City of San Jose Business License aka Business Tax

Business licenses or a Business Tax are required for any type of business in San Jose and any other city (unless officially noted otherwise).

You will obtain this license from the City that your business resides.  The Business License must be displayed in a conspicuous location (it must be in an obvious location). Keep in mind that having a business license from one city does not authorize you to do business in another city, even if it’s a neighboring city.  This certificate does not give you clearance from fire codes, occupancy, zoning, etc.  You must obtain the necessary permits to conduct your particular business.

If you have already started your business before you have obtained a business license, you are given a 45 day window to obtain a business license or you will be penalized.  (This depends on the City.  San Jose has a 45 day window.)

Where do I go to get my Business License for the City of San Jose?

In order to get your license from the City of San Jose, you must go to 200 East Santa Clara Street, San Jose, CA 95112.  You must enter in the Tower, the tallest building.  On the first floor you will see a Business License Section.

What does the City of San Jose Business License Application look like?

You can find the City of San Jose Business License Application here.

How much does a City of San Jose Business License cost?

A City of San Jose Business License costs $150.  You will need to supply you DBA, business type, type of business you are in, etc and answer questions that may indicate the need for a permit.

*Keep in mind, if you are a involved with a business that requires extra permits, the people there will be able to help you if you ask them.  Usually they will tell you to go to the round table next to the Business License Section where you will get a ticket to speak to a city planner.

The city planner will be able to help you out with the permits and any other regulations that your business may be affected by.

City of San Jose Business License Tax Hardship Program

San Jose also has a program that will lower your business license tax to $35 (processing fee) as long as you meet their requirements.


1. Sole Proprietorship
(Sole Proprietor: 1) Owned by one person, husband & wife 2) Corporation owned by one person, husband & wife, domestic partnership 3) Domestic Partnership)
2. No employees
3. Gross receipts will be at or below the poverty level for the income tax reporting year for which the business tax is due.
The poverty level for 2012 is $22,340.

Essentially, you will need to own a business by yourself or with your wife, have no employees and make less than $22,340.  If you make over the stated amount or violate the requirements in any way, you will owe the full business license tax of $150 as well as penalties and interest associated with the violation.

You can find the Business License Hardship form for San Jose. You may need to update your PDF reader in order to view the file. You can also, left click the link and download the link so that your computer activates your local PDF reader instead of your browser’s reader when opening the San Jose Business License Hardship form.

This is only the beginning

You will need to go to the County of Santa Clara to get your Fictitious Business Name Statement if you want to open up a Business Bank Account as many banks will require this as well as the Business License in order to open an account.

Please visit the Fictitious Business Name or DBA (Doing Business As) page.