Prior to commencing business within the City, every person or entity engaging in business, regardless of whether the business is subject to taxation or not, must apply, pay all applicable taxes, fees, assessments and obtain the appropriate approvals in order to procure a business license and any other regulatory permits. Upon City approval of the business license application and applicable regulatory permits, the Business License unit will issue a business license certificate.
Below are guides to assist you with successfully opening a business within Santa Monica:
For more information regarding business programs in Santa Monica, visit the City's Economic Development website.
Ways to apply for a business license
For fast and easy processing, click on the link above to apply online and follow these steps:
- Review all of the information provided on the introduction page.
- Download and complete all of the indicated forms for your location and business activity.
- Complete all of the requested fields in the application form. Be sure to describe your business activity in detail (this description determines your tax rate). If you have more than one activity, you may be required to submit a separate application for each activity.
- Upload any required forms and click on "Save & Continue".
- Review the application and edit if necessary.
- Click on "Submit Application".
To apply using a paper application, click on the link above to select the appropriate paper application and follow these steps:
- Select and download the appropriate business license application packet.
- Complete all of the fields in the application and any supplemental forms to the best of your knowledge.
- Be sure to describe your business activity in detail. If you have more than one activity, you may be required to submit a separate application for each activity.
- Review the application and edit if necessary.
- Sign and date the application.
- Submit the completed packet along with the payment amount listed on the application. You may submit your application via email, fax, postal mail or in person.
For electronic submissions (web, email, or fax), once the application is received and processed, a tax invoice will be sent with the amount owed. If your application is deemed a late filing, you will be subject to applicable prior year taxes, assessment, and penalties.
When the Business License Unit deems the application is complete and payment is received, the application will be routed to the appropriate City departments for review. Once the appropriate approvals are received, a business license certificate will be issued.
The following table summarizes the general business license tax, fees and assessments for new applicants. Depending upon the business activity and location, additional fees and assessments may apply.
2019-20 Summary for New Applicants
Minimum License Tax
Zoning Conformance Review Fee ¹
Regulatory Permit Fee ²
Potential Amount Due
|In-City Residential ³||$75.00||$4.00||$55.22||Varies||$134.22|
|In-City Commercial ³||$75.00||$4.00||$109.41||Varies||$188.41|
|Out of City Business||$75.00||$4.00||N/A||Varies||$79.00|
|Event Planner and Promoter ¤||$150.00||$4.00||N/A||Varies||$154.00|
¹ This fee is adjusted annually. To see the current rate, search the City's Fees & Rates database.
² Depending on your business activity, you may be required to pay for and obtain regulatory permits. For more information, see Associated Fees.
³ Some in-City small businesses are exempt from paying the minimum license tax. For more information, see the FAQs. Additionally, depending on the location of your business you may be subject to Business Improvement District Assessments.
¤ These rates are based on the number of units (i.e. vehicles or days). The minimum due will vary dependent on the number of units.
*State Mandated SB1186/AB1379 Fee: Certified Access Specialist program (CASp)
For more detailed information on estimating your potential tax and penalty as well reporting periods and deadlines see Tax and Penalty Assessment.
Important Information & Forms
- Commercial Business Application (operating in/from a commercial location in Santa Monica)
- Residential Business Application (operating in/from a residential location in Santa Monica)
- Lessor Application (leasing or subleasing of commercial or residential property in Santa Monica)
- Home-Sharing Application and program information (sharing your home for 30 days or less)
- Vending Information and Applications (vending from a vehicle or from the sidewalk)
- Event Planner Business Application (for all event planners and promoters)
- Out-of-City Business Application (for all other business activities)
- Business Improvement Districts (BID) Assessments
- Industrial Discharge (Wastewater) Permit Classification
Additional forms may be required, depending on the business activity. These forms can be downloaded from the Forms & Resources page.