Doing Business in San Carlos

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Business Registration Application Information

San Carlos Finance Department

600 Elm Street, 2nd Floor
San Carlos, CA 94070

Counter & Phone Hours:
9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Monday - Friday (closed 12 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. daily)

Phone (650) 802-4213
Fax (650) 595-6725

Forms  & Information
  • Business Registration Application Form  (PDF Icon - PDF 151K)   Please fill out this form, calculate the fees due and remit to the City of San Carlos. If you have any questions about the fee schedule and amount due, please email or call the Finance Division. In addition to the annual fee for a business registration, all new, in-town businesses are subject to an $85 zoning review fee, which needs to be calculated with the base fee. A change of address within San Carlos is also subject to the $85 zoning fee. See the fee schedule below.
  • Business Registration Application Form for Out of Town Businesses    (PDF Icon - PDF 22K) If you are an out of town contractor doing work in our city, and your business location is outside of San Carlos, please fill out this form.
  • Credit Card Authorization Form   (PDFIcon - PDF 104K)
    Submission of applications or payments through the City website is not currently available, but if you would like to send your payment or application electronically, please download and complete the necessary forms, then fax to (650) 595-6725 or email using the provided link above.
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)   (PDF Icon - PDF 77 K)
  • Guide to Starting a Business in San Carlos  (PDF Icon - PDF 1414K)

A business registration is an annual tax for doing business within the incorporated area of the city of San Carlos. The San Carlos Municipal Code requires that you obtain a registration when you conduct any business activity within the city, even if your business is located outside the city limits or you have a business registration from another city.

Who needs a business registration?

You need a business registration in the city of San Carlos if:

ü You are conducting any kind of business for profit or for your livelihood within the city of San Carlos

ü You have a fictitious business name certificate

ü You have a State Board of Equalization resale permit

ü You have a listing in the Commercial Directory Yellow Pages, Business White Pages, the newspaper, local business guides, real estate multiple listing books or any other similar listings

ü You have a home based business

How do I get a business registration?

Follow the steps listed below to obtain a business registration:

ü You may obtain a business registration application at San Carlos City Hall or download a fillable PDF on the top of this page

ü Always check with our Planning Department to ensure that your business is permissible in the location you are considering; this includes home occupations

ü Fill out the application completely

ü Pay the required fee and return it along with your completed application to City Hall

Appropriate permits and/or approvals from Planning, Building, Police and any other departments of the City may need to be secured before your business may start. All applicable federal, state, county and city laws, ordinances or regulations must be followed before your business may start. 

 The application will be processed and you should receive your registration within 1-2 weeks. Business registration fees are non-refundable.

Paying for Your Business Registration or Renewal Fees

The amount of your total fee is calculated based on your type of business and number of owner/employees. To calculate your total fee:

1. Determine the category of your TYPE OF BUSINESS below (I Manufacturing, Retail, II Services or III Professions.)

2. Calculate the # of EMPLOYEES (including owner) based on your type of business, then refer to FEE CALCULATIONS above.

3. For Categories I, II, III: Multiply the # of EMPLOYEES by PER EMPLOYEE rate calculate your BASE FEE. If the BASE FEE equals less than $172, your BASE FEE will be $172, as $172 is the MINIMUM BASE FEE. $2,197 is the maximum BASE FEE.

4. Add the BASE FEE plus the one-time ZONING FEE plus the SB1186 FEE** and the result is the TOTAL FEE DUE for your business registration.

*Please note that for one employee/owner, your base fee will never be less than $172, it is the minimum base fee. 
   i.e., for one Employee/Owner, the base fee will be $172 + $85 one time zoning review fee + $1  state mandated fee = $257.00
   Please also note that the $85 zoning review fee is applicable to all new business registrations and all change of address registrations.

Payment: The City takes cash, check or credit card. Checks should be made out to "City of San Carlos"  and either dropped off or mailed to 600 Elm Street, Finance Dept., 2nd Floor, San Carlos, CA 94070

Credit Card Authorization Form  If you would like to pay for your license or renewal via credit card, please download and complete this form, then fax to (650) 595-6725. (
PDF Icon - PDF 104K)

*Flow Chart

Business Registration Ordinance

The on-line version of the 
Business Registration Ordinance is a hypertext document with five major sections. 


On September 19, 2012, Governor Brown signed into law SB1186, which adds a state fee of $1 on any application for a local business license or similar instrument or permit, or renewal thereof. On and after January 1, 2013, and until December 31, 2018, applicants must pay an additional $1 fee for a business license.
For more information, please click

If you have reviewed the FAQ for Doing Business in San Carlos and Fee Schedule and have additional questions regarding the business registration process, please contact the San Carlos Finance Division:
Phone (650) 802-4213
Fax (650) 595-6725

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