Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Wish To Operate A Commercially-Based Business Located In The City Of Santa Ana?
A : If you operate a business from a commercial premise within the City of Santa Ana you are required to secure a business license. Every business, including temporary or itinerant businesses, operating from commercial premises within the City is required to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for their commercial location and comply with any and all applicable provisions of the City of Santa Ana Municipal Code relating to Zoning and Building & Fire Safety. Businesses may apply and pay for their Certificate of Occupancy Inspections at the Planning Counter. For information on Certificate of Occupancy requirements please contact the Planning Agency at (714) 647-5804. A separate business license is required for each separate type of business conducted at the same location, and for each separate branch or business property location. A separate Certificate of Occupancy is required for each separate branch location.
Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Wish To Operate A Home-Based Business Located In The City Of Santa Ana?
A : If you operate a business from a residential premise within the City of Santa Ana you are required to secure a business license. Prior to the issuance of a business license, businesses operating from residential premises within the City, are required to obtain a Home Occupation Permit and comply with any and all applicable provisions of the City of Santa Ana Municipal Code relating to home-based businesses. Home businesses must receive an approved Home Occupation Permit before they apply and pay for their Business License. The Planning Agency approves these permits. For information on obtaining a Home Occupation Permit please contact the Planning Agency at (714) 647-5804. A separate business license is required for each separate type of business operating at the same residential location.
Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Become A Landlord Receiving Rents From The Rental, Leasing, Subleasing Or Subletting Of Commercial Or Residential Property Located In The City Of Santa Ana?
A : If you become a landlord and rent, lease, sublease or sublet commercial or residential property within the City, you are required to secure a separate business license for each individual rental property.
Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Rent A Single Family Residence Or Other Undivided Single Residential Premise(s) To One Or More Family Members?
A : No business license or other administrative fee is required for the rental of a single-family residence or other undivided single residential rental premises as between an owner (or leaseholder) and any immediate relative related by blood, adoption or marriage where the rents received do not exceed the cost of maintaining legal ownership of the premises. However, you must apply for a "Fee-Exempt" family member rental license.
"Any immediate relative" is limited to mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, brothers and sisters, and husbands and wives.
"The cost of maintaining legal ownership of the premises" includes: mortgage costs, title and homeowner property insurance premiums, property taxes, homeowner or condominium association costs; other costs or expenses arising from contractual obligations relating to maintaining ownership or leasehold interest in the premises; and the cost of utilities, maintenance or other related services for which the owner (or leaseholder) is legally responsible.
Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Operate A Commercial Or Home-Based Nonprofit Business, Organization, Or Institution?
A : If you operate a commercial or home-based nonprofit business, organization, or institution, you are required to secure a "Non-Profit" business license. Information supporting qualification of your business as a "non-profit" must be furnished. No business license fee (other than an administrative application processing charge) shall be applied with respect to any bona fide nonprofit business.
Q : Do I Need A Business License If I Operate A Commercial Or Home-Based Business Specifically Exempted By State Or Federal Law?
A : No business license or other administrative fee is required for the operation of a commercial or home-based business specifically exempted by State or Federal Law. Supporting qualifying information of your business as specifically exempted must be furnished. A "Fee-Exempt" business license shall be issued to qualifying exempted businesses.
Q : May I Register To Do Business From A Post Office Box Or Private Postal Mailbox (PBM) Located Within The City Of Santa Ana?
A : A post office box or private postal mailbox (PMB) address may be used as the mailing address of record for receiving information regarding a Santa Ana business license; however, a post office box or PMB address does not constitute a business location for business licensing purposes.
A post office box or PMB address cannot be substituted as the business location address for any business, whether physically located within the City of Santa Ana or physically located outside of the City of Santa Ana.
BUSINESSES & INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q : Am I doing “business”? What does Santa Ana consider a "business" and why may the City think I am operating one?
A : Santa Ana Municipal Code Section 21-3 defines business as including “all activities engaged in or caused to be engaged in within the city, including any commercial or industrial enterprise, trade, profession, occupation, vocation, calling, or livelihood, including rental of residential or commercial real estate, and every other kind of activity whether or not carried on for gain or profit, and whether or not engaged in as a principal or as an independent contractor, but shall not include the services rendered by an employee to his employer.”
State law (Business & Professions Code Section 16300) requires cities to use the way a taxpayer reported income to the IRS and FTB to determine whether the taxpayer performed services as an employee or as a separate business entity.
Q : I received a 1099 Form instead of a W-2 from my work. Am I required to have a business license?
A: Yes, individuals that work as an independent contractor and are reported on a 1099 Form instead of a W-2 need to have a City of Santa Ana Business License.
Q : I do part-time consulting/independent contractor work from my home. Do I have to get a business license?
A : Yes, businesses both large and small are required to obtain a Santa Ana Business License to be in compliance with the Santa Ana Municipal Code. If the consulting work or other independent contractor work is done from a location within the City limits, such as your residence, you are required to obtain a City of Santa Ana Business License. (Note: hobbyists and part-time businesses making less than $1,200 per year may apply for a reduced gratuitous license fee.)
Q : I am an independent operator performing services in association with a licensed Santa Ana business, or nonprofit organization or government agency. Do I have to get a separate business license?
A : Yes, engaging in business in association with, or performing services for, or in the name of a licensed Santa Ana business or nonprofit organization, or government agency does not relive separate business entities, independent contractors, consultants or other self-employed individuals from the requirement to obtain a City of Santa Ana Business License.
Q : I live in Santa Ana, but my business is located outside of the city limits. Do I need to get a business license?
A : As long as your business location and all business activity are conducted outside the City of Santa Ana, there is no need to obtain a City of Santa Ana Business License. However, if you are conducting business based from your residence, or your residence is your business location, you will need to obtain a City of Santa Ana Business License.
Q : My business entity (Corporation, LLC, Partnership, LP, etc.) is dormant/passive and it is just paying a minimum tax to the Secretary of State. Is it required to get a business license?
A : Yes. If your business is registered as “active” with the Secretary of State and is reporting on a business return to the FTB and IRS, it will need a business license. Maintaining a business entity within the City, whether it is transacting public business or not, is considered operating a business under the municipal code and a City of Santa Ana Business License is required.
RESIDENTIAL RENTAL PROPERTIES - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Q : What does Santa Ana consider a “residential rental business”?
A: Municipal Code Section 21-3 defines the business of rental of residential real estate as including every person who engages in the business of leasing, renting, subleasing, subletting, providing, exchanging or trading without loss of ownership or leasehold any residential property within the City for purposes of general residency.
Q : How is the residential rental business license tax assessed?
A : The business license tax for the rental of residential real estate is assessed per property, based on the ownership of the property. A separate business license is required for each separate rental property location. The business license tax assessment is made on a per unit basis and reflects the maximum number of rentable units making up the property.
Q : I am renting to family members is this still considered to be a business? Do I have to get a business license?
A : Renting to family members is considered to be a business and a license is required. If you are renting only to immediate family members and the amount you receive is not more than the “cost of said premises” you may qualify for a “fee-exempt” license. To see if you qualify, download a Family Member Rental Exemption Form.