1. Required Information
2. The Registration Process
3. Tax Registration
4. Types of Business Permits
5. Resources
6. Exempt Businesses
7. Federal and State Tax Registration
8. Additional Steps

Los Angeles business registration is the process of setting up a legal business entity in the city. Before taking this step, you must register your business with the California Secretary of State and with the IRS.

Required Information

You'll need to submit the following information to register for your Los Angeles business license:

  • Social Security number for sole proprietors or federal employer ID number for corporations, partnerships, trusts, and limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • Legal name of your business and doing business as (DBA), if applicable
  • Description of your business purposes and activities
  • Business start date
  • Gross receipts for each year in business if you were in operation before the current calendar year
  • Contact information for a responsible person within your business, such as your comptroller, attorney, or certified public accountant (CPA)
  • Type of business entity, such as sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation
  • Primary business address and mailing address
  • Sales tax number
  • Professional or business activity code

The Registration Process

You can register your Los Angeles business online if you fulfill these qualifications:

  • You have never registered this business in the city before.
  • Your business has a physical location within or conducts business in the city.
  • You are currently only registering a single business.

You may also be required to pay fees, which can be done online with a credit card. You will have to answer an eligibility questionnaire. If you fulfill the requirements, you'll receive a confirmation email that will outline any additional steps you must complete to register.

Tax Registration

You will need a tax registration certificate if you collect and remit sales tax or if you conduct any business activities in the city. This certificate is available through the Office of Finance. You can complete this application online and will receive a temporary certificate that you can print and display at your location. You can also apply in person at one of the office's service locations. You'll receive the permanent certificate in the mail within four weeks. Once it arrives, put it up in place of the temporary certificate.

Types of Business Permits

Los Angeles requires the following specific types of business permits:

  • Tobacco Retailers Permit if you sell tobacco and/or related products or paraphernalia
  • Police Alarm Permit if your business location has an alarm system.
  • Police Non Alarm and Fire Permits for those engaged in certain business activities

Resources

Consult these helpful resources when registering your Los Angeles small business:

  • The LA Business portal gives information about federal, state, county, and city business requirements.
  • The website also provides an overview of requirements for business registration with various government agencies.
  • For business tax and exemptions information in English, Chinese, Spanish, and Korean, consult the New Business Tax Reforms Summary.

Exempt Businesses

Some businesses do not need to register with the city of Los Angeles. These include:

  • State universities and colleges
  • Non-profit businesses with federal and state tax exemption status
  • Businesses that engage in air freight
  • Charter party limos
  • State government institutions
  • Trucking and hauling companies
  • Financial institutions and credit unions
  • Insurance agencies
  • Businesses that operate in the city fewer than six calendar days each year
  • Public notaries
  • Landlords who rent fewer than three units
  • Real estate agents
  • Residential elder care facilities with fewer than six residents
  • Religious leaders
  • Licensed bail bond companies
  • Home-based day care centers that serve fewer than eight children

Federal and State Tax Registration

Your business must also register with the IRS to obtain a federal EIN (employer identification number). This is a required step if you will hire employees, but it also has benefits for businesses without employees such as the ability to open a bank account. You can apply online for this number, and no fee is required.

Businesses that have employees must also apply online with the state of California to receive a payroll tax account number. You can also apply in person and learn more about the reporting and tax requirements for your business.

Additional Steps

If you're starting a new California business, you should create a business plan to outline your goals. Before choosing a business location, make sure you understand the zoning laws in Los Angeles.

If you need help with Los Angeles business registration, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.