County Business Licenses

Who can use this service?

Individuals or corporations who sell merchandise or provide a service for a fee in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County (outside city limits) may need this service.

Is there a charge for this service?

Currently, most County Business Licenses require a $36 application fee. Most licenses then require a $27 renewal fee annually (a $1 required fee for the State Disability Access program is included in the application fee and renewal fee).

Certain special license types require additional fees. Please contact the ACTTC to confirm specific license fees.

What is the process?

Step 1: Information to bring to apply for a license

  • Name of Business
  • Name and Address of Owner of Business Location (if not the same as applicant)
  • Name of Corporation Officers and Address of Home Office
  • Mail Order Business may be requested to submit a copy of its catalog for review
  • If you are not the owner of the physical location of your business, the County Department of Planning and Building may require a written statement from the owner of the property granting permission to operate the business at that location.

Step 2: Receive approval for land use

Once you have applied for a County Business License, you will need to be approved by the County Department of Planning and Building for a Land Use Authorization.

  • Visit the Department of Planning and Building at 976 Osos Street (Old County Courthouse).
  • If you are not the property owner for the business location, please bring written authorization from the property owner for your proposed business use.

Step 3: Receive approval from any other required agencies

Certain business types may require additional review and approval from other agencies. For example, a restaurant will require an inspection and permit from the County Health Agency.

Tax Collector staff will be happy to review your County Business License application with you and direct you to the appropriate agencies.

When and where is this service offered?

This service is available throughout the year during regular business hours except during scheduled holidays.

 

Renew an existing Business License

Location, directions and hours of operation

Click on location name to show hours of operation, directions and phone information

New Government Center

Monday - Friday 8-5

1055 Monterey Street Room D290 San Luis Obispo, CA 93408

Tel: (805) 781-5831

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a County Business License?

Individuals or corporations who sell merchandise or provide a service for a fee in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County (outside city limits) may need a County Business License.

In addition, individuals who initiate contact by any method (telephone, mail, or in person) for the purpose of presenting merchandise or performing a service at a later date may need a Solicitor's License. Any retailer selling tobacco products in the unincorporated areas of San Luis Obispo County must have a valid Tobacco Retailer's License for each location in addition to their County Business License.

Where do I apply for a County Business License?

To apply for a County Business License, an applicant must appear in person at the Tax Collector's Office 1055 Monterey Street, Room D-290

What information do I need to bring with me?

Please bring the following information when applying for a County Business License:

  • Name of business
  • Name and address of owner of business premise
  • Name of corporation officers and address of home office
  • Mail order business may be requested to submit a copy of its catalog for review
  • If you are not the owner of the physical location of the business, the County Department of Planning and Building may require a written statement from the owner of the property granting permission to operate the business at that location.
What happens if I operate without a County Business License?

Each day a business is operated without a County Business license, or is operated in violation of the provisions of the County Ordinance, shall constitute a separate offense. Each offense is punishable by up to six (6) months in County Jail or a fine of up to $500.

How long is my license valid?

Most County Business Licenses are issued for a period of up to one year. Certain licenses, particularly those for special events, are issued for a shorter period of time.

Does a Vacation Rental or other lodging establishment need a County Business License?

Yes. A vacation rental operating in the unincorporated area of San Luis Obispo County requires a special kind of business license. See Vacation Rental Licensing service for additional information.

What is the contact information for the City Business License Departments?

The City Business License Department contact information is as follows:

Is my County Business License transferable?

County Business Licenses are not transferable. Changes in ownership, business name, nature of business, or location must be reported IMMEDIATELY and are subject to the approvals of other agencies.

Will I need a fictitious business name?

If a name other than your own is used for the business, a Fictitious Business Name must be registered with the San Luis Obispo County Clerk-Recorder within forty (40) days of starting the business. Banks usually typically require evidence of a fictitious business name prior to opening an account in the name of the business.

Will I need a resale license?

Sales or use tax may apply to your business activities.  You may seek written advice regarding the application of tax to your business by writing to the nearest Board of Equalization Office.

What if I hire employees?

Firms with employees must register with the Employment Development Department (EDD) for Unemployment Insurance (UI), State Disability Insurance (SDI), State Income Tax Withholding, and with the Internal Revenue Service for a Federal Income Tax Withholding Identification Number. State Law also requires that businesses with employees must carry Workers' Compensation Insurance.

What happens if I operate without a County Business License?

EACH DAY a business is operated without a County Business License, or is operated in violation of the provisions of the County Ordinance, shall constitute a separate offense. EACH OFFENSE is punishable by up to six (6) months in County Jail or a fine of up to $500.

What happens if my business moves or otherwise changes location?

County Business Licenses are site specific, since they require a land use authorization in order to operate a business at a particular location. Accordingly, if a business changes location, a new County Business License application is required.

 

If a business moves to one of the incorporated cities, the County Business License holder must inactive or cancel their County Business License and contact the city to which the business is moving.

Contact information for the licensing authority in the incorporated cities:

Are there any exemptions from holding a County Business License?

California Law exempts certain individuals or businesses from obtaining a County Business License or exempts them from the fee associated with the County Business License. Contact the Business License Clerk at (805) 781-5832 for exemption requirements.