Business License

City of Huntington Beach
Finance Department
Fiscal Services Division - Business Licensing

Business License Tax Information

Introduction
Welcome to the City of Huntington Beach. This web site is intended as a summary of information you will need to know in order to operate a business in Huntington Beach. It is not warranted to be all-inclusive. Any errors or omissions herein will not relieve the business owner of his/her responsibility, obligation or liability in fulfilling all legal requirements. All of your answers may not be found here, therefore, if you have questions please contact the Business License Office at:

2000 Main Street, First Floor
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-2702
Phone: 714-536-5267
Fax: 714-536-5934

Office hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.

The City of Huntington Beach Economic Development Department assists business & economic activity in the City. They work to retain and expand existing businesses, to attract new businesses and to promote development and redevelopment in accordance with the City's Master Plan. For more information about this contact the Economic Development Department on the fifth floor of City Hall or by phone at 714-536-5582.

Free copies of a brochure on "How to obtain a Business License in Huntington Beach" are available at the Business License counter.

Forms
Standard Business License Application
Home Based Business License Application
        Home Occupation Ordinance
Special Event Business License Application

Listing of Licensed Businesses in Huntington Beach

View Business License Lookup Application

Current Business Reports in PDF Format

Active Business Licenses Sorted by Address
Active Business Licenses Sorted by Business Name
Active Busines Licenses Sorted by SIC
New Businesses Licenses Select SIC


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a Business License Tax?
The City of Huntington Beach Municipal Code requires all businesses operating in Huntington Beach to pay an annual business license tax. The City of Huntington Beach is a flat business tax city. A business license tax is an annual non-regulatory licensing fee levied by individual California cities and counties for the privilege of conducting business within a particular city or county jurisdiction. Business license fees are due and payable prior to commencing business within a particular city or county. The fees assessed are intended to raise revenue for the general operating requirements of individual cities and counties. City of Huntington Beach business license revenue pays for Police, Fire, and Safety expenses as well as other general operating costs of the City.

What fees are involved?
Fees are based on number of employees/owners that are involved in the business. If you are an out of town business, such as a general or sub-contractor, your fee is structured differently. The Business License staff will help you determine the type of business license and fee involved for your specific business.

Who needs a Business License?
A business license is required for any person or business making a physical presence in our City conducting business. Whether the business is headquartered here in a commercial location, out of a home office, or headquartered outside of the City, but coming into our City to conduct business. Any individual, corporation, sole proprietor, partnership or any entity that wishes to conduct a business within the City of Huntington Beach must secure a business license. City law states that no person shall engage in business or transact and carry on a business, trade, profession, calling or occupation in the City without having procured a license from the City to do so or without complying with any and all applicable provisions of Chapter 5 of the City ordinance relating to business license. (A separate license is required for each branch or location of business.)

What type of ownership do I have?
Sole Proprietorship - A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that is owned by one person or by a husband and wife. You include the income expenses of the business on your own tax return. We must have the owner's name, home address and driver's license number.
Partnership - A partnership is the relationship existing between two or more persons who join to carry on a trade or business. Each person contributes money, property, labor or skill and expects to share in the profits and losses of the business. A partnership is not taxable on the income of the entity. Each partner includes his or her share of the partnerships income or loss on his or her tax return. Except for husband-wife partnerships, we require a Federal Tax ID number (EIN).
Limited Liability Company - A Limited Liability Company ("LLC") combines traditional corporate and partnership characteristics.
Corporation - In forming a corporation, prospective shareholders transfer money, property, or both for the corporation's capital stock. The profit of a corporation is taxed to both the corporation and the shareholders when the profit is distributed as dividends. In California, the Secretary of State stamps the number only on the original articles of Incorporation.
Other Types - It is possible that the entity you formed is something other that what is documented above, such as a trust.
For more information regarding ownership please visit the State Franchise Tax Board website at http://www.FTB.ca.gov. or their toll free number is 800-852-5711.

What should I do before I apply?
Contact our office to discuss the details of your particular business operation. Inquire about city zoning requirements for your type of business and its planned location. This information can be obtained from the Planning Department. In addition to obtaining the business license, you must also comply with all City, County and State regulations for zoning, building, health and safety. You can obtain an application at the Business License Division or contact our office to request an application via mail, fax or e-mail.

How do I get an application for a City of Huntington Beach Business License?
Contact our office to request an application be sent to you by mail, fax, or e-mail. Applications are also available at our office, or online.

What information is needed in order to complete the application?
Persons applying for a business license will be required to provide one or more of the following items: Federal Tax ID Number, Social Security Number, Residence address and phone number, Date of Birth, and Drivers License Number. Please read the application thoroughly. All sections of the application must be completed. It is important to be specific in your business description. Include the starting date at this location. Indicate whether this is a new business, change in ownership, business name change or business address change. State whether your business is owned solely by you, whether it is a partnership, or a corporation. The names and home addresses of the owners or officers of the corporation are required. The following information must also be included prior to the acceptance of the application:

  • State Board of Equalization Sales Tax Account Number (Resale Number)
  • Social Security Number (If no Federal or State ID number provided)
  • Driver's License Number
  • Federal Employer I.D. Number
  • State Employer I.D. Number
  • State Contractor's License Number (if applicable)
  • State Contractor's Classification (if applicable)

What if my business is home-based?
If your business is headquartered out of a home office, the Home Based Business License Application is the only document you will need to complete. As a Home Based business, zoning regulations limit what type of business can be conducted from home. You must comply with Section 230.12 of the City of Huntington Beach Zoning Code. The Home Occupation Permit is included in this application process.

What is a Certificate of Occupancy and Who is Required to Have One?
Every business, including temporary or itinerant businesses, operating from commercial premises within the City is required to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for their commercial location. They must comply with any and all applicable provisions of the City of Huntington Beach Municipal Code relating to Zoning and Building & Fire Safety. Businesses may apply and pay for their Certificate of Occupancy at the same time they apply and pay for their Business License Tax. For information on Certificate of Occupancy requirements please contact the Planning Department on the third floor of City Hall or by phone at (714) 536-5271.

Are there penalties if I am late paying for my business license?
Any business which operates without first obtaining a Business License or which fails to pay a renewal fee shall pay a penalty of 10% of the tax.

When do I need to renew my business license?
Once you have obtained a business license, which is valid for one (1) year from the business start date, a renewal will automatically be forwarded to you approximately thirty (30) days prior to your expiration date. If you do not receive a renewal notice, please contact the Business License Office. Failure to receive a renewal notice does not relieve the business owner of his/her responsibility to renew the business license.

What if I sell my business? Is my business license transferable?
A business license is not transferable. The license is terminated when business ownership changes. Advise the Business License Office should you sell your business. The new owner will be responsible for obtaining his/her own business license.

What if I move to a new location in Huntington Beach?
To process a change of business address, advise the Business License Office by calling (714) 536-5267 or visiting the Business License Office to request an application form to file for an address change. A processing fee of $17.68 is required with the completed application to change an address.

Do I need to reapply if I change my business name?
To process a change of business name, advise the Business License Office by calling (714) 536-5267 or visiting the Business License Office to request an application form to file for a business name change. The completed application must be returned with a $6.24 processing fee.

Do I need to display my business license?
All business licenses must be displayed on the premises in public view. For those businesses not having a fixed place of business in the city, the license must be physically carried on the person while conducting business and presented upon request.

Fictitious Name or Doing Business As (DBA) Fictitious Names and DBAs are one in the same. If you propose to use a fictitious business name, contact the County Clerk Recorder's and your local newspaper to schedule a publication of notice. Fictitious name statements are filed with the Orange County Clerk's Office, located at 630 N. Broadway Street, (12 Civic Center Plaza, Room. 101 & 106 on the first floor) Santa Ana, California 92701-7530 contact the County Clerk's Office, call (714) 834-2500 or visit their web page at: http://ocrecorder.com/. You can download form and mail back with payment. For more information on California Fictitious Name filing requirements, please see the California Business and Professions Code (Sections 17900-17930) at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

State Sales and Use Tax Permit
If you sell tangible personal property, retail or wholesale, you are required to obtain a Seller's Permit (Retail Sales Tax Number) from the State Board of Equalization (SBE) for the purpose of collecting and reporting sales tax to the State of California. This seller's permit is required before your business license will be released. To obtain a Sellers' Permit, contact the SBE at (949) 440-3473 or you can apply in person at one of the local district offices. Click on the link to obtain a listing of local district offices www.boe.ca.gov. You can download form and mail back with payment. The nearest State Board Equalization office to Huntington Beach City Hall is located at 1675 Von Karman Avenue, Suite 200, Irvine, CA 92606.

Federal Employer Identification Number
If your business is organized as a corporation or partnership, or if you engage or plan to engage employees, you will need a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) for the purpose of withholding FICA taxes and Social Security taxes. . A FEIN is required even if your business has no employees. To obtain a FEIN, contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at www.irs.gov or (800) 829-1040 or download an application for a Federal Employer Identification Number at http://www.fedworld.gov. The nearest IRS office to Huntington Beach City Hall is located at 801 Civic Center Drive W, Santa Ana, CA 92701 or by phone at (714) 347-9204.

State Employer Identification Number
If your business is organized as a corporation or partnership in the State of California, or if you engage or plan to engage employees in the State of California, you will need a State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) for the purpose of withholding State Income Tax, Disability and Unemployment Insurance. To contact the State Employment Development Department - Division of Audits, call (888) 745-3886 or visit their web page at www.edd.ca.gov. The nearest Employment Development Department office to Huntington Beach City Hall is located at 23151 Plaza Pointe Drive., Suite. 140, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.

State Franchise Tax Board
If you intend to have employees within the State of California or to obtain a Form 540 to estimate State Withholding Tax for yourself, contact the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) at (800) 852-5711 or visit their website at www.FTB.ca.gov.

Alcoholic Beverage Control Licenses
If your business will be selling or serving alcoholic beverages contact the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The nearest office is located at 28 Civic Center Plaza, Room 369, Santa Ana, CA 92701-4032 or by phone at (714) 558-4101 or visits their website at www.abc.ca.gov.

Liability and Workers' Compensation Insurance
To obtain information regarding Liability and Workers' Compensation Insurance requirements, contact (714) 565-5000 or your insurance agent. You may also visit the California Department of Insurance's website at www.insurance.ca.gov.

Will I be preparing or selling food?
If your business intends to prepare and/or sell food of any type, you must complete an application for a Health Permit. Businesses will need to contact O.C. Environmental Health at http://www.ocfoodinfo.com/ 1241 E. Dyer Road #120, Santa Ana, CA 92705..

Pre-Licensing Requirements
The following permits, licenses and/or identification numbers must be obtained prior to completing a Huntington Beach Business License application:

  • State Board of Equalization Sales Tax Account Number - Resale Number (if applicable)
  • Social Security Number (if sole owner without employees)
  • California Driver's License Number or California Identification Number
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (if corporation, partnership, or if employer)
  • State Licensed Contractor's License Number and Classification (if applicable)

Writing To Us About Your Business License Tax Account
If you wish to write to us regarding your business license tax account, please be sure and supply your name, address and the business license tax number with all correspondence.

City of Huntington Beach
Business License Division - Finance
PO Box 190
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-0190

Do I Need a Business License Tax if I Become a Landlord Receiving Rents From the Rental, Leasing, Subleasing or Subletting of Residential Property Located in the City of Huntington Beach?
If you become a landlord and rent, lease, sublease or sublet residential property for three or more units within the City, you are required to secure a business license.

Do I Need a Business License Tax if I Operate a Commercial or Home-Based Nonprofit Business, Organization, or Institution?
If you operate a commercial or home-based nonprofit business, organization, or institution, you are exempt from obtaining a business license tax. An exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service showing your 501(c)3 status will be required.. No business license fee shall be applied with respect to any bona fide nonprofit business.

May I Register to do Business From a Post Office Box or Private Postal Mailbox (PMB) Located Within the City of Huntington Beach?
A post office box or private postal mailbox (PMB) address may be used as the mailing address of record for receiving information regarding a Huntington Beach business license; however, a post office box or PMB address does not constitute a business location for business licensing purposes. A post office box or PMB address cannot be substituted as the business location address for any business, whether physically located within the City of Huntington Beach or physically located outside of the City of Huntington Beach.

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