Licenses and Permits
It can be daunting just to think about all of the permits and licenses needed to start a small business. But once you become aware of what is needed and which agencies must be dealt with, the process becomes much more manageable.
Below are the licenses and permits you need on the State and Local levels to start your business:
*Note: you only need a Cottage Food License if you are planning on making a food product from your home
All businesses are required to get a business license, regardless of size or industry.
Purpose: So the City can have record of the existence of your business and to allow you to pay business taxes to the City.
If you will be running your business from home, the entity from whom you will obtain your business license depends on the city, town, or jurisdiction in which you reside. Access the links below to be directed to your business licensing department depending on where you live.
Stanislaus County (unincorporated)
Note: When applying for a business license with your local jurisdiction, they will also require you to fill out a Stormwater Discharge Compliance Form.
All businesses must fill out the form regardless of size. If you are a small, home-based artisan business, you will most likely NOT have to get the actual permit, however you still must fill out the form as a formality.
Registered participants in the Recipes for Success Makers Program who reside in Modesto are eligible for a one-time reimbursement of their business license fee once approved by the City of Modesto if done before June 30, 2021. (Proof of payment and approval needed)
Home Business Agreement
Purpose: To allow you to conduct your business in a residential area while ensuring you do not compromise the residential character of the neighborhood.
Generally speaking, most businesses are not permitted in areas that are only zoned for residential use. However, certain types of businesses are allowed in residential areas if they do not threaten the residential nature of a given neighborhood. Businesses that generate noise, traffic, and regular visitors are generally not allowed.
Contact your local Planning Department to see if your business would be allowed to operate from your home. As with the business license, the government entity that would make this determination depends on the area in which you live.
Stanislaus County (unincorporated)
A seller's permit is required in order to sell tangible goods in California.
Purpose: To be able to charge and pay California sales tax on your product. Allows you to avoid paying California sales taxes on your business' wholesale purchases.
Fictitious Business Name
If the name of your business does not include your last name, you must file for a Fictitious Business Name
Purpose: To officially secure your business name as your own.
John Smith's Dazzling Jewelry -------> Does NOT require a Fictitious Business Name
Dazzling Jewelry -----------> DOES require a Fictitious Business Name
1.) Go to the Stanislaus County Clerk's Office , fill out the form, and pay the $34 fee.
2.) Within 30 days of paying this fee and filing the statement with the County Clerk, you must publish a copy of that statement in ONE local newspaper (ie the Modesto Bee, Ceres Courier, or Turlock Journal, etc.). Click the button below to see what rates are charged by the different publications.
The notice in the local paper must appear once per week for four consecutive weeks
3.) Within 30 days of the last publication, you must return to the County Clerk's Office and file an “affidavit of publication”
Now the business name is officially yours!!!