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Obtaining a Business License in California

There are many great opportunities ready for entrepreneurs looking to carve out a slice of heaven and profitable ventures in the state of California. But, getting a business license in California requires meeting all state and municipal regulations and this has been a challenge in the past.

The good news is that the Business and Economic Development department of the Governor of California’s office has been seeking more ways to boost business. They have created and provided a virtual clearinghouse of business incentives and copious information on how businesses can be started or relocated in California.


California Business License

Dubbed the “Go-Biz” office, this department has also created an interactive map that allows new businesses and entrepreneurs to find the resources and information they need. The Office of Small Business Advocate (OSBA) can provide further supplemental help with all the specific help start-ups need. Because of the great diversity of California Businesses, there will be many individual things to consider in the kind of business you are planning on opening, depending on the industry, location, or type of business. You can begin your search by looking over the information below.

General Business Licenses

Anyone looking to open a business must begin by taking out a license in the city in which they are hoping to operate. In some cities in California, this may be referred to as a business tax certificate. Those businesses that will be opened in unincorporated areas of California will have to take out their license or certification based on the county they are in.

If you will be opening a business that has multiple locations there is a good chance you will be required to take out a license or certification for each location. For example, if you will be opening a business with separate locations in San Diego and Fresno, you will be required to take out a business tax certificate in San Diego and a business license in Fresno. Depending on the jurisdiction in the area in question, you may be able to request your certification or license online, in person, or through the mail

As expected, there is a cost for this license. This could be in the form of a flat rate, a percentage of gross sales, or a combination of these factors depending on the location and field of your business. You will also be asked to provide the licensing authority with the owner’s and businesses’ names and addresses. Other information that will be important to include will be federal tax ID numbers. Business type and structure, contact information, projected annual sales, and a number of employees.

Specific Licensing for Regulated Professions and Industries

In addition to the general business licenses, there may be certain situations in which your company will have to comply with other licensing or environmental and regulatory mandates. The CalGold Business Permit Assistance is a considerable aid in this aspect and provides all the information you will need for this.

If you will be selling or leasing merchandise in California, a Seller’s Permit will be needed and you can apply for one of these online. Furthermore, you must look into all the other details for which you will have to register including but not limited to the type of business or entity you will be starting up with the California Secretary of State’s office.

Fictitious Business Name Statement

You can use a fictitious name, or use a “Doing Business As” if you choose to run your operations under a name other than the actual name. All that is required is that you apply for registration under the name your company will operate under. You can find more information about this at the California State Association of Counties.

Additional Resources