All of huntington Beach

Business License

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 to the left. 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. 
A City of Huntington Beach business license is not a regulatory license but a tax to help pay for public safety needs of the citizens of Huntington Beach.  Clarification and definitions can be found in the Huntington Beach Municipal Code, Title 5

ONLINE APPLICATION/PAYMENT PORTALYou 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 application forms below.

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 2 to 4 business days.

FORMS MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION SEARCH FOR LICENSED BUSINESSES IN HUNTINGTON BEACH CURRENT BUSINESS REPORTS IN PDF FORMAT 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.
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. 

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. 

Other Types - It is possible that the entity you formed is something other than what is documented above, such as a trust.
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.
Are there penalties if I am late paying for my business license?
Yes, any business which operates without first obtaining a Business License or which fails to renew their license by the expiration date 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 or have other changes?
To process a change to your business license information, contact the Business License Office and request a changes to business license form. A processing fee will be due at the time the change is made.
Do I need to display my business license?
Yes, 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.
Do I need a Business License if I receive compensation from renting, leasing, subleasing or subletting of residential property located in the City of Huntington Beach?
Yes, if you 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 non-profit business, organization, or institution in the City of Huntington Beach?
Yes, if you operate a non-profit business, organization, or institution in the City of Huntington Beach, you are required to obtain a business license, 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?
No, a post office box or personal mailbox (PMB) address may be used as the service of process address for your business, but it 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.