How do I get a Business License?

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We know that the process of getting all the correct licenses, permits and certificates can be confusing. As part of our continued effort to reduce this confusion, we have included quick links to licenses and permits as well as answers to some common questions below. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Economic Development Manager, if you have any questions throughout this process.


Business License Applications - Quick Links

Business License Application
Home Occupation Permit Form
Homestay Permit
Business License Renewal - Online Payment

Verification Program Fact Sheet


Common Questions

Who needs to apply for a Business License?

All persons or companies conducting business within the City limits of San Luis Obispo are required to obtain a city business license. This includes but is not limited to retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, service providers, professionals, independent contractors, home businesses and commercial and residential property landlords. For information concerning exceptions, please refer to our exceptions page.

When should an application be submitted?

An application must be submitted and fees must be paid prior to commencement of business operations.

Where can I apply for a business license?

Applications are available at the Finance and Community Development Departments or can be downloaded here. If your business is located within the city limits of San Luis Obispo, submit your application and fees to the Community Development Department. If your business is located outside the city limits of San Luis Obispo, your application can be submitted to the Community Development or Finance Department.

Finance Department

990 Palm St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-781-7134

bt@slocity.org

Community Development Department

919 Palm St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-781-7170

                                           

What are the requirements for a Homestay permit?

The Homestay Permit has specific requirements for obtaining a business license, including payment of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), owner occupancy, maximum number of guests, parking, designating a responsible party and limitation of use of accessory structures. See the "Permits for Homeowners and Renters page" for details.

What businesses require additional permits?
  • Massage Therapist - Contact the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department prior to applying for a business license.
  • Mobile Food Vendor - Contact the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department prior to applying for a business license.
  • Home-based business within the city limits of San Luis Obispo - You must also apply for a Home Occupation Permit.

How much is the application fee?

Business Locations within the limits  of the City of San Luis Obispo but not located in the Downtown Business Improvement District

**Except rental property and independent contractors

184.29

Rental Properties and Independent Contractors not located within the Downtown Business

Improvement District

$80.41

Business Locations within the Downtown Business Improvement District

**Except rental property and independent contractors

$334.29

Rental Property and Independent Contractors within the Downtown Business Improvement District

$230.41

Home-based businesses located within the city limits of San Luis Obispo

$218.59

Business locations outside the city limits of San Luis Obispo

$80.41

  

What is the Downtown Business Improvement District?

The Downtown Business Improvement District was formed in 1975 to promote economic vitality in the heart of the downtown area. An assessment is imposed on every business in the area and is collected with the business license application fee and annually with the business license renewal fee. The revenue collected from this assessment is allocated only to programs that benefit downtown businesses. The City contracts with the Downtown Association to provide services funded by this assessment. 

Click the following links for the Business Improvement District area map and address list:

Map
Address List

Downtown Association
1108 Garden St
Suite 210
805-541-0286

 

When do I renew my business license?

All business license renewals are due and payable on July 1st of each year and become delinquent on July 31st of each year. All renewing businesses must submit the renewal form, provided by the Finance Department, stating the gross receipts earned the preceding calendar year. 

How much does it cost to renew my business license?

These are the separate components of the business license fees: business tax, business license, downtown assessment and State CASP fee.

The business tax is measured by gross receipts from the preceding completed fiscal year. The tax for all businesses is fifty cents per thousand dollars of gross receipts; with a minimum of $25.00.

The business license is a flat $47 fee for all businesses.

The downtown assessment is charged only to businesses located within the Downtown Business Improvement District. The assessment is fifty-five cents per thousand dollars of gross receipts; with a minimum amount of $150.00.

The State CASp fee is $1.00. It is a State mandated fee assessed to increase disability access in businesses. The fee is used to educate City staff and businesses about federal and state disability access laws.

Additional fees may also apply if your business has changed location within the city limits. Please call the Community Development Department at 805-781-7170 for more details.