A business license in California is basically an annual tax required to conduct business within a specific city. Business licenses must be obtained in any town you conduct business in, and that will be where you pay whatever fees are owed. Any individual who conducts any type of business in California, even home-based businesses such as e-commerce, must obtain a business license to avoid citations or fees.
When you apply for a business license you will need to list a business name on the application. If your business name does not include your personal name, you must also file a DBA, which stands for "doing business as," or a fictitious name permit. State law requires that you publish a statement in the general circulation of the local newspaper for four consecutive weeks to announce the DBA to the public. This must be started within the first 30 days of business.
Applications vary from city to city, but they essentially require your personal information such as the name and Social Security number of every listed owner. Contact names and mailing addresses are also required. Define the type of business for which you're applying and whether it's a sole proprietorship or a corporation. If you have incorporated your business, a list of officers will also be required, as will a federal tax ID number.
Generally, once you have submitted an application and paid the fees, you will be issued a business license. Online services can assist you through the application process, or you can fill it out and submit it in person in the city where you will be conducting your business. You will be required to have a business license for any city where you have a physical presence, no matter where the corporation is located. Your license will then be valid for a calendar year from the date you apply to the following January, when the license will need to be renewed and fees paid once more.
Other business forms may be required depending on your type of business. This includes a certificate of occupancy for those who have a physical commercial or industrial location. A seller's permit is required for those who sell merchandise, as well as a State Board of Equalization sales tax account number. Be mindful that a license is generally required before conducting any business within the city limits of any municipality. Check with your city for its particular guidelines.
- register with cash image by elke peterson from Fotolia.com