature of your business, the search results will give you different types of business permits and licenses that you may need.

For example, a car wash business in the City of Albany may require a business tax certificate, land use permit, a seller’s permit, among other things.

Business Licence California FAQ

Let’s look at the most commonly asked questions relating to business license California.

What is a CA business license

A CA business license is a “permit” that is issued by the government to small businesses, companies, and individuals doing business in California.

Some business licenses are issued at the federal level, others at the state level, and others at the county or city level.

Depending on the nature of your business and where you will operate your business, you may need different types of licenses.

How to apply for business license California

To get a seller’s permit in California, you can go to the Department of Tax and Fee Administration to apply for your small business or company.

For other types of permits, you should go to the CalGold website and do a search.

Based on the location and nature of your business, you will get a list of different types of business permits or licenses you may need to get.

Can you get a business license California online

Yes, you can get many licenses and permits online.

For example, the most common type of business license companies will need in California is the seller’s permit.

You can apply for a seller’s permit online.

The larger cities and counties in California will likely have online services allowing you to apply for a permit or license.

Otherwise, most cities and counties publish their applications and forms on their website that you can download, complete, and mail to them.

Do I need a federal business license 

Most businesses will not need a federal business license.

However, if you going to do business in certain areas, you will need to get a federal business license.

The areas that are typically governed by the federal government are the following:

  • Agriculture industry
  • Alcohol and alcoholic beverages
  • Aviation industry 
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
  • Fish and wildlife
  • Commercial fisheries
  • Maritime transportation businesses
  • Mining and drilling businesses 
  • Nuclear energy
  • Radio and television broadcasting
  • Transportation and logistics operations 

What information do I need to apply for a business license in California

Depending on the type of permit or license you are getting, the information that you’ll be asked to provide can vary.

On the other hand, there are some pieces of information that you will be commonly asked to provide, such as:

  • Business Name
  • Business Address
  • Mailing Address 
  • Phone Number
  • Type of Business (LLC, Corporation, Partnership, or Sole Proprietor)
  • Federal Tax ID Number (Employer Identification Number or EIN) 
  • Sellers Permit Number (If you sell goods in California you will need this before getting a business license)
  • Each individual owner’s name, address and phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Type of Business to be conducted
  • Number of Employees
  • Expected Annual Sales

How do I get a business license in California

Here is a step-by-step guide on what you should do to get a business license in California.

  • Step 1: Get your business information
  • Step 2: Go to California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (CalGold)
  • Step 3: Get your City or County’s instructions on how to get your business license
  • Step 4: Complete your business license application
  • Step 5: Submit your application and pay any relevant fees
  • Step 6: Get your business license within approximately 45 days 

California Business License Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

Do you need a business license in California?

How do you get one?

In short, you will surely need a California business license no matter what type of business you consider operating in the state.

If you operate a small business, retail business, home-based business, online business, brick-and-mortar business, or other, you should make sure you get the proper licenses and permits from the State of California, Cities, or Counties to ensure you are compliant.

In most cases, you will need to get a business license for your company such as a small business license California, vendor license California, retail license California, home-business permit California, or other types of licenses.

It’s important that you do your research to ensure that you get all the required permits and licenses to do business in California.

The good news is that getting business licenses in California is relatively easy as most of the larger Cities offer you an online platform to submit your application.

In some unincorporated areas of the state and counties, you may need to submit your application by completing a document and sending it to the local government agencies by mail.

I hope that I was able to answer your questions on what is a California business license, how to obtain a business license in California, and how it works.

If you have a specific issue or need advice on what type of business license you need, be sure to consult with a business attorney or expert.

This article is intended to give you general information to get you started in your research.

Good luck!

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Now, let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Business License California Overview

  • Companies, sole proprietors, partnerships, limited liability companies, or anyone doing business in California should make sure that they obtain the proper business license to remain compliant with the local laws
  • Every city and county may have its own business licensing requirements 
  • You can get a seller’s permit by going to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (cdtfa.ca.gov) and for other permits to the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (CalGold.ca.gov)
  • Applying for a business license in California is quite simple as it can be done online for most larger Cities (smaller cities and unincorporated areas of the state may require paper applications to be sent to them)
Biennial report
Business bank account 
Business credit card 
Business insurance
Business tax certificate 
Fictitious business name statement 
General business license
How to start a business in California 
Intangible personal property 
Operating agreement 
Professional licensing 
Registered agent
Seller’s permit
Small business loan 
Statement of Information
Tangible personal property
What is a manufacturer
What is a retailer
What is a wholesaler
Author
Articles of organization
Business endorsement 
Business incorporation 
C corporation
Foreign qualification 
How to incorporate a company
Letter of good standing
Resale certificate 
S corporation 
Secretary of State
Tax exemption certificate 
Tax ID number
What is a DBA
What is a general partnership 
What is a limited liability partnership 
What is a NAICS code
What is a nonprofit corporation
What is a sole proprietorship
What is a trademark 
What is an LLC
What is EIN
What is sales tax
What is use tax
Author
Editorial Staff
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer by trade and an entrepreneur by spirit. I specialize in law, business, marketing, and technology (and love it!). I'm an expert SEO and content marketer where I deeply enjoy writing content in highly competitive fields. On this blog, I share my experiences, knowledge, and provide you with golden nuggets of useful information. Enjoy!

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