California Business License

You can obtain a California business license online.

We provide the information and resources you'll need to get federal, state, and local licenses and permits for your small business, including the seller’s permit.

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How to Get a Business License in CA

You can get a business license online by applying with the correct licensing or regulatory agency for your business.

Business licensing requirements generally depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).

There are three main licensing jurisdictions:

  • State
  • Local
  • Federal

State of California Business Licensing

The main state-level permit or license in California is the seller’s permit.

You must obtain a seller's permit if you:

  • Are engaged in business in California
  • Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail.

Visit the Department of Tax and Fee Administration to obtain a seller’s permit.

Additionally, businesses in certain professions or industries need specific licenses or permits. The CalGold website will tell you which licenses and permits your business needs. The California Business Portal also provides information on professional licensing.

Local California Business Licensing

In California, most businesses need to obtain a business license at the county or city level for tax purposes. An exception to this is some unincorporated areas of counties.

In addition, you may need other licenses or permits from your local government depending on your business activity or location.

If your business has locations in multiple cities or counties, then you may need a business license in your primary location and a business tax certificate in any other counties where you do business.

The CalGold website will tell you which types of licenses and permits you need depending on your location.

Steps for Obtaining a Business License in California

California Seller’s Permit

You can register for a California seller’s permit online. You will need to create an account to log in to the website.

Apply for a California Seller’s Permit

Apply Online With the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

Apply Online

Fee: None

Other California Business Licenses

The processes for getting other California licenses and permits vary by profession and region. The CalGold website provides contact information for the relevant state and local government offices.

Renewal

The California seller’s permit does not need to be renewed. Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements of any other license or permit your business may have.

Federal Business Licenses and Permits

You can get a business license by applying with the correct licensing and regulatory agency for your business. Business licensing requirements depend on your business’s activity and location (zoning requirements).

If your business conducts activities that are regulated by the federal government, you will need to apply for the appropriate business license or permit.

Choose a business activity below to learn how to apply:

Agriculture
Alcoholic beverages
Aviation
Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
Fish and wildlife
Commercial fisheries
Maritime transportation
Mining and drilling
Nuclear energy
Radio and television broadcasting
Transportation and logistics

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CA Business License FAQ

What is a business license?

A business license is a permit issued to businesses by a government office that allows the business to operate in a particular area. They can be issued by federal, state, or local governments. There are typically different licensing requirements for different businesses and different locations.

What are the types of business licenses?

There are many types of business licenses. These include licenses at the local, state, and federal levels, licenses related to sales tax and other taxes, and specific licenses for various professions. There are also environmental licenses, zoning permits, and more.

Is there a national business license?

Most businesses don’t need a federal business license, but some industries, including broadcasting, investment advising, and drug manufacturing, do have federal regulations and licenses.

Is an EIN the same as a business license?

No. An employer identification number (EIN) is issued by the IRS to identify and keep track of businesses, but it does not license them to operate.

Is an LLC considered a business license?

No. An LLC is a type of business structure. While you are required to register as an LLC, it is not a business license.

What licenses do I need to open a business in California?

Most businesses will need some sort of California business license. Most California counties and cities require businesses to have a local license, and many businesses will need a seller’s permit.

What is a seller’s permit?

A seller’s permit is the common name for a license or permit that allows you to sell products or services.

How much does a California business license cost?

There is no registration fee for a California seller’s permit. The cost of other licenses or permits varies.

How do I get a California business license?

You can register for a California seller’s permit online with the Department of Tax and Fee Administration. To get a local business license, contact your local government office.

Do I have to renew my California business license?

The California seller’s permit does not need to be renewed. Check with the relevant state or local government office for the renewal requirements of any other license or permit your business may have.

California Business Resources

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