Apply For A Business License San Francisco, California

I am planning to open a business in San Francisco, California. Where do I start?

In San Francisco, you will need to fill out and submit a business registration certificate application to operate your business. The business registration certificate applications are broken into two categories, the first being an application for a business ran by a sole proprietor, the second for the businesses which are owned as part of a corporation, an LLC, or a partnership. Both applications can be downloaded and printed from the City of San Francisco website, or, if you prefer, you can visit the Taxpayer Assistance Office at City Hall, room 140. City Hall is located at #1 Goodlett Place in San Francisco. 

What information is required on the Sole Proprietorship/Independent Contractor application?

The application for a sole proprietorship business registration certificate is a short document that will be filled out by those who are the single owner of their business. It requires information about your business, including information such as the location of your business property, the name of your business, a detailed description of your business activities, the phone and mailing address of your business, and an account recording of your business. Your contact information, as well as your first and last name is needed. If your business involves renting homes or commercial property, you will need to provide information on them including the addresses of each. An estimate of employees and payroll needs to be given. A signature on your application confirms that you have given is true and accurate. Your ownership type, though you are the sole proprietor, needs to be declared by stating whether you own your business as a single person, with your spouse or partner, or as the first part of an LLC.

What information is required on the Partnership, Corporation, and Limited Liability Entities application?

For those who are applying for a business that is part of a corporation, an LLE, or a partnership, the partnerships, corporations, and LLE business certification application is found on the City of San Francisco website. It is an application that requests the basic information on contacting your business including a physical address, mailing address, and phone number. Information pertaining specifically to your partnership, your corporation, or LLE will need to be submitted as well. Some of the information will include your FEIN (federal employer’s ID number), the name of additional owners (partners, members, officers etc,) your corporation name, and a description of your business activities. The structure of your business, meaning whether you are involved in  a LLE, corporation, limited partnership or general partnership.

If you need assistance completing your applications or for questions about it, you can reach the Taxpayer Assistance Office at (415) 554-4400.

What Fees Will I Be Responsible for Paying to Obtain a Business Registration Certificate?

Your business registration fees will be calculated based on your estimated annual payroll cost. Additionally, your business registration fees will be charged based on what quarter your business opens. Contact the Taxpayer Assistance Office at (415) 554-4400 to determine what your business registration rates will be. 

Will I need additional licenses or permits?

Depending on the business activities you plan to conduct, you may need to obtain separate licenses or permits. If you are planning to handle food or certain materials, you may need to contact the health department to discuss health permits or inspections. If you are going to be serving alcohol you will likely need to contact the Alcoholic Beverage Control department. 

I still need information. Who do I contact?

If you need additional information about applying for your business license, visit the Taxpayer Assistance Office at City Hall, room 140, #1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102, call (415) 554-4400, or fax (415) 554-6207.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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