Business License & Tax

Are you planning to open or expand a business in Petaluma? We have tools to help!


Check out our Business Toolkit for general business tips as well as an overview of license and permit requirements. Then go to our Online Permit Tool – Open Counter – to scope your project and estimate costs.

Note: Petaluma has a local minimum wage that is higher than the State minimum wage. You must pay the Petaluma wage to employees for hours worked within the Petaluma City limits. Learn more here.

The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) administers California’s sales and use, fuel, tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis taxes, as well as a variety of other taxes and fees that fund specific state programs. Here is a link to the CDTFA website for specific information about the programs they administer, how to register for permits and licenses, and how to file and report correctly.


The CalGold website is a comprehensive website that assists business owners in finding the appropriate permit information for their business. It also provides contact information for the various agencies that administer and issue permits, including those for cities, counties, and various other departments. Here is a link to the CalGold website.


The City of Petaluma requires that any business that is either, located in, or doing business in Petaluma file a written application prior to commencing business and pay the minimum tax applicable to the business classification. A business license will be issued as evidence of payment of the business tax.

If you are located in Sonoma County and generating receipts (doing business) within the City of Petaluma, you are required to get a Business License and pay the Business Tax in Petaluma.



Getting a Business License is a 3-step process because the City has to check to see that your business location is suitable and that your business meets basic safety thresholds before registering your business in our system and collecting the required tax.


Before applying for the Business License, contact the Planning Department to confirm that City rules allow your business type in your planned location:

  • Phone - 707-778-4301
  • Email - [email protected]
  • In person - Planning Counter, 11 English Street.

If you apply for a Business License without checking, you could pay a nonrefundable application fee unnecessarily if your business location does not comply with the zoning rules.


To be sure that your business is safe, a City Building inspector and/or the Fire Marshal may need to visit your business before a business license is issued. City inspectors will look for minimum requirements that protect you and your employees and allow easy access to your business for emergency responders. For a complete list of the safety requirements, please review the Business License Inspection Check List.


Renewals can be completed online here. The renewal is due by March 31st of each year.


If you would like to work from home, and you live within the city limits of Petaluma, you will also need a Home Occupation Permit, which requires an extra fee and involves additional review to be sure your business is appropriate for a residential area. Questions about the Home Occupation permit? Contact Planning by phone (707-778-4301); email ([email protected]); or in person at the Planning Counter, 11 English Street.


If you are renting all or a portion of your dwelling unit for stays less than 30 days you will need a Short Term Vacation Rental Permit (which is renewed annually) from the Planning Division before your Business License can be issued. Download the Short Term Vacation Rental Permit checklist and application form. Short Term Vacation Rentals as well as other lodging facilities must collect and remit Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT).

Lodging facilities that receive gross rent revenues of $350,000 or more in a fiscal year are also responsible for collecting Sonoma County Tourism Business Improvement Area (BIA). TBIA Form. For more information about TBIA, visit the Sonoma County website at


If you plan to open or continue a Massage Business, you need to register and provide evidence that you have met the City’s Massage Ordinance requirements. This involves submitting a form to the Police Department, paying a fee, and, in some cases, undergoing a background check. View the Massage Requirements here.


If you are moving your business location, the Planning Department will have to check your new business location to be sure it is suitable for your business before the City will renew your Business Certificate. Contact Planning.


While you have a Petaluma address, your business property may be located in Sonoma County. If it is in the County of Sonoma, and it does not generate gross receipts within the city limits of Petaluma, it does not require a Business License or a Business Tax payment. However, you may need a zoning / location clearance from the County. To find out more, contact the County of Sonoma Planning Department at 707-565-1900. If you are not sure, call or email the Petaluma Planning Department at 707-778-4301 or [email protected] to find out.

If you need a current copy of your business license, please email your request to: [email protected] and kindly include the name of the business, business address and license or customer number.

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