How do I get a Business License?

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We know that the process of getting all the correct licenses, permits and certificates can be confusing. As part of our continued effort to reduce this confusion, we have included quick links to licenses and permits as well as answers to some common questions below. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Economic Development Manager, if you have any questions throughout this process.

Business License Applications - Quick Links

APPLY NOW - Online Business License Application

If the Business Location is within the City limits you will need to fill out a Zoning and Building Clearance Form. The change of location fee is $110.30 for businesses that have moved.

Cannabis businesses must fill out a separate application. Please visit the Cannabis information page for more information.

Printable Business License Application
Home Occupation Permit Form
Homestay Permit
Business License Renewal - Online Payment

Verification Program Fact Sheet

ATTENTION: Effective 01/01/2020 Any person that conducts a business operation that is a regulated industry, as defined in Section 13383.5 of the Water Code, shall demonstrate enrollment with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program. To learn more, click here

For additional information contact the Finance Department at 805-781-7134 or 990 Palm St. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401.

Common Questions

Please see Frequently Asked Questions document and questions below.

Who needs to apply for a Business License?

All persons or companies conducting business within the City limits of San Luis Obispo are required to obtain a city business license. This includes but is not limited to retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers, service providers, professionals, independent contractors, home businesses and commercial and residential property landlords. For information concerning exceptions, please refer to our exceptions pageAn application must be submitted and fees must be paid prior to commencement of business operations.                                           

What are the requirements for a Homestay permit?

The Homestay Permit has specific requirements for obtaining a business license, including payment of Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT), owner occupancy, maximum number of guests, parking, designating a responsible party and limitation of use of accessory structures. See the "Permits for Homeowners and Renters page" for details.

What businesses require additional permits?
  • Massage Therapist - Contact the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department prior to applying for a business license.
  • Mobile Food Vendor - Contact the City of San Luis Obispo Police Department prior to applying for a business license.
  • Home-based business within the city limits of San Luis Obispo - You must also apply for a Home Occupation Permit.
  • Cannabis Delivery Businesses conducting business within the city - You must apply for a Business License & Cannabis Tax Certificate. For additional information look to the FAQ.

How much is the application fee?

Business Locations within the limits  of the City of San Luis Obispo but not located in the Downtown Business Improvement District

**Except rental property and independent contractors


Rental Properties and Independent Contractors not located within the Downtown Business

Improvement District


Business Locations within the Downtown Business Improvement District

**Except rental property and independent contractors


Rental Property and Independent Contractors within the Downtown Business Improvement District


Home-based businesses located within the city limits of San Luis Obispo


Business locations outside the city limits of San Luis Obispo



What is the Downtown Business Improvement District?

The Downtown Business Improvement District was formed in 1975 to promote economic vitality in the heart of the downtown area. An assessment is imposed on every business in the area and is collected with the business license application fee and annually with the business license renewal fee. The revenue collected from this assessment is allocated only to programs that benefit downtown businesses. The City contracts with the Downtown Association to provide services funded by this assessment. 

Click the following links for the Business Improvement District area map and address list:

Address List

Downtown SLO
1135 Chorro Street,
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

When do I renew my business license?

All business license renewals are due and payable on July 1st of each year and become delinquent on July 31st of each year. All renewing businesses must submit the renewal form, provided by the Finance Department, stating the gross receipts earned the preceding calendar year. 

How much does it cost to renew my business license?

These are the separate components of the business license fees: business tax, business license, downtown assessment and State CASP fee.

The business tax is measured by gross receipts from the preceding completed fiscal year. The tax for all businesses is fifty cents per thousand dollars of gross receipts; with a minimum of $25.00.

The business license is a $56.77 fee for all businesses.

The downtown assessment is charged only to businesses located within the Downtown Business Improvement District. The assessment is fifty-five cents per thousand dollars of gross receipts; with a minimum amount of $150.00.

The State CASp fee is $4.00. It is a State mandated fee assessed to increase disability access in businesses. The fee is used to educate City staff and businesses about federal and state disability access laws.

Additional fees may also apply if your business has changed location within the city limits. Please call the Community Development Department at 805-781-7170 for more details.