How to Search for a Business License in the City of Los Angeles

As a small-business owner, making sure your legal ducks are in a row is vital to the success of your company. One of those legal ducks involves making sure you have secured the proper business licenses and that they are searchable online. When you apply for a business bank account or insurance or partner with other businesses, they might look up your business before offering services to you. If your license is not listed, this can cause problems or even result in service or coverage denial.

City of Los Angeles Business License Search

Business licenses for the city of Los Angeles are issued by Los Angeles County. To conduct a L.A. County business license search, head to the County of Los Angeles Treasurer and Tax Collector website. It offers an online search function once you agree to the terms of service. You can search using any of the following criteria:

  • Business ID number
  • Business name
  • Address
  • Business owner name
  • Business type

The search results will show the business ID number, name, business type, owner name, address, city, ZIP code and license expiration date.

Register for a Tax Certificate

In the city of Los Angeles, you must register for a tax certificate and pay appropriate taxes in order to avoid penalties and fines. To apply, you will need to navigate to the City of Los Angeles Office of Finance website and provide your federal employer identification number or Social Security number. You will also need to supply basic information about your business activities as well as your address and other contact information.

After you apply for your tax registration certificate, you will receive a confirmation email to serve as proof until you receive your official certificate. If you lose your tax certificate and need to conduct a business tax certificate lookup, try checking your email to find the original proof of application sent to you or head to the City of Los Angeles Office of Finance, provide basic business information and secure a new copy.

501(c)(3) Nonprofit Status Lookup

In addition to maintaining a license with Los Angeles County, many nonprofit organizations apply for and receive 501(c)(3) designation from the IRS. If you are applying for grants, they will want to verify that you are actually a nonprofit organization. You can share your organization's determination letter for proof or search for your nonprofit's information on the IRS tax-exempt organization search page.

Similar to conducting a business license lookup, you can search by EIN or organization name. Entering your city, state and ZIP code can help narrow down the search results as well. Your listing will include the following useful information:

  • EIN
  • Copy of your determination letter
  • Publication 78 data
  • Tax filing records

Liquor License Lookup

If you serve liquor as part of your business, it's vital to maintain a current liquor license and to abide by strict carding policies. While your general business license is listed on the Los Angeles County website, liquor licenses are maintained by the state. Head to the website for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, where you'll be able to conduct a search by license number, licensee name, address or business name. On the search results page, you'll see the following information listed:

  • License number
  • Licensee number
  • Business name
  • Address
  • Status

When you click on a listing, you'll be able to see more details, including company information, caterer permit information and dates specific to the liquor license.

Fixing License Information

Because Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, the state of California and the IRS maintain a large volume of business information, sometimes you might discover errors in your entries. It is smart to maintain certified copies of all documents you submit so that you can have errors fixed without additional cost to you.

Simply contact the department that made the error and ask about any paperwork. If errors are due to a mistake on your part rather than a data-entry error, you might need to pay a fee to correct the listing information.


About the Author

Anne Kinsey is an entrepreneur and business pioneer, who has ranked in the top 1% of the direct sales industry, growing a large team and earning the title of Senior Team Manager during her time with Jamberry. She is the nonprofit founder and executive director of Love Powered Life, as well as a Certified Trauma Recovery Coach, certified HRV biofeedback practitioner and freelance writer who has written for publications like Working Mother, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Houston Chronicle and Our Everyday Life. Anne works from her home office in rural North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three children.