Steps to Starting a Business in Oakland

Listed below are the general steps to starting a business in Oakland. Remember, the staff at the Business Assistance Center are available to assist you.

Take the Online Assessment
Request Assistance Online
Call the Business Assistance Center

City staff are here to assist business owners and entrepreneurs -- book your free 30-minute appointment at any of 7 Neighborhood Business Assistance locations through December 2022.

This is a general overview of permits and licenses needed to operate a business in Oakland.

It's also important that you create a Business Plan that describes your product or service, your startup financing needs and how they'll be met, and the steps to reach profitability and future goals.

Step 1 - File your Fictitious Business Name with Alameda County ($40)

If you are a sole proprietorship doing business under a name not containing the owners' surname, a partnership or a corporation doing business under a name other than it's legal name, you must file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with the County of Alameda.

Step 2 - Get Zoning Clearance ($58.52)

As you look at locations for your business, call the Zoning Hotline at (510) 238-3911 to see what type of business activities are allowed at that address.

Once you have selected your business location in Oakland, you will need to Apply for a Zoning Clearance Permit. Even if you're operating a home-based business, you will need a Zoning Clearance. You can:

Step 3- Get a City of Oakland Business License ($95)

Every business in Oakland, including home-based businesses and property owners who rent residential or commercial space, need to file a Business Tax Certificate and pay an annual tax. You can:

Step 4 - Get a State of California Seller's Permits (No Cost)

If your business will sell or lease tangible items, you must get a State of California Seller's Permit. If you will only sell items during temporary periods, you must apply for a temporary seller's permit. You can:

Step 5 - Get Alameda County Health Permits (Varies by Permit)

Certain types of businesses, mostly those businesses preparing or selling food, will need permits from the Alameda County Department of Environmental Health. This includes mobile food vendors, food carts, food trucks, commercial kitchens and restaurants.

Step 6 - Apply for your Federal Tax ID Number or Employer ID Number

The Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to business entities operating in the United States. When the number is used for identification rather than employment tax reporting, it is usually referred to as a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), and when used for the purposes of reporting employment taxes, it is usually referred to as an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Posted: January 17th, 2020 1:31 PM

Last Updated: June 13th, 2022 1:39 PM

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