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In Town Business Licenses

Applies to stores, offices, home-based businesses, and most other physical locations in city limits (verify your location is in city limits on our zoning map)

Applying For a Business License

For new licenses or changes in location or ownership, we offer online registration.

After your application is received, you will receive a follow-up email with additional information that is needed to process the application. Most in-town business license applications are reviewed by the Planning Division for compliance with zoning regulations. If your business is required to get a Conditional Use Permit, the Planning Department will contact you separately with instructions on how to apply for that permit.

Once the application is approved and all required information is received, you will receive an email with a link to the payment portal. Once payment is made your new certificate will be issued via email.

Business License Tax Information

General in-town business licenses are issued per calendar year (January 1st - December 31st), and tax-exempt business licenses are issued per fiscal year (July 1st - June 30th). If your business starts part-way through the year, the license fees will be pro-rated for you.

Depending on the location and type of business, commercial business license applications may also be reviewed by Fire Inspectors.  You may be assessed a Fire Inspection Fee on your business license renewal.  You are entitled to schedule an annual inspection at a mutually convenient time.

For home-based businesses please review the Home Occupation Handout , as there are certain restrictions that apply to home-based businesses.

If you relocate your business from one location to another within city limits, please submit a new business license application for review by zoning and fire safety officials.

Business License Application Fees

A processing fee must be included with the first year of licensing fees. Below are the application fees that may apply.

  • Commercial Application - $118
  • Relocated Commercial Application - $98
  • Home Occupation Application - $88
  • Relocated Home Occupation Application - $68
  • Space Application - $40
  • Change of Ownership - $10

Renewal Reminders

We have gone paperless! As a courtesy we will email your renewal reminder around 3 weeks before your expiration date to the email address on file. This email will have a direct link to the renewal portal along with the account number and PIN that you will need to log in. You can renew without penalty up to 45 days after your expiration date. For example, if your license expires 12/31/2023 you have until 02/15/2024 to renew without penalty.

If you have moved, changed ownership, or have any questions about your renewal, please contact us at or (415) 485-3051 before renewing.

Building Improvement District (BID)

In the downtown area, there is a Business Improvement District (BID), which is comprised of standard and premium zones.  If you are thinking of starting up a business downtown, you might want to review the map below to see if your address falls within either of the zones.  If so, you may be charged a BID assessment on your business license renewal. For more information regarding the BID please visit Downtown San Rafael – Business Improvement District

Stormwater Discharge Compliance

For California State Mandates that could affect your business visit State Business Notices (

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