How to Obtain a California Business License

Learn how to obtain a California business license by searching the California Secretary of State's website, applying for an EIN from the IRS, verifying your name with the SOS, obtaining necessary licenses, and more.

How to Obtain a California Business License

The California Secretary of State provides a business license search tool to help you determine if a company is licensed. You can access the search on the Secretary of State's website, or you can enter a license number, individual name, or company name and select a state to perform a California Secretary of State business search. If your business has employees or pays taxes separately from you, you must obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. Even if you are not legally required to get an EIN, there are many advantages to doing so.

Banks often require an EIN to open an account in the company's name, and other companies with which you do business may require an EIN to process payments. You can easily apply for an EIN online on the IRS website. It is important to be aware of the laws and regulations that govern businesses in California, as thousands of companies are sued each year for engaging in practices that are against the law, such as misclassifying workers as independent contractors or failing to pay daily overtime. Business titles are essential for career growth, increased earning potential, and business expansion.

To form an LLC or corporation in California, you must first verify that your name is unique from other business entities registered with the California Secretary of State (SOS). Depending on the type of trade or business you are operating, you may need to obtain certain county and state licenses in order to protect public health and safety, such as gun dealers and tattoo artists. Once you have completed all necessary paperwork, your city will mail you a California business license with a license number within a few weeks. This is because cities in California can charge fees for any business located in their jurisdiction as a tax collection mechanism and also as a way to track economic development statistics.

If your business is not located in your residence, you must complete the Home Occupancy Authorization form (which is part of the online business license application). It is also recommended that you open a separate business account to make it easier to track your income and expenses. Business insurance can protect your business and personal assets from unexpected disasters such as personal injury claims and natural disasters. The Citrus Heights City Code requires that all businesses operating within city limits obtain a business license.

You should consider which business entity structure offers the type of liability protection you want and the best tax, financial and financial benefits for you and your company. The structure of your company and how it was formed will determine whether or not you can be held personally liable for your company's debts. Each city has different California business license forms and requirements, but most of them are very similar.