01. What is a business registration?
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.
02. Who needs a business registration?
You need a business registration in the City of San Carlos if:
- You are conducting any kind of business for profit or for your livelihood within the City of San Carlos
- You have a fictitious business name certificate
- You have a State Board of Equalization resale permit
- You have a listing in the Commercial Directory Yellow Pages, Business White Pages, the newspaper, local businss guides, real estate multiple listing books or any other similar listings
- You have a home based business
03. How do I get a business registration?
Follow the steps listed below to obtain a business registration:
- You may obtain a business registration application at: City of San Carlos City Hall at 600 Elm Street. The counter hours for the Finance Division is open from 9 am - 12 pm and 1 pm - 3 pm, Monday - Friday and by appointment. You may also receive an application by mail, fax or from the City website.
- Always check with our Planning Department to ensure that your business is permissible in the location you are considering, this includes home occupations.
- Fill out the application completely.
- 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/or any other department of the City may have 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 2-4 weeks. Business registration fees are non-refundable.
04. Do I need a business registration to sell pumpkins or Christmas trees once a year?
Yes, a business registration is required for a temporary business location to sell any vegetables, fruits or Christmas trees. Before a registration is issued the Planning Department will review all applications.
05. I am a solicitor/ peddler, what must I do?
If you intend to go door to door to solicit funds or sell a product, you first must go to the Police Department and obtain an application for a solicitor's permit. After receiving approval to obtain the solicitor's permit from the Police Department, you must obtain a business registration from City Hall and pay the business registration fee. Once you have both documents in hand, then you may start soliciting. It takes approximately 3 weeks to obtain a solicitor's permit because a background check is required.
06. I want to do massage therapy in San Carlos. What do I need to do?
You must include documents requested to the business registration application. You may then apply for a business registration from City Hall and pay the business registration fee. Failure to submit all requested documents together will result in delay of processing the application.
07. Once I've applied for my business registration and paid the fee, how long before I receive the actual business registration?
It usually takes 2-4 weeks to process the completed application. The business registration will be mailed to the mailing address you indicate on the application when complete.
08. What is the fee to get a replacement copy of a business registration?
The fee for a new copy of an existing registration is listed in the City fee schedule.
09. What is the fee for changes to an existing business registration?
If the ownership changes, the business registration is not transferable and you will need to apply for a new business registration and pay the appropriate fees. There is no charge to change a mailing address or business name on a business registration. If your business address is changing, it will require new zoning clearance and payment of zoning clearance fees.
10. How long does my business registration last?
Your business registration is a non-refundable annual tax. The business registration needs to be renewed annually. You will receive a courtesy renewal notice 30 days before its expiration; however, it is your responsibility to renew the business registration on time even if the renewal notice is not received. Penalties are assessed for delinquent accounts, regardless of whether you received a renewal notice.
11. What happens if I pay late?
The penalty for a delinquent registration is 20% of the business registration fee applied every month being late until 100%.
12. What if my business is in my home?
You are still required to obtain a business registration if your residence is in San Carlos city limits. Check with Planning Department to ensure that your business is permissible from your home.
13. Can I start my business as soon as I pay the fee?
No. All the appropriate permits and/or approvals from Planning, Building, Police and/or any other City department may have to be secured before your business can start. All federal, state, county and city laws, ordinances and regulations must be complied with as well.
14. Are there any restrictions on where I do business?
Every business must meet zoning requirements to ensure that the business activity and site are compatible. BEFORE SIGNING any lease or rental agreement, we suggest that you check with the City's Planning Department to make sure your business activity is appropriate for the area's zoning and it will not require a public hearing or special parking considerations. Call (650) 802-4263 for additional information.
15. I have a wonderful idea for a great sign!
Check with the Planning Department before using or installing ANY type of sign, flag or banner, even balloons. Permanent and temporary signs require review and approval prior to issuance of permits and installations.
16. How do I obtain a Fictitious Business Name?
The City does not issue Fictitious Business Names. You must file a Fictitious Name registration or a "doing business as" (dba) with the County of San Mateo if you are using a name other than your own. Contact the County Clerk's office at (650) 363-4712 or visit their website.
The fictitious business name should be filed before applying for a business registration with the City.
17. How can I pay for the business registration fee?
All new business registration applications must be accompanied by a check, cash (in person), or money order payment. Please make the check payable to City of San Carlos and submit the fees and application in person or via mail, to City of San Carlos, Finance Division, 600 Elm Street, San Carlos, CA 94070. We also accept Visa or MasterCard if you are paying in person or by phone.
18. What if I have more than one business or more than one location?
If you own more than one business, a separate business registration is required for each type of business and for each location.
19. I just purchased this business. Can I use the business registration from the previous owner?
No. A business registration cannot be transferred or re-assigned. As a new owner, you need to apply for a business registration in your name.
20. What do I need to do if my business is a nonprofit organization?
If your business is a nonprofit organization, it is exempt from the registration fee. However, tax-exempt organizations are required to provide proof of their nonprofit status in order to receive a business registration. They must provide a copy of a statement from the California Secretary of State or the Internal Revenue Service stating that the business has a nonprofit status.
21. Do state-licensed contractors also need a San Carlos business registration?
Any person licensed as a contractor by the State Contractor's Board must obtain a business registration if they are (1) conducting business in the City of San Carlos; or (2) based in the City, whether conducting business in or outside of the City.
22. Can I use my registration to do business in another city?
No. This registration is for doing business in the incorporated area of the City of San Carlos only. If you plan on doing business in another city, you must contact them in order to obtain their requirements for a business registration.
23. What do I need to do to close my business?
Business registrations are NOT automatically canceled. When a business is sold, closed, or moved out of San Carlos, the business registration must be inactivated. You may send written notification or come in person to City Hall. Please be prepared to provide the date the business is closed or sold and the name of the new owner, if applicable.
24. Who can I call with additional questions?
Finance Division (650) 802-4213 firstname.lastname@example.org
25. Additional Resources
Federal Tax ID Number
If your business is a corporation or partnership, you need to apply for a Federal Tax ID Number.
450 Golden Gate Avenue, 1st Floor, Suite #5403
San Francisco, CA 94102
State Tax Identification Number
If you will have employees, you need to obtain your Employee Identification Number or State Tax ID Number.
Employment Development Department
800 Capitol Mall, MIC 83
Sacramento, CA 95814
When involved in selling, you need to get a Seller's Permit Number or Resale Number.
State Board of Equalization
121 Spear Street #460
San Francisco, CA 94105
Fictitious Business Name
You must file a Fictitious Name registration or a "doing business as" (dba) if you are using a name other than your own.
San Mateo County
County Clerk's Office
555 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
Selling Food Items
A health permit is required for businesses that dispense food to the public. A permit is needed before opening or being issued a business registration. Anything to do with food preparation is not allowed for home occupied businesses.
Environmental Board of Health
455 County Center, 4th Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
Alcohol Beverage License
When selling any liquor, beer, or wine, you must obtain a permit.
Alcohol Beverage Control Board
185 Berry Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Before you buy or lease a building, check with the Planning Department to make sure that the proposed use is in conformance with the zoning for the property.
City of San Carlos Planning Department
600 Elm Street
San Carlos, CA 94070
Unincorporated Areas Business Licenses
San Mateo Tax Collector's Office
555 County Center 1st Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
CA State Contractor's License Board
9812 Business Park Drive
Sacramento, CA 95827
(800) 321-2752 or (916) 255-3900
The Better Business Bureau
1000 Broadway #625
Oakland, CA 94607
California Government Online (CalGOLD)
This website assists you in finding the appropriate permitting information for your businesses.
San Carlos Chamber of Commerce
For more information and additional business resources:
San Carlos Chamber of Commerce
1500 Laurel Street #B
San Carlos, CA 94070
California Massage Therapy Council
This website assists you in finding information about obtaining certificates for massage therapists.