Develop a Business Plan
A business plan is the first step to starting a successful business. Though not a requirement to obtain the Business License, a business plan will help you evaluate your idea, estimate costs, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal. If you need help creating a business plan, the UC Merced Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a great resource and can help! Register for their free services on their website by clicking on the button below.
Location, Location, Location
Before finalizing your business location or signing a lease agreement, contact a Planner with the City of Los Banos Community & Economic Development Department at (209) 827-2432 to determine if your business operations conform to the zoning district of your proposed location. All businesses must be located in areas that allow their types of business activity. Staff will help you determine if your business is a compatible use for a particular location and whether any prior special approvals are necessary. For example, some businesses may require approval of a Conditional Use Permit or Mobile Food Vendor Permit prior to the filing of a Business License application.
Our ZoningCheck portal is a simplified tool that shows where a particular use is allowed. Just enter the type of use and the address, and the tool will tell you whether the use is allowed. Click the “Learn More” button and you can see additional information on the zoning for the property.
Use the ZoningCheck portal by clicking on the button below to check where your business operations are permitted. Once you have a location identified, contact a Planner to verify that the zoning and land use are compatible.
If your business will be operating from a commercial location within city limits, will there be any tenant improvements that require building permits prior to occupancy? If so, you will need to obtain a Building Permit, clear the inspections, and get a final approval prior to Business License issuance. In addition, the business must clear the fire inspection prior to Business License issuance. Note that the first two fire inspections are complimentary; the third fire inspection and each additional inspection will be charged to the business owner. All fees must be paid prior to Business License issuance.
Business Licenses are non-transferable. If the business is moving to a new location or if the ownership of the business is changing, you must file a new Business License application and cancel the previous Business License.
Determine Your Business Structure
It is important to determine the legal structure of your business for operating and business reporting purposes. Will you operate your business as a sole proprietor, general partnership (2 or more owners), corporation (1 or more stockholders/officers), or limited liability company? You will need to make this determination in order to clarify what formation documents, if any, would be required by the State. An attorney or Certified Public Accountant can advise what is best for you.
Register a Fictitious Business Name
If you create a name for your business that is different than your own legal name or the legal name of your corporation or limited liability company, then you need to register the business name with the Merced County Clerk’s Office. This step needs to be completed prior to obtaining a Business License from the City of Los Banos.
All businesses are required to file tax returns. Contact the State Franchise Tax Board and the Federal Internal Revenue Service to learn more about specific requirements.
If you plan to sell or rent tangible products, you must register with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration for a Seller’s Permit, Resale License or Wholesalers License. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) can assist you in determining if you need a Seller’s Permit.
Apply for a City of Los Banos Business License
If you are planning to open a new business, relocate your business, operate a business from your home, or conduct any business operations within the City of Los Banos, you are required to obtain a Business License prior to commencing business operations. Click on the “Apply!” tab above to find out how to file a Business License application today!
Other Los Banos Permits & Licenses
Your business may require additional permits or coordination with another agency or department to verify education, insurance, and/or livescan criminal history information prior to issuance of a Business License. Some of these approvals may be required prior to obtaining a Business License: Solicitation Permit, Mobile Food Vendor Permit, Sidewalk Vendor Permit, Cottage Food Operator Permit, Massage Establishment Permit, Massage Therapist Registration, Taxicab Business Permit, and Taxicab Driver Permit. You will need to determine if any permits, licenses, registrations or information are required prior to submitting an application for a Business License.
A Sign Review from the Community Development Department will be required if your business will be installing any signage that is visible from outside the building. Some signage will also require a Building Permit from the Building Department.
Other Agency Permits & Licenses
Depending on the type of business, you may be required to obtain permits or licenses from other county, state or federal agencies. Many professional occupations, such as accountants, cosmetologists, optometrists, realtors, contractors, and businesses such as automotive repair, liquor sales, pest control, real estate appraisers, to name a few, require additional State licensing.
Contact these individual agencies directly, if applicable.
- Restaurants, Food Vendors, Beauty Salons, Tattoo Parlors, Medical/Dental/Veterinary Offices: A Health Permit and inspection is required for restaurants and food vendors, motels/hotels/inns with a pool and/or jetted tubs, tattoo parlors, beauty salons that offer semi-permanent makeup, and medical/detal/veterinary officers who handle hazardous waste. Contact the Merced County Department of Environmental Health for information regarding a Health Permit.
- Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) License: No person may directly or indirectly, on any pretense, sell, barter, charge for possession or otherwise dispose of alcoholic beverages as part of a commercial transaction without having obtained the proper license or permit. To learn more about these requirements and apply for a permit, contact the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
- California Department of Consumer Affairs License: Many professional businesses, such as accountants, engineers, doctors and dentists, require a State license from the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Businesses such as barbers, cosmetologists, security services and auto repairs are also required to obtain a State license. Contact the California Department of Consumer Affairs to find out more information about the regulating agencies and to apply for a license.
- State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB): Businesses operating under specific Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes (generally those between 0211 and 5171) must obtain coverage under the SWRCB Industrial General Permit. For more information and specific requirements, visit their website.
When Should an Application be Submitted?
A Business License application must be filed and issued prior to commencement of business operations.
Where is My Business License Valid?
Your Business License is valid only within the city limits of Los Banos – while doing business from your commercial / professional location, your residence, or when you are providing services to a resident or business within the city limits.
A Business License does not authorize you to operate a business that is otherwise prohibited by federal or state law or local ordinance.
When Do I Renew My Business License?
Annual Business Licenses are valid for 12 months from the date of issuance, expire on the last day of the month, and are renewed annually. The City mails courtesy renewal invoice notices during the first week of the month in which the Business License expires. Renewal charges are due by the expiration date.
Any business that requires licenses, permits, or registrations from any federal, state, or regional agencies must submit a copy of such license, permit, and/or registration with their renewal payment (i.e. Contractor’s License, Cosmetology License, Health Permit, Fictitious Business Name Statement, etc.) Failure to do so will delay processing of the renewed Business License and may result in revocation of the Business License.
Upon verification of any other required licenses and/or permits and processing of the renewal, the Business License will be issued and mailed to the address on file.
Penalty Charges & Cancellation
Business License renewal payments received after the expiration date are subject to a penalty fee of 50% of the applicable Business License fee(s). The Business License is subject to cancellation after 30 days of delinquency.
If you want to cancel the Business License, either sign and return the bottom of the renewal invoice to the address on the invoice or complete the Business License Cancellation form at the button below and return it to the address on the form. Once the Business License is cancelled, the City will no longer invoice you for renewal.
Gaining or Expanding Your Workforce
If you hire employees, be sure to register with the California Employment Development Department. They will provide you with the necessary forms and answer any questions regarding your responsibilities. As an employer, the State requires you to do the following:
- Withhold State income tax,
- Withhold State disability insurance,
- Pay unemployment tax, and
- Pay for any employment training costs.
You must also register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in order to receive an Employer Identification Number. The IRS offers many services to new business owners and will provide a package of helpful information explaining the types of forms used and due dates for these forms.
As an employer, you are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance. You may obtain this insurance through your own insurance agent or the State Compensation Insurance Fund of California (SCIF).
Will Your Business Have Signage?
If your business will have any external signage, either permanent or temporary, you must obtain a Sign Review by the Community & Economic Development Department – contact a Planner at (209) 827-2432 regarding the Sign Review process.
In addition, your signage may require a Building Permit from the Building Department – contact them at (209) 827-7000 ext. 1300 to find out if you need one.
Issuance of Commercial Business Licenses will be contingent upon clearance of any pertinent Fire, Building, and/or Code Enforcement inspections and payment for these inspections or any delinquent fees owed.
The Fire Department Annual Business Self-Inspection Checklist is a tool to assist you in providing a fire safe environment to your employees and customers and is intended to assist you in preparation for your initial and annual fire inspections – get the checklist by clicking on the button below. This self-checklist covers some of the most common violations found during inspections. This is not a complete list and the Inspector may identify other conditions or issues in the building that require attention. The initial inspection and first re-inspection are at no additional cost to the business owner. Additional Fire inspections will be charged to the business owner at the rate of $144.22 per re-inspection. All fees must be paid prior to Business License issuance. Questions can be directed to the Fire Department at (209) 827-7025.
Starting Water/Garbage Services for a Commercial Business
Contact the Finance Department at (209) 827-7000 to request water/garbage services.
Reach Out to Us!
Have a question? Get in touch with the Community & Economic Development Department!
Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit us in person at City Hall at 520 J Street, Los Banos, CA 93635.
We’re also here for you by phone at (209) 827-2431.
Business Hours are Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.