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Business Licenses FAQ

What is a business license?

A business license is taxation for the privilege of doing business in the city. Every company or person doing business or based in the City of Carlsbad is required to have a business license.

How much does a business license cost?

Licenses are divided into two main categories:

  • Flat fee license
    Generally a business dealing in a service falls into the flat fee category
  • Gross receipts license
    Generally, a business involving a product falls into the gross receipts category. The rate at which a business pays depends on the type of business that they engage in. Gross receipts licenses are paid per each $1,000 of gross sales per year plus a $25 base fee. The minimum business license fee of $31 is required for each license.

Note: Some business activities have special rules. Contact business licenses for fees and procedures if the business is: auctioneer, auction market, auto wrecking yard, billiards/card room, bingo, cabaret/dance, commercial motion pictures, junk yard dealer, limousine service, massage parlor, massage technician, pawnbroker, private security service, public utility, special events or taxi service.

What is the payment schedule?

Fees must be paid in advance. Penalties may be incurred from late payments.

How long does it take to process a business license?

Three departments review each business license: Building, Planning and Fire departments. The normal length of time for processing a license is approximately two-three weeks.

How is the "start of business" date determined?

The "date business opened" is the actual date expected to start doing business within the City of Carlsbad limits.

Can a business license be transferred to a new owner?

Licenses are not transferable. If the business is sold, it is the responsibility of the seller to notify the office so the license may be closed. The new owner must apply for a new license in his/her name.

How can the address of a business be changed on the license?

Licenses are approved for a specific location. If the business moves, notify the city office in writing and remit $1 for a new license. The license must be re-approved for the new location.

Don't make these mistakes!

Before you sign a lease, or even before you apply for a business license, make sure your type of business is allowed at the location and that you know what permits and fees might be required. The City of Carlsbad's development services manager is here to help by researching the allowed uses for different parts of town and any special permits, fees and requirements - all important information to know BEFORE committing to a space. This service is free and fast - just give us a call at 760-602-2721, or email

Contact Information

Business Licenses

1635 Faraday Ave.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

General Information

Business hours
Monday - Thursday
7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
8 a.m. - 5 p.m