No matter what type of business you operate, you need a California city business license. This applies even to home based business, large businesses, non-profits, and businesses who don't make much money. There is no California state business license, but every business must obtain a city business license.
How do I get a California Business License?
Generally, there are two ways to get a California general city business license: directly through the city, or through a professional processor.
Filing for a license directly through the city generally involves a number of steps: 1) Calling the city Business Registration department to obtain license paperwork and an application 2) Printing and filling out these documents (which are often very confusing!) 3) Mailing these documents to the city with a cashiers check 4) Approval/processing period 5) Potentially correcting and re-submitting the application depending on city approval. Most cities in California do not have a streamlined or updated license application system, so this is generally a hassle filled, confusing process.
Filing for a California business license through a professional processor is generally quite simple, and will come with a small fee. By using a professional processor, you can avoid tracking down city paperwork, and you can avoid the potential for a license to be rejected. If you would like us to set up your business license, click here.
What is the difference between a business license, a DBA, and incorporating?
If you Google "Business License", you'll see ads for services to set up a DBA, or incorporate your business. Getting a DBA or incorporating is not the same as getting a business license. In California, getting a business license is required by every city. However, getting a DBA or incorporating is not required.
How long is a business license valid?
In general, a business license is valid for 1 year. If a business does not renew a license on time, this can result in a hefty fine, and even a bank levy. To help our customers avoid this situation, we send renewal reminders via email when the time comes.