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Finance Department
Finance Department

Essential Business License Information & Requirements

 

Important Information Regarding Business License Renewals

All renewals and payments must be submitted or postmarked by February 29, 2020 to avoid penalty and interest. 

The last day to walk-in to the Customer Service Center to renew and pay your business license without penalty and interest is on Thursday, February 27, 2020. We accept payment by cash, check, debit card or credit card (Visa and MasterCard only) at the Customer Service Center. The Customer Service Center is located on the 1st floor at 1947 Center Street. The hours of operation are Monday thru Thursday, 8:30 to 4:00. The Customer Service Center is closed every Friday and on City holidays.  

Other options to renew and pay your business license:

  • Drop your renewal form and payment (checks only) in the designated drop-box on February 28, 2020 before 5pm in the lobby at 1947 Center Street.

  • Mail your renewal form and check to City of Berkeley, 1947 Center Street, 1st Floor,  Berkeley, CA  94704 by February 29, 2020 (postmarks accepted).
 

 


 

All businesses operating in the City of Berkeley are required to have a current business license for each location. If you are opening a new business, buying an existing business, or transferring a business to your ownership, you must apply for a new business license under your name. The following information provides an overview of the City's Business License requirements.


New Business License Applications

Mail your completed application, including a check for the applicable fees to:

Finance Department
Revenue Collection
1947 Center Street, 1st Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704 

If you prefer to complete the application in person, you are welcome to visit the Customer Service Center at 1947 Center Street, 1st Floor.  The hours of operation are Monday to Thursday, 8:30AM to 4:00PM.

Please visit How to Obtain Your New Business License for specific information and procedures.


Rental Properties Located in Berkeley

All owners of commercial rental property, residential property with three or more dwelling units on any parcel, or owners of five or more residential rental units, are required to obtain a business license. If property with three or more units is totally owner occupied, the owners must still submit an annual business license stating the property remains owner occupied. In addition, any person who provides lodging for longer than 14 days for five or more persons, must maintain a current business license.

Home-based Businesses

Any business operating from a home in Berkeley, including internet and mail order businesses, requires a business license and Zoning approval from Planning at the Permit Service Center. A business that entails heavy foot or vehicle traffic, as well as certain other conditions, may be prohibited in a residential neighborhood.

  • For more information, contact Planning staff at (510) 981-7410.

Street Artist-Vendor Screening

Any new street artist/vendor must go through a screening process; once approved, a business license is required.  Please review the check list for requirements.  For more information, contact Customer Service at (510) 981-7200.

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Contractors

All contractors doing business in Berkeley must have an active business license before applying for a building permit.  If in the future you are no longer doing business in Berkeley, you must complete and file a Closing Business Statement.

Businesses Located Outside of Berkeley

If you do not have or maintain any physical presence in Berkeley in the course of your business activities, you may still need a Berkeley business license. Contact Customer Service for further information about requirements at (510) 981-7200.

Closing Business Statement

You must complete and file a closing business declaration if you are conducting business in Berkeley and close a location or transfer ownership or if in the future you are no longer doing business in Berkeley. Contact Customer Service at (510) 981-7200 for more information.

Business License Exemptions

Organizations operating wholly for the benefit of charitable purposes, and those exempt from filing information returns under 26 U.S.C. § 6033 (a) (2) are exempt from payment of business license taxes on gross receipts, but is required to pay the $26 fee per BMC 9.04.230 (c).  A charitable organization must receive and maintain a current business license, and is subject to an annual renewal and statement affirming its status as a charitable organization, based on the criteria in this chapter, by February 1 of each year. 

Non profits located in the Downtown Business Improvement Districts (DBID) must pay the DBID fee based upon Earned Income – defined as gross revenue from ticket and product sales, and fees for service, not including grants, government contracts, contributions, or loans (7.96.040) received from all business activities within the City during the preceding fiscal year.

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Renewals for Businesses Already Licensed

Business licenses expires on December 31 of each year and renewals are due and payable on the first day of January of each year. A renewal notice is sent out as a courtesy to all active business license holders in the City’s database at least 30 days before the expiration date. However, if you do not receive this annual reminder, you are still responsible for the timely filing of your business license renewal, which is due to the Finance Department by January 1, with a grace period until February 28. 

If full payment is not received/postmarked before March 1, a 10% penalty of the outstanding tax balance is added.  If full payment is not received/postmarked before April 1, an additional 40% penalty of the outstanding tax balance is added.  Interest at the rate of 1% per month on the amount of fees and penalties continue to accrue until the balance is paid in full

Please download and complete the appropriate renewal form below. 

If you would like to pick up or return a completed form, visit the Customer Service Counter at 1947 Center Street, 1st Floor.  The hours of operation are Monday to Thursday, 8:30AM to 4:00PM.Please visit Business License Renewal Information & Assistance for more information.


Useful Information & Contacts for Your Business License

The City of Berkeley has various requirements and regulations for operating a business. It is your responsibility to maintain all necessary approvals, permits, and licenses, and to pay all taxes and fees associated with your particular business.

Become familiar with Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC), BMC Section 9.04* on Business Licenses and Regulations. Copies of the BMC are at all branches of the Berkeley Public Library, and you may also access the BMC and Zoning Ordinance on the City’s website. The BMC is an excellent source of information on business licenses, definitions of terms, business classifications, business license tax rates, and allowable deductions to gross receipts.

See also:

 

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Finance Department, 1947 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: finance@cityofberkeley.info Phone: (510) 981-7200
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903
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