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

Visit the Business Assistance Center

270 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612

Date Posted: January 17th, 2020 @ 1:31 PM
Last Updated: January 23rd, 2020 @ 4:42 PM

This is a general overview of permits and licenses needed to operate a business in Oakland. For specific information on your business activity, please use our online business permit tool. Through a series of easy-to-answer questions, you can quickly learn what types of City licenses and permits are required and how much the related fees will be.

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 ($56)

As you look at locations for your business, be sure to use our online Zoning Check tool or call the Zoning Hotline 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).