Business License

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Free Assistance for New and Existing Businesses
Sin Costo Alguno por la Asistencia a Negocios Nuevos y Existentes

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City staff is pleased that you have selected Santa Maria for your business enterprise. The Department of Finance's staff is here to assist you through the business license process and strives to make the business license application process convenient and customer friendly for businesses coming into our City. City of Santa Maria staff recognizes that business owners have time, effort, money, and dreams invested in their business. City staff is committed to doing their part to help business owners meet their dreams for business success.

40363-HandshakeQuestions are often asked on what is required for starting a business in the City of Santa Maria. This website should be helpful in providing some insight on things that you need to do when starting a business. The information is not all inclusive and additional inquiries should be directed to the Finance Division, Business License at (805) 925-0951 extension 2422. If you wish to visit the office in person, the Finance Division is located at 206 E. Cook Street, Santa Maria, CA, 93454. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Offices are closed on Fridays.


Common questions (click for answers)


Why was a business license tax enacted?
A business license tax was enacted for the intent of regulating certain businesses and raising revenue for municipal purposes. Revenue received from the business license tax is deposited into the City's General Fund and is used to support City services such as police, fire and public works services.

Why is a business license required?
Business licenses are required for the following reasons:

• To assist orderly business development;
• To ensure compliance with land-use and building regulations;
• To facilitate planning decisions. 


Who is required to have a business license?
A business license is required for all business transacted in the City, unless specifically exempted in the Santa Maria Municipal Code. A separate business license must be obtained for each branch, establishment, location, and type of business as established in the Santa Maria Municipal Code.

How to apply for a business license:

Complete the Business License Application and the Storm Water Form and bring both to the City.

If you live within the City limits and your business location is your home address, also complete the Home Occupation Form. See Step 2.

If your business location is within the City limits, see Step 2.

If you business is located outside the City limits and is not a regulated business, see Step 3.

If you prefer, you may have a business license application faxed or mailed to you by contacting the Finance Department at (805) 925-0951 extension 2422.

Submit the completed business license application to the Community Development Department, Planning Division. The Planning Division is located at 110 S. Pine Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93458. Community Development staff may be contacted at (805) 925-0951 extension 2244.

  • Zoning Verification
    To assure that the type of business license you are applying for is permitted use in the proposed location the business license application will be reviewed for zoning verification.


  • Building Inspection
    If zoning is approved, a building inspection may be scheduled to verify that your business location is in compliance with health and safety regulations. Tenant improvements and new construction should be completed prior to the date your business is scheduled for inspection.


  • Community Development Fees
    At the time you submit your application, fees will be due for zoning, inspection, and certificate of occupancy. Although, you may choose to pay the business license application fee and tax at this time, the business license application fee and tax is not required at the time you submit your business license application.

A business license application fee and tax is required to be paid prior to the opening of business. The business license application fee and tax may be paid at the Finance Division (206 E. Cook St. - Business Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) The business license will be mailed to you approximately one week after all requirements have been met and fees have been paid.

For information regarding the cost of obtaining a business license, please contact the Finance Department, Finance Division at (805) 925-0951 extension 2422.

How long is a business license valid?
A business license expires at the end of the 12th month following the first day that the business is scheduled to open for business.

If your business is located outside the City limits, but business will be conducted within the City limits, it is required that you obtain a business license prior to commencing business. Submit the completed business license application to the Finance Division and pay the business license application fee and tax. You may contact the Finance Division at (805) 925-0951 extension 2422 and staff will calculate the business license fee for your type of business.

The City regulates certain types of businesses located within City limitsPrior to issuance of a business license, the following types of businesses require approval by various City departments and/or City Council. The approval process may take several weeks to complete.

• Entertainment (Good Neighbor Ordinance- see requirements)
• Parades
• Taxicabs
• Closing Out Sales
• Bingo
• Special Events • Itinerant Shows (Good Neighbor Ordinance- see requirements)
Mobile carwash


The following businesses require a police background investigation. The investigation may take up to 45 days to complete. For further information regarding the process for police background investigations contact the Santa Maria Police Department, Record Bureau at (805) 928-3781 extension 2590.

• Photographers
• Peddlers/Solicitors
• Sidewalk vendors
• Massage Therapist

Contractor Information:
If you are a contractor, you must have a valid California Contractor's License. To verify that your State Contractor's license is valid you may contact: the Contractor's State License Board at (800) 321-2752 or visit the Contractor's State License Board website at:

Disability Access

On October 11, 2017 Governor Brown signed into law AB-1379 which adds a state fee of $4 on any applicant for a local business license or similar instrument or permit, or renewal thereof starting on January 1, 2018 (CASP State Fee). The purpose is to increase certified access specialist (CASP) training and certification within the local jurisdictions and to facilitate compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements.

Under Federal and State law, compliance with disability access laws is a serious and significant responsibility that applies to all California building owners and tenants with buildings open to the public. You may obtain information about your legal obligations and how to comply with disability access laws at the following agencies:
The Division of the State Architect at
The Department of Rehabilitation at
The California Commission on Disability Access at

Disability Access Requirements and Resources as required by the State of California can be found at

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