Starting A Business

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1. Obtain Local License

The City of Downey is known for an environment that makes living, working, and doing business here a pleasure. This positive image is the result of high development standards, and commitment to create a pleasant, safe, and attractive surrounding for all residents, businesses, and property owners. The City's regulations and reviews ensure that those standards are applied to everyone equally in an effort to promote community harmony, health, and safety, while at the same time recognizing those qualities that make each business unique. We have provided a checklist of items that are needed to complete your business application below.

City of Downey – Business License


  1. Obtain a Business Registration Application
  2. Pay the $34.00 non-refundable application deposit at Cashier window on 1st floor of City Hall
    • Additional fees may be required upon completion of Inspection Card. Business License fees vary according to the type of business.
  3. City Review Period
    • Once application is turned in, the approval process begins and the City Departments (i.e. Building, Fire, Police) will review application and location.
  4. Completed Inspection Card
    • Turn in completed Inspection Card to the Cashier window and pay additional fees if required.
    • A Business License certificate will be issued in two weeks.

Out of town vendors, service providers, contractors or subcontractors:

  1. Obtain a Business Registration Application
  2. Complete the application and turn in to the Cashier window and pay fees due as listed below.
  3. The application can be mailed in with a check or money order payable to: City of Downey
    Mailing address (for out of town vendors or contractors only):
    City of Downey
    Attn: Business License Registration
    P.O. Box 7016
    Downey, CA 90241-7016

Contractors/Sub-Contractors conducting business in the City of Downey:

  • Please visit the Cashier for application
  • A and B Licensed Contractors must pay $44.83 per quarter; and,
  • C Licensed Contractors must pay $35.91 per quarter.

Please note that Local Contractors must pay for the full year:

  • A or B Class: $146.32
  • C Class: $117.98

Research the Basics

There are certain risks associated with starting a new business and the City of Downey is focused on making the process easier for you with a few key steps. If you are looking for personal assistance with the process or have questions you want answered, the Planning Department is willing and able to help with the process.

Downey Planning Department
Downey City Hall
1st Floor - Planning Division
11111 Brookshire Avenue
Downey, CA 90241
Hours: M-F 7:30am-5:30pm

Other Resources

2. Create a Business Plan

If you are starting a business and seeking advice about the direction you should take, The Small Business Development Center at Long Beach City College offers no cost one-on-one counseling with experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. You may visit the website below for more information or call the number provided to schedule an appointment.

Business Development Center hosted by Long Beach City College
4900 E. Conant Street
Bldg. O2, Suite 108
Long Beach, CA 90808
TEL | 562.938.5100 • FAX 562.938.5030

One of the most important parts to starting your own business is a business plan. A business plan outlines where your business is going and what it takes to get there. One critical reason for a business plan is that a bank will require one in order to secure a loan.

3. Determine Business Name and Register

If you are choosing a business name that does not include your legal last name and a one-word description, you will need to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement with a name not already in use.

4. Determine Legal Structure of Business

Your choice of legal structure will determine different levels of income taxes, number of tax returns to file, earnings distribution, and personal liability. The most common and least complicated for businesses are Sole Proprietorship or a General Partnership. Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships, Corporations, and Limited Liability Companies must be registered with the Secretary of State.

5. Determine Location of Business

The location of where you can operate your business is determined by the type of business you are looking to start.

6. Obtain State License

The CalGOLD Business Permit System assists you in finding the correct permit information for the business you wish to open. CalGOLD does not issue permits, it only provides information on which permit your business needs.

7. Get Tax Information

Income tax, unsecured personal property tax, and employment taxes are some of the State and Federal taxes that may affect your business.

The California Tax Information Center can assist with questions you may have regarding State tax.

For Federal tax information, the Internal Revenue Service website will provide what you need.

8. Learn About Employer Responsibilities

If your business requires you to hire employees, you should know the employer responsibilities at the City, State, and Federal levels.

The Los Angeles County employer information can be found at:

The State employer requirements can be found at:

For the Federal requirements, employers must register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN). For all tax information and employer requirements, visit the following:

9. Apply for Business Tax Certificate (Business License)

If you are looking to operate a business for more than six days in one calendar year you must apply for a Business Tax Certificate. Home Occupation businesses, self-employed persons and independent contractors are all required to have a Business Tax Certificate. You can apply online or in person. The online information is the following:

The guide provides general information from choosing a name to more specific required permits and licenses as you are guided step-by-step while you open your business.

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