PLEASE SEE BELOW ON HOW TO APPLY FOR A BUSINESS LICENSE
City of Huntington Beach
Finance Department - Business Licensing
2000 Main Street, First Floor
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-2702
Phone hours are 8:30am - 4:00pm, Monday through Friday.
Office hours are 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday.
Or mail correspondence to:
City of Huntington Beach
Business License Division - Finance
PO Box 190
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-0190
ABOUT BUSINESS LICENSE TAX
Welcome to the City of Huntington Beach business community! The information provided on this website is intended as a summary of information and provided as a public service. It is not all-inclusive and any specific questions should be directed to the BUSINESS LICENSE OFFICE at the phone number and email address listed above. Any errors or omissions addressed on this site will not relieve the business owner of his/her responsibility, obligation or liability in fulfilling all legal requirements.
Clarification and definitions can be found in the Huntington Beach Municipal Code, Title 5. A City of Huntington Beach business license is not a regulatory license but a tax to help pay for the public safety needs of the citizens of Huntington Beach.
ONLINE APPLICATION/PAYMENT PORTAL - click HERE
You may now apply for a Huntington Beach Out of City CSLB Contractor business license and Home Based business license on our electronic system HB ACA (Accela Citizen Access). All other types of businesses must apply in person or via email. See address and contact information provided at the top of the page.
Please read all instructions for setting up an account and submitting applications online using the HB ACA portal.
HB ACA Instructions - Before You Apply Online
All businesses with a current business license may renew their business license on the HB ACA portal.
HB ACA - Apply or Renew Online Here
Processing time for new applications is currently 3 to 5 days.
Business License Requirements for Marketing at Special Events
Massage Establishment Requirements
Search for Licensed Businesses in Huntington Beach
View Business License Lookup Application
SHORT-TERM RENTAL PERMITS are processed by the Community Development Department. For more information on how to apply for the permit, click here.
Once you have received an Approved Short-Term Rental permit, you will need to apply for a Standard Business License.
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 tax levied by individual California cities and counties for the privilege of conducting business within a particular city or county jurisdiction. The costs 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 costs are involved?
For most types of businesses, taxes are based on the 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 tax is structured differently. The Business License staff will help you determine the type of business license and costs 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 an allowable 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, social security number or tax ID number, 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 is expected 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 partnership's income or loss on his or her tax return. Except for husband-wife partnerships, when there are two or more applicants on a business license application, who state they are partners in business, a Federal Tax ID number (EIN) is required.
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 than what is documented above, such as a trust.
How do I get an application for a City of Huntington Beach Business License?
Applications are available at our office, or online (see above).
What information is needed in order to complete the application?
Depending on the type of business that is conducted, it will determine the type of information needed. As a basic overview, 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 applicable sections of the application for your type of business must be completed. It is important to be specific in your business description. Include the starting date at this location. State whether your business is owned solely by you, whether it is a partnership, or a corporation. The names and residence 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:
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 prior to applying for a business license. They must comply with any and all applicable provisions of the City of Huntington Beach Municipal Code relating to Zoning and Building & Fire Safety. For information on Certificate of Occupancy requirements please contact the Community Development 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 per month.
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 notice will be mailed to the mailing address on record approximately thirty (30) days prior to your expiration date. If you do not receive a renewal notice, please contact the Business License Office at (714) 536-5267. Be aware that the business license renewal notice is a courtesy notice only. Failure to receive a renewal notice does not relieve the business owner of his/her responsibility to renew the business license and keep it current and valid.
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 will be due at the time the change is made.
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 a form to file for a business name change. A processing fee will be due at the time the change is made.
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 Business Name Statements or Doing Business As (DBA) Fictitious Business Name Statements and DBAs are one in the same, but differ from a business license. If you propose to use a fictitious business name that does not contain your surname, contact the County Clerk Recorder's Office and your local newspaper to schedule a publication of notice. Fictitious business name statements are filed with the Orange County Clerk's Office, contact the County Clerk's Office, call (714) 834-2500 or visit their web page at: http://ocrecorder.com/. For more information on California Fictitious Name filing requirements, please see the California Business and Professions Code (Sections 17900-17930) at https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/. Be aware that filing a fictitious business name statement displaying a Huntington Beach address will require you to obtain a business license with our city. Filing a business name statement with the intent of only holding the name is filing under false pretenses.
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 California Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) 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 CDTFA at (949) 440-3473 or please see CDTFA's link below.
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/pub/irs-pdf/fss4.pdf or (800) 829-1040 or download an application for a Federal Employer Identification Number at www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/how-to-apply-for-an-ein.
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.
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. Contact Alcoholic Beverage Control by phone at (714) 558-4101 or visit 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/.
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 the residential property for three or more units within the City, you are required to secure a business license.
Do I Need a Business License if I Operate a Commercial or Home-Based Nonprofit Business, Organization, or Institution?
If you operate a commercial or home-based non-profit business, organization, or institution, you are required to obtain a business license from the City but you are exempt from paying any business license taxes or fees. An exemption letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) showing your 501(c)3 status will be required at the time of your application.
May I Register to do Business From a Post Office Box or Personal Mailbox (PMB) Located Within the City of Huntington Beach?
A post office box or personal mailbox (PMB) address may be used as the mailing address for your business. 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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City of Huntington Beach
2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: (714) 536-5630
Fax: (714) 536-5934