Mural on Walker Street

Getting a Business License in Watsonville

An important first step in starting your business is to get a business license.  The following step-by-step instructions and additional information should help you through the process.  If you have any problems or need help getting a business license, please call our Economic Development Team at (831) 768-3087.  We are happy that you are growing your business here and we want to help!

The City of Watsonville’s Municipal code requires all business to have an active business license (section 3-4.05) and pay the required tax (section 3-4.04). This webpage was developed to provide you with the information you’ll need to easily complete this process.Depending on the location of your business (in town or out of town), you’ll follow either of two paths.

Local businesses located within the City limits

To better serve your needs, we have streamlined our business license process to reduce license issuance waiting period. After your location has been selected, you will need to visit the City of Watsonville’s Community Development Department. You will be asked to complete a zoning clearance application on-site and will be provided the business license application. Your zoning clearance application and location will in most cases be reviewed on the spot. After the location and use are confirmed to be compatible with zoning requirements, your may submit your business license application (review a sample application for the information required).

After the business license application has been processed, you will receive an invoice for the amount of the business license tax and other fees as applicable. Upon payment, your business license will be mailed to you within 5-10 business days.If you have any questions about the zoning process, you may contact the Community Development Department at 831-768-3050.

Out of Town businesses performing interim work within the City

You may download the Out of Town Business License Application and complete and return it to:

City of Watsonville
Finance Department
P.O. Box 50000
Watsonville, CA 95077-5000

After receipt, you application will be processed and the fee will be calculated and you will receive an invoice for the amount due for your business license. Upon payment, your business license will be mailed to you within 5-10 business days.If you have any business license questions, we encourage you to contact us at 831-768-3450 or 831-768-3455.

Helpful hints about completing your Business License Application

Section I. Select the appropriate “Business Type” for your company (only select one) and enter Business name, address and contact information.

Section II. Enter the owner information for 2 owners or Officers. The Social Security number is for internal purposes only and will be KEPT CONFIDENTIAL. A Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) will be accepted in place of the Social Security number.

Section III. Provide information about the major activities of your business and/or services that will be provided. Other general information required is the business start date (estimate if not started yet), whether the business is in a commercial or residential area and the number of owners, full-time employees & part-time employees working within the City of Watsonville.ID Numbers: Enter all the ID #’s that apply to your business (Federal Identification Number, California EDD, Health Permit and/or Resale number). See below for an explanation about these fields.Alarms & items on-site: Checkmark each appropriate box for the alarms on your business site and/or any type of items on-site that emergency crews might need to know (guard dogs, hazardous materials, etc.).

Important information required for your business

Alcohol sales: Any business that will sell alcohol will need a City “Use Permit” from the Community Development Department and a State License from California’s Alcohol Beverage Control department (

Businesses with Employees: You must obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance, a FEIN (see below) and obtain a California tax ID number from the Employment Development Department (1-800-300-5616).

Federal Employer/Taxpayer Identification Number (FEIN): Every business with employees and all partnerships, corporations, non-profits/associations must apply for and obtain a free FEIN. Go to ( and search for “apply for EIN” for more information or use IRS FORM SS-4 or call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933.

Fictitious Business Name: Required if a business name does NOT include the surname (last name) of the individual owner or partners OR a business name that implies the existence of additional owners (this may not apply to corporations). For more information, go to: [] or call 831-454-2470.

Health Permit: Any business that involves food may require a Health Permit issued by the County of Santa Cruz “Environmental Health Services” department. For more information call 831-454-2022 or go to their website:

Sellers Permit: Any business that intends to sell goods (wholesale or retail) must obtain from the State a “Sellers Permit”. More information can be found online at: or by calling 831-443-3003.

Solicitors Permit: If you plan to conduct “door to door” sales, you must obtain from the City’s Police Department a solicitors permit. Call 768-3300 for more information. “Starting your Business”. For more information and valuable tips about starting your business in California, go to the California Business Portal( web page.*Phone numbers and web links were current at the time this page was created and are provided as a courtesy.