Apply For A Business License San Mateo, California

Do you plan to open a business in San Mateo, California?

The city of San Mateo has a business tax certificate program for those who plan to operate a business within the city limits. The business tax certificate application can be filled in and printed form the City of San Mateo website. There are different applications that can be printed, based on the type of business that you will be doing. You will answer a few questions to arrive at the correct application type that your business will require. 

The categories for a San Mateo business tax certificate are:

  1. Home occupation:

    This application requests information about the business you will run from your home, such as how you plan to use your home, the floor space that will be dedicated to your home business, if you have a federal tax ID number, the owner of your property, and all contact information. Your business ownership type will need to be stated, whether you are the sole owner, a partner, or part of a larger corporation or trust. To operate a home business, you will need to be familiar and in compliance with several conditions and regulations, all of which are included with the application.

  2. Commercial application (broken into two classifications, flat rate form or gross receipts form):

    Both of these applications are for those who are planning to operate a business in the city limits in a commercial location  If your business activities include anything to do with automobiles, or brokerages, you will fill out a flat rate form. If you are involved in retail, consultation, food handling, etc., you will fill out the gross receipts application. Both of these applications need information regarding your business, and on all owners. Some of the information includes all names of owners, along with their contact information, all contact information for your business, the ownership type for your business (single owner, in a partnership, part of a corporation, or trust) and a detailed description of the business you will be conducting. There are some tax ID numbers that you may need to obtain from the IRS or from the state of California. Both applications require a signature and an estimate on the number of employees you plan to hire. The major difference in the two applications is that the flat rate application has a section has the flat rate you will be paying for your business tax certificate, and the gross receipts application will use your estimated gross receipts. There is a section that applies to the fees you will pay based on your gross receipts.

  3. Outside of San Mateo (applications are broken into two classifications, building contractor form or an out-of-town form):

    If you are doing business as a contractor in the city of San Mateo, you will need to download the building contractor’s application. You will need to provide information on your business (name, address, phone number, ownership type etc.), your contractor’s license, and the name and contact information of the owner(s) of your business. Your fees will be determined by the type of contracting you will be doing, whether you are a general contractor or a specialty contractor. If you are filling out the out-of-town business tax certificate application, you will need to include all business contact and owner contact information, the ownership type for your business (sole proprietor, corporation, trust, LLC/LLP, or partnership). There is a section for the fees you will pay for based on a gross receipts estimate or actual gross receipts if your business is already established. Both applications need to be signed stating that the information you have provided is true and complete.

Will you need zoning clearance?

All businesses operating in the city in a commercial location will need to acquire zoning approval. This should be done before you purchase or lease any commercial property. Being zone-approved means that your business activities are acceptable in the location that you are planning to use. If your potential business property is not located in the correct zone, you will need to find another property. The Planning Division can help you determine what zone you will need to operate your business in, by calling them at (650) 522-7212. 

Will you need additional permits or licenses?

You may, depending on the business activities that you are planning to conduct. Certain businesses may need police or fire department approval. Corporations and partnerships, or those planning to hire employees may need to contact the IRS for a federal employer’s ID number (FEIN). If you are planning to operate a business which handles food or certain chemicals, you will likely need a health permit and/or health inspection. Contact the Finance Department early on when planning to open your business to determine if you need any additional permits or licenses because they will need to be in place when your business commences.

Will you pay fees associated with obtaining a San Mateo business tax certificate?

The fees that you will be expected to pay are found on the actual San Mateo business tax certificate applications, but you may incur other costs. Contact the Finance Department if you are not sure what fees you are required to pay. 

Do you need more information?

If you need more information, call the Business Tax Division at (650) 522-7113. The Finance Department office is located at City Hall, 330 W. 20th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403. Business Hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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