Business License

Determine if you need one

What is a Business License?

Anyone who wishes to start a business within the City of Long Beach needs a business license. The City of Long Beach issues business licenses that allows individuals or companies to conduct business within the city limits. A business license ensures the business is operating safely for its customers.

Applying for a Business License

For more information about license types, license costs, or to apply for a business license:

Open Counter

Through our tool Open Counter, you can learn what types of licenses and permits may be required for your business type. We also provide cost estimates.

Do I need a Business License?

Any person engaging in business in Long Beach must obtain a business license. This includes engaging in commercial, professional, or trade activities. Renting or leasing residential or commercial space also requires a business license. This can include very small businesses like pet sitting or selling cartoons on the beach. Home based businesses, nonprofits, and independent contractors receiving a 1099 tax form are all examples of cases where you need a business license. If you are unsure if you need a business license, contact the city’s Business License Department:

Moving Your Business from Another City

If you are relocating your business into Long Beach from another city, you must get a City of Long Beach business license. Business licenses from other cities are not valid within the City of Long Beach. If you have questions about licenses from other cities, please contact them directly.

Businesses on Public vs. Private Property

If you want to open a business on private commercial property, you need to talk with the Planning Department. They will check the zoning code to see if your business can operate at that location. (Example: A Starbucks inside a grocery store or a vendor stand)

If you want to open a business on public property, like a sidewalk, you need to talk to the Planning Department. They will check the zoning code to see if your business can operate at that location. Locations like parks, may need approval from the City of Long Beach Parks, Rec, and Marine Department. The easiest way to see of your business is allowed is to speak with someone at the Zoning desk on the 4th floor of City Hall. The busiest times are in the morning when they first open and around lunchtime. If you can plan your visit outside of peak times, you may have a shorter wait. You can also call the Planning Department.

Open Hours: 7:30 am to 4:30 pm

Home-Based Businesses

If you have a home based business you still need to obtain a business license. A home based business is any business being conducted out of your home including administrative tasks such as record keeping, billing, or scheduling. If you perform any business tasks out of your home, even if you travel outside the city to conduct part of your business, you will still need a home based business license.

Home based businesses have to abide by the following rules and you will have to sign a form agreed that you abide by the following rules:

  • The primary use of this location is for your home. Only residents can be employees of a home based business. The maximum number of employees allowed is two residents.
  • No signs are allowed. This includes vehicles with business signs. Those vehicles will need to be parked so they can not be seen by the public.
  • No mechanical equipment other than what is typically used in a home is allowed. Make sure this equipment does not create loud noises that will disturb the neighbors.
  • No toxic, explosive, flammable, combustible, corrosive, etiologic, radioactive, or other restricted materials are allowed.
  • No more than two vehicles can be used in the business. Only one of those vehicles may be commercially licensed.
  • No office or business shall be conducted from a garage location. Smoke detectors need to be centrally located in hallways leading to bedrooms or above the stairs if bedrooms are on an upper level. Each bedroom requires a separate smoke detector.

If you are a home-based business you will need to print, sign, and submit the Home Occupation Standard Rles of Operation form with your business license application.

If these rules interfere with your business, we recommend finding another place better zoned for your business. Visit the zoning page to learn more.

What about Lyft/Uber, Airbnb, Marijuana Businesses, Online businesses etc?

Lyft / Uber Drivers

Lyft, Uber and other Transportation Network Companies (TNC's) are overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The City of Long Beach is not allowed to license this type of business. The State of California licenses and oversees them. If you do work from your home for a TNC that does not involve driving, you will need to get a home-based business license. Also, if you live in Long Beach and do any business from your home, you must get a home-based business license.

Airbnb VRBO, & other short-term rentals

Do folks that rent their properties on Airbnb need a business license?

Currently no, we are not licensing Airbnb businesses since our current zoning ordinance does not allow for this type of use, so essentially all the Airbnb’s that are currently operating in Long Beach are doing so illegally.

Marijuana Dispensaries

Currently there is still a ban in place so the City is not not accepting applications for marijuana businesses at this time.

Volunteering

If you volunteer and a business transaction is made, you need a business license. All vendors doing business with the City of Long Beach are required to have a business license in Long Beach.

Donations-based business

If you ask for donations, we have a charitable solicitation license (J License Class) which requires a permit, background check, and fee from the Police Department.

Online (Internet) Business

If you or any of your employees have a physical presence in Long Beach, you need a business license. A physical presence includes a business property located in Long Beach, a home-based business located in Long Beach, or employees from a business located outside of Long Beach coming into Long Beach to work for even 1 day.

What happens if I don’t obtain a business license and I open my business?

If you opened your business and did not realize you need a business license, do not worry. All you need to do is apply for a business license with the City. All required paperwork should be submitted with the application. The requirements for your specific business can be found on the Apply for a Business License Page. The business license tax owed will be from the date the business opened to the current year.

If the City discovers a business is operating without a license, the city will send out an inspector to verify. The inspector will give the business owner information on how to apply and give a deadline when to submit the application. If the business does not apply for a business license within the time specified, the inspector can issue a misdemeanor citation to the business owner. The business owner would then go to court to be issued a penalty fee and/or jail time.

How do I report if a business doesn’t have a license?

If you think a business is operating without a business license, search for the business on BizLicense. When you sign in anonymously, you can search by business name or business address. If you cannot find the business on BizLicense, contact the Business License Department to do a search for the business.