Left Column Header

Business License Discovery Program

Click here for a calendar of our office hours

The City of Santa Monica requires all businesses operating within the City limits, including property owners and independent contractors, to obtain a business license and to pay business license tax. This requirement benefits the well-being of the overall community by funding essential services, such as:  

Sidewalks ◊ Streets ◊ Parks ◊ Beach Maintenance◊ Economic Development ◊ Police ◊ Fire

The business license process also ensures that businesses operating in the City of Santa Monica comply with local, state and federal regulations.  These are all factors that help to create a more vibrant and viable business community.

The Finance Department offered a temporary Business License Tax Compliance Assistant Program which ran from April 8th through May 24th of 2013.The program authorized a 90% reduction in penalties for businesses that had never applied for a business license. This program was part of a two-phased approach to identify unlicensed businesses and increase compliance. The following information item regarding the program was provided to City Council on March 19, 2013:   

                   Business License Discovery and Penalty Waiver Program.pdf

The Finance Department has now initiated the second phase to identify unregistered businesses and assist them in obtaining the required permits and licenses to operate in the City. This phase includes information sharing programs with the California State Franchise Tax Board which was reauthorized by Senate Bill 211. Through the sharing of data, predominately the Franchise Tax Board (other sources include, but are not limited to, sales tax records, business publications and commercial property owners) the City has identified business entities and sole proprietors operating without a business license.

Goals of the Program 

  • Educate local businesses and self-employed persons about the City of Santa Monica business license requirements. 
  • Bring businesses into compliance with the Santa Monica Municipal Code
  • Ensure the City is applying local law equitably and accurately for all individuals and entities conducting business in the City of Santa Monica.


Please select the program application packet that is applicable to your business:

  • If you believe that you have received the Notice to Comply in error, please complete the Request for Business License Tax Review below and return it to the Business License Office.

     Important Information 

    Business License Certificate Steps

    In order to obtain a business license certificate, the following steps must be completed:

    Step 1 Complete the applicable Business License Tax Application above and include the Notice Number printed on your Notice to Comply Letter on the application.

    Step 2 Complete the Zoning Review Form - Commercial or the Zoning Review Form - Residential.

    Step 3 Complete the Statement of Gross Receipts Form.

    Step 4 Complete the Waste Water Permit form.

    Step 5 Submit the completed documents listed above and send the appropriate payment amount to the Business License Office.

    Step 6 Submit payment in the amount listed on your invoice.  Note: You will receive an invoice with the amount owed for all prior year taxes, assessments, penalties and fees due within approximately 30 days.

    The Business License Office will route the application to the appropriate City Departments for review (e.g. Zoning, Police, Public Works). Once the appropriate approvals are received, a business license certificate will be issued.


    Contact Information:

    City of Santa Monica

    Business License Office

    1717 4th Street, Suite 150

    Santa Monica, CA 90401


    PH: (310) 458-8745

    FAX: (310) 451-3283

    Email: business.license@smgov.net

    Body Bottom Graphic
    City of Santa Monica © 2015

    City of Santa Monica Finance Department · 1717 4th St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-8281