California business licenses

Your easy way to find California business licenses

What should I know about business licenses in California?

California is the most populous state in America and one of the biggest headaches for business owners who need to obtain a business license. There are more food establishment permits issued in the state than there are people living in most U.S. territories.

A California business license is standard in The Golden State, but it may only be the beginning. In addition to navigating the requirements for how to get a business license in California, a Qualified Purchasers Tax is also required for many businesses, especially if their gross profits exceed $100,000. The unique requirements may vary from one location to another and it often takes time to unwind the complex rules.

This may be especially true of independent contractors. They have additional challenges since nearly every city in the state requires contractor licenses for anybody performing work within their city limits. This is true for nearly every type of contract work, regardless of complexity. The takeaway is simple; do your research with a company that understands the intricacies of California business licenses.


How many business licenses do you need?

The number of business licenses you need in California depends on a number of unique factors.

These factors include...

  • Within which city/county will you operate your business? 
  • What business activities will you be conducting? 
  • How heavily regulated is your industry? Etc. 

To put it in perspective, we ran the following queries through our own business license research tool. Here are some authentic results:

This may include a local Los Angeles pet shop license. That license will require an Application for a Permit.

This may include a state-specific California insurance license. There are more than 30 forms and documents that are likely required to obtain this license, including an Action Notice of Appointment Application, an Application for Branch Office Certificate, an Application for License to Act as an Underwritten Title Company, a Background Information Change Disclosure Form, a Bond of Insurance Broker, a Business Entity Endorsement, an Insurance Individual License Application, a Name Approval Request Form, and a Uniform Application for Individual Producer License Registration.

This may include a county-specific Fresno food establishment permit. That permit could require a business owner to review more than 10 documents and forms, including a Bottled Water Distributor License Application, a Cold Storage or Refrigeration Facility License Application, a Commodity Codes Sheet, a Food Safety Fee Exemption Request, a Frozen Food Locker Plant License Application, an Organic Processed Product Registration Application, a Shellfish Handling and Marketing Certificate Application, and a Water Vending Machine Operator License Application.

Common California business license questions

See a few of the most common California business license questions, and what you need to know about starting your business in the Golden State.

The state of California has the largest economy in the United States. It’s no wonder so many people want to start businesses there! All business owners in California need to obtain a general business license in the city where they’re located.

The type of business you open may impact how many licenses, permits, and certificates you need. Check with the state and your jurisdiction to discover which licenses are required for your business.

Cities are often the ones that administer licenses in California. That’s why the cost of a business license can vary from place to place. In Yorba Linda, California, a contractor has a business license fee starting at $100 while the license fee for a retail store can be as low as $25. Check with your city for a more exact number.

First, you must determine if your business needs any licenses or permits to operate in California; there’s a good chance that it might. Once you have determined the required licenses, you can apply for many of your licenses and permits online. Still, contacting individual cities and counties can be time-consuming. Avalara can help streamline your business license process.

Licensing information for California cities

Learn more about business licenses

Connect with Avalara to learn more about the licenses your business may require.

Learn more about business licenses

Connect with Avalara to learn more about the licenses your business may require.