Business License Support
M-F: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
City of Santa Barbara, CA
c/o Avenu Insights & Analytics
373 East Shaw Avenue, Box 367
Fresno, CA 93710
Billing / Cashier
City Hall, Business Office
735 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Public Counter Hours
M-Th: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
Alt. Fri: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
M-Th: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Alt. Fri: 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Business License FAQs
If you have a question that is not on the following list, please contact our office. Contact information and hours of operation can be found on the sidebar.
A Business License Tax is an annual tax you pay each fiscal year for doing business within the incorporated area of the City of Santa Barbara (City). The City's municipal code requires that you obtain a license PRIOR to conducting any business activity within the City - even if your business is located outside the city limits or you have a business license from another city. The Business License Tax Certificate, is evidence only that your tax has been paid. Other permits may be required to open your business. A separate tax certificate is required for each type of business at the same location or for each branch location. Receipt of a Business License does not constitute an endorsement of the business, nor does it grant permission to conduct business at any place prohibited by the City's Zoning Ordinances or any other Federal, State, or Local regulation.
Starting in the business license year 2023, licenses are valid for the calendar year (January-December).
Yes. However, it is your responsibility to obtain a current tax certificate whether or not a renewal notice is received. Penalties are assessed for delinquent accounts, regardless of whether you receive a renewal notice or not. If you do NOT receive a notice by the expiration date of your Business License Tax Certificate, please be sure to contact Avenu Insights & Analytics.
Every business must meet zoning and building requirements to ensure that its business category and site are compatible BEFORE SIGNING any leases contact our Zoning Department for further information. (Located at 630 Garden St.)
Please check with the Community Development Department before using or installing ANY type of sign: wall, window, banners, even balloons. Temporary signs require review and approval prior to issuance of permits and installation.
Yes. Businesses operated from the home also require payment of a business license tax. The City’s Zoning Ordinance regulates the type of business operations that may be done in the home.
Yes. Municipal Code says that if you represent business conduct at an address in the City, that is prima facie evidence of business conduct, therefore requiring a business license. The City requires businesses who use a Post Office box or a Commercial Mail Receiving Agency (CMRA) using a City of Santa Barbara address to obtain business licenses.
Yes, property owners receiving rent are required to obtain a business license tax certificate. An owner with 3 or more residential units and/or owns commercial property need to file for a business license based on rents received.
Gross receipts are what you receive such as cash, credit, and/or property taken in lieu of cash payments for the goods or services that you sell.
But my business does not generate any gross receipts.
See description of business, on the application, for the corresponding letter code to determine your Business License Tax, if you need assistance, please contact Finance staff.
But, I don't make much money. It’s a very small business.
Even if you conduct business on a part-time, limited, or hobby-related basis, you are required to obtain a current business license. Note: if your business earns zero gross receipts, it is assumed you are conducting business, until you notify the City of its closure. Contact Finance staff if you have any further questions or concerns.
Check with the City’s Community Development to determine what building modifications, if any, may be necessary for your business type. Usually, a fire inspector will visit your business in order to verify that your building or tenant area meets Fire and Building Code requirements and will issue your business location.
Yes. If your business name is anything other than your surname or has more than one owner. Contact the County of Santa Barbara Hall of Records (805) 568-2933.
No. The City business "license" and your State license serve entirely different purposes. The regulatory licensing of certain trades rests entirely with the State of California. The City of Santa Barbara does not regulate, in any way, these industries. If your relationship to you employer is that of an "independent contractor" or you are self-employed and working in the City, you need to pay the City business tax.
No, any person who conducts business in the City must obtain a City of Santa Barbara business license tax certificate. The County of Santa Barbara is responsible for jurisdictions not Incorporated, such as Isla Vista, Montecito, Santa Ynez and Summerland.
Yes. Anyone that drives for Uber, Lyft, or another Transportation Network Company (TNC) and resides in the City of Santa Barbara, and has operated for more than 30 days in the preceding fiscal year is required to register for a business license which is renewed annually. The fiscal year starts on July 1.
Information regarding Downtown Improvement District is located in our Business License Tax Application, located on the sidebar.
Information regarding PBIA is located in our Business License Tax Application, located on the sidebar.
Changes must be made in writing by mail or email to Avenu Insights & Analytics. Be sure to provide contact information in case there are questions. Requests for changes can be made in-person. Picture ID is required when making changes in person. See contact information in the sidebar.
Unfortunately, no. Each city has its own business license tax requirements and you must have a business license from the jurisdiction business is being conducted in.
Change of ownership will require a new Business License Tax Certificate. Proof of ownership, escrow papers, etc., will need to accompany the new application. Open date is the date the ownership took effect.
If you are no longer conducting business, please send notice by e-mail or in writing to Avenu Insights & Analytics and provide the business name, address, certificate number, and the date you stopped conducting business in the City. Please provide contact information, should we have any questions.
- If you hold a state license with a local address, it will need to be inactivated in order to close the local business license. This also applies to business entities on file with the Secretary of State (Corp/LLC).
- If you sold your business, please provide the escrow closing date and the new owners name, address, phone number.
- If you are moving away, and plan to return to Santa Barbara to work with your clients, a valid City of Santa Barbara business license tax certificate is required.
Attention: we do not automatically cancel your license if we don’t hear from you. We assume your payment is late and continue to send Billing Notices. Eventually your business name is placed on our delinquent list. So, please let us know, in writing, if you want your license canceled.
- Illegal Activity: Police Department (805) 897-2300
- County Health Dept. food & drink establishments (805) 681-4900
- Better Business Bureau (805) 963-8657
- Zoning and Building Code enforcement line (805) 897-2676