San Luis Obispo County

State of California and Federal regulations and permits need to be properly followed for a business to co-exist peacefully within the community.  SCORE always advises its business clients to consult with an attorney and an accountant in order to make certain that business standards are properly followed.

Business License

Title 6 of the San Luis Obispo County Ordinance provides for regulation of businesses operating in the Unincorporated Areas of the County.  Individuals and corporations who sell merchandise or provide a service for a fee in the unincorporated areas of the county (outside city limits) may need a county business license.  In certain instances a Solicitor’s license may be required.

Applicants must appear in person the Business License Department (Room 203) of the County Government Center.  The Business License Clerk will prepare and application and direct you to the proper department(s) for approval.  When the approvals are completed and the fee is paid the license is issued.


Business License Department
(805) 781-5832

County Health Permits

If your business will involve the handling of foods, you must consult the Environmental Health office and obtain a permit.  Permits do not transfer if you take over an existing food business.


Environmental Health
(805) 781-5544

DBA – Fictitious Business Names

California law requires that every person who regularly transacts business for profit under a fictitious name, file and publish a fictitious business name statement.


County Clerk Recorder
(805) 781-5080

Property Taxes

You will be contacted automatically by the County Assessor’s Office.  As owner of record, you will automatically be sent a tax bill.  Tangible personal property exceeding $30,000 is also taxable.


County Assessor
(805) 781-5643

State of California

Alcoholic Beverage Control

If your business intends to sell alcoholic beverages, contact:

State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
(805) 543-7183

Business Formation

There are different forms of legal structure to choose from for your business.  Each structure has certain advantages and disadvantages.  For filing information and forms contact

California Secretary of State Filing & Services Division
(916) 657-5448


If you plan to engage in the construction industry, contact the State License Board to determine what special permits or licenses are required.

Contractor’s State License Board
(800) 321-2752

Department of Industrial Relations
(213) 576-7750

Insurance/Workers’ Compensation

Firms with employees must register with the Employment Development Department (EDD) for Unemployment Insurance, Disability Insurance, and State Income Tax Withholding; and with the Internal Revenue Service for a Federal Income Tax Withholding Identification Number.  If you have employees, Worker’s Compensation insurance is mandatory under California law.

All businesses should consider insurance coverage for general liability, product liability, fire and similar disasters, robbery and theft.  Fidelity bonding should be considered for employees who handle cash receipts or other funds.

California Department of Workers’ Compensation
(805) 481-3296

Safety and Health Regulations

There are laws that set employee safety standards designed to prevent injuries arising from unsafe or unhealthy working conditions.  Small employers (less than 10 employees) may be exempt from some of the CAL-OSHA requirements, but all businesses are required to have an Injury Illness Prevention Plan.

(800) 963-9424

Seller’s Permit/Resale Number

Every business that will sell or lease tangible personal property (merchandise) to customers must obtain a seller’s permit from the

State Board of Equalization
(800) 400-7115

State Licenses

The State of California imposes license requirements and fees on certain businesses and professions.  The Department of Consumer Affairs grants most licenses.

Department of Consumer Affairs
(916) 445-1254
(800) 952-5210

State Taxes – Withholding

If you have employees, you must register with the state Employment Development Department (EDD).

Employment Development Department
(805) 549-3512

Vehicle Registration

Commercial vehicles for a business must be registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).


(805) 543-0590;
(800) 777-0133

or for occupational licensing

(805) 543-4492

Wages, Hours, and Child Labor

If you have employees, you should contact the Department of Industrial Relations with regard to minimum wages, overtime pay, employee dismissal requirements, hiring of minors, and fair employment practices.

State Labor Commissioner
(415) 557-7878

Federal Requirements

Employee I.D. Number/Taxes

Small businesses usually do not require any type of federal permit to operate, unless they are engaged in rendering investment advice, making alcohol or tobacco products, preparing meat products or making or dealing in firearms.  However, if you have formed a corporation or a partnership, you should apply for a federal employer identification number (Form SS-4) even if the business has no employees.  You can request from the IRS the Employers Tax Guide, a publication that explains federal income tax, unemployment tax, and social security tax withholding requirements for employers.


US Internal Revenue Service
(310) 514-6001