San Francisco, California business licenses

Identify the licenses, permits, and how many you need to start or grow your business in San Francisco.  

Make finding and applying for business licenses less complicated

Getting the right business license is crucial to starting your company on the right foot. But identifying and applying for licenses can be confusing and complicated. Business Licenses by Avalara helps make it easier.

what we do:

  • Help find licenses you may need when opening or expanding a business or meeting new license requirements
  • Simplify and streamline the application process
  • Prepare signature-ready applications (with Avalara License Preparation product)

Avalara License Guidance $99 

Learn license requirements, find applications, and get help submitting them.

Avalara License Filing, starting at $499 per location 

Let our business license experts prepare your applications for you.

Know why you need licenses and permits in San Francisco

Some industries are highly regulated and can require many licenses. These regulations are often in place to help protect both your business and the community. Discover why licenses and permits are so important for these industries in San Francisco.


Considerations when acquiring licenses/permits for construction in San Francisco.


Considerations when acquiring licenses/permits for construction in San Francisco.

Many construction jobs require some kind of building permit to get started in San Francisco. You may be surprised by the construction jobs that require permits in San Francisco. A minor remodeling job without the right permit in San Francisco could land your business in major trouble. Always check with your local authorities before you begin construction to see if you need a building permit.

There are often environmental considerations when operating a construction business in San Francisco. Waste and debris from construction sites can sometimes impact local ecosystems and waterways. Be sure to check for your local licenses in San Francisco as well as any federal licenses or permits you may need.

Construction sites can be potentially dangerous places. Due to the inherent hazards that come with some jobs, there may be safety permits required to operate your construction business in San Francisco. Safe work permits are frequently required by OSHA in addition to any local construction permits in San Francisco.


Considerations when acquiring licenses/permits for restaurants in San Francisco.


Considerations when acquiring licenses/permits for restaurants  in San Francisco.

You’ll likely need a business license to open a cafe or restaurant in San Francisco. This is in addition to any other local or state licenses that may be required in San Francisco.

On top of your business license, you may need a food service license for your restaurant in San Francisco. These licenses are often issued by the health department in your area. After you’ve gotten your food service license in San Francisco, the health department will start making inspections of your business.

If your cafe or restaurant in San Francisco serves any kind of beer, wine, cider, or spirits, you’re likely going to need some type of beverage alcohol license. Your San Francisco cafe or restaurant may require a general license for all types of alcoholic beverages, or a license just for beer and wine. Decide what drinks your business plans to sell, and learn the licenses you need to maintain compliance.


There are many regulations a freight and cargo transportation 
business might need to comply with in San Francisco.


Considerations when acquiring business licenses/permits for freight and cargo transportation in San Francisco.

Depending on what you do, you may need a freight forwarder license to operate a freight transportation business in San Francisco. This license allows businesses to manage transportation for third-party cargo. This license is often handled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but you should see if additional licenses or permits are required in San Francisco.

While a freight forwarding license may be required for managing shipments in San Francisco, you might need a motor carrier permit if your business handles the actual shipping. There may be other permits and licenses necessary for freight carriers in San Francisco.

One big license you’ll likely need for your freight transportation business in San Francisco is a commercial driver’s license, or CDL. A CDL is required not only for drivers in San Francisco, but for all commercial drivers across the U.S.


See where you might owe sales tax

Need to know where and when you owe sales tax? Get a free Economic Nexus Risk Assessment and learn your sales tax obligations.

Learn more about business licenses

Looking for answers to your business license questions? Connect with a tax solution specialist at Avalara today.

Learn more about business licenses

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