New Business Licenses
Apply for a new business license from the City of Berkeley if you are starting a new business, the new owner of an existing business, or opening a new location for your business.
Welcome to the City of Berkeley business community! You will need a new Business License if you are:
- Starting a new business
- The new owner of an existing business
- Opening an additional location for your current business
The business license is an annual revenue tax required by all persons or businesses operating, directly or indirectly, in the City of Berkeley, including but not limited to:
- Owners of commercial rental property
- Owners of residential property with three or more dwelling units and/or owners of five or more residential rental units
- Contractors applying for building permits
- Home-based businesses
- Street artists and vendors (see special screening process instructions lower on this page)
- Businesses doing business as Partnerships, Corporations, Co-op Corporations, Sole Owners, LLCs , or LLP/LPs
Depending on your type of business and physical location, the application process takes a few days to several weeks to complete the review and approval process. To find out the status of your application, call (510) 981-7200 or email email@example.com.
Before a business license can be issued, the business must pay all associated taxes and fees and obtain all necessary approvals, permits, and licenses, including a Zoning Certificate for businesses with an address in Berkeley (you must register for an account to apply online) or a Home Occupation permit for those who work from home.
It is the business’ responsibility to obtain all necessary approvals, permits, licenses, and to pay all taxes and fees associated with the business. After the business license is established, all Berkeley businesses are responsible for the timely filing of the annual business license renewal and payment.
New businesses can contact the Office of Economic Development for further assistance with getting a business established in Berkeley.
Complete a business license application to apply
To start the business license process, fill out a business license application form.
- Business license application form with auto-calculations (fill in digitally, then print)
- Business license application form without auto-calculations (print, then fill out by hand)
Ensure your business meets address, zoning, and safety regulations
Confirm your Berkeley Business Address
Your business location must exist in the City’s Parcel and Zoning Search Tool for your application to be accepted. Visit Zoning Permits and Zone Designations for more information or ask at the Permit Service Center to confirm. You may also view a PDF of the official Zoning Map.
If your business location (including suite number) can’t be found using the Parcel and Zoning Search Tool, it is not yet legally established, and you will need to apply for an address assignment. To apply, complete an Address Assignment Request Form and submit to the Building & Safety Division along with the $200 fee.
The process for address assignment takes four to six weeks, so be sure to check the database early on.
Ensure your business is located in an appropriate zoning area
Zoning approval is needed for a new business, new business location, or a home occupation, and requires a separate application from the Planning Department. Your business must be in a zoning district that allows for your type of business activity and permits your proposed use of that space. Home occupations are allowed in most dwelling units. Look up your zoning district and the allowed uses and permits required for that district in the Zoning Ordinance. You can also visit the Zoning Counter at the Permit Service Center (3rd floor, 1947 Center Street) to see whether your type of business is allowed in your proposed location and what zoning permits you might need. Depending on the zoning district and your proposed use, you will need a Zoning Certificate for a Business License or Home Occupation, Administrative Use Permit, or a Use Permit with a Public Hearing. Learn more about these types of permits and how to apply on the Zoning Permits page.
Ensure your business meets relevant codes
Also, before receiving a zoning certificate and business license, you may need approval from various City departments to make sure that your building and operational practices are up to code. In addition to zoning approval, depending on the nature of your business, you may need the following approvals:
- Building and Safety inspections to verify that any construction activities have obtained required permits, and that existing conditions meet basic life safety requirements.
- Fire Prevention inspections to verify that fire prevention measures meet basic life safety requirements.
- Environmental Health inspections to verify that operational practices promote and protect the health and safety of all persons in the City of Berkeley.
- Toxics Management inspections to verify that hazardous materials are handled appropriately.
- Police fingerprinting to verify your background and criminal record.
Return your business license application in person or by mail:
- In person at the Customer Service Center
- By mail to:
1947 Center Street, 1st Floor Berkeley, CA 94704
Include a check made out to the City of Berkeley to pay all fees, which include:
- Registration fee: $25
- Minimum tax
- For most businesses: $51
- For rental properties: $77
- For non-profits (include copy of IRS exemption letter): $26
- State-Mandated Fee: $4