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Finance Department
Finance Department

Essential Business License Information & Requirements

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

Rental Properties Located in Berkeley

All owners of commercial rental property, or residential property with three or more dwelling units on any parcel, 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 Current 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 Current 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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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 kind of 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 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 taxeson 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 1st 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 (7.93.030) received from all business activities within the City during the preceding fiscal year.

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Renewals for Businesses Already Licensed

The City of Berkeley mails annual renewal notices to all business owners of record as a courtesy. Your Business License must be renewed on an annual calendar basis, with your renewal form and payment due on January 1st of every year. If you have not received your Business License Renewal Form by early January, please contact Customer Service. However, if you do not receive this annual reminder, you are still responsible for the timely filing of your business license renewal.

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.

*Note: For access to the Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC), links will take you to the City’s BMC site where you can browse the BMC in .pdf format, or search the BMC using Records Online. Search tips are available from the BMC site.

See also:

For further information on the Business License process, please contact or visit:

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Finance Department, 1947 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7200
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