Starting a Business

Starting a Business

Starting a business can be exciting and challenging. The City of Elk Grove is here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have to help ensure your new venture is successful.

There are many things you should consider when starting a business. This section is here to help you with the process. If at any time you need further assistance please feel free to call a business license representative to help you.

Business License Application

Business License Contact Information

Business License office hours are:
8:00am to 5:00pm
Monday through Friday, except holidays

City Hall
8401 Laguna Palms Way
Elk Grove, CA 95758
Phone (916) 478-2211

What is required to have a Business License for a commercial location?

Licenses are issued to businesses with a physical location within the City limits . The fee for a General Business License is $12 for a two year license. The license is non-transferable. Any change in the information provided may invalidate the business license and requires a new application. Business licenses issued by the City of Elk Grove are for tracking and publication purposes only. Applicants are responsible for complying with all applicable laws and regulations in conducting business in the City of Elk Grove.

While a number of businesses only require a General License, others may be required to have a Special License as well. View a list of types of businesses that are required to have a special business license.


OpenCounter Zoning Check

The first step is to make sure you meet zoning requirements and restrictions to insure your business meets Zoning Code requirements. Certain areas of the City are zoned for Commercial and Industrial Uses. Additional requirements for the operations of businesses are also included in the Zoning Code. You will need to verify that the zoning classification of your proposed location allows the kind of business you plan to operate. Planning can be reached at (916) 478-2265.

Use Permit

Some commercial businesses must also obtain a Use Permit to operate in the City. This is done to review and control the operations of businesses which might have a detrimental impact on other nearby businesses or residents.

Before signing any leases or moving in, check with the City's Planning Department to verify correct Zoning and if a Use Permit is needed.

Sign Permits

All new signs require a Sign Permit. For additional information on signage requirements contact the Planning staff at (916) 478-2265.

New Construction or Change in Occupancy

Construction of a new building or alterations to an existing building will require approval by the Building and Safety staff. Once your project has been approved, you need to contact the Building and Safety division to make sure your proposed project meets current building code and fire safety requirements and may require review by the Fire Chief before you can occupy your new or improved space and open for business. For additional information contact Building and Safety staff at (916) 478-2235.

Exempt Businesses

A business license shall be issued to the following enterprises at no charge and marked as “exempt” upon the completion of an application. This information is important to the Economic Development statistical information.

  • Any non-profit organization with proof of 501(c)3 (must attach a copy of your 501(c)3 with your application).
  • Any apartment or rooming house.
  • Any agricultural activities such as growing of crops or raising of livestock. No exemption for wholesaling, processing or storage of products of multiple farms or cooperative marketing arrangement.
  • Any sale of produce raised on the same parcel of land from a roadside stand served by no public utility services on a seasonable basis.
  • Any enterprise that solely manufactures, sells, purchases, possesses or transports alcoholic beverages.
  • Any enterprise operating as a bank or financial corporation subject to the in lieu taxes.
  • Any enterprise operating solely as an intercity transportation business for household goods or other property for hire that is under the jurisdiction of PUC.
  • Any commercial traveler whose business is limited to goods, wares, and merchandise sold or dealt in at wholesale.;
  • Any enterprise operating solely as a real estate auctioneer whose principle place of business is located outside the City.
  • Any café musician who plays a musical instrument at any retail establishment where food or alcoholic beverages are sold.
  • Any enterprise operating solely for the solicitation of donations for the support of veterans by federally chartered veterans’ organizations.
  • Any person honorably discharged or honorably relieved veteran who is unable to earn a livelihood from manual labor. (Mail in copy of DD214)
  • Any blind person operating a vending facility.
  • Any residential care facility or residential day care home of six or less people or a small family day care of eight children or less.
  • Any professional services business, not based at a location within the City, whose work in the corporate limits.
  • Any Adult-oriented Business (You need to apply for a Special License).

Mail completed application to:

Elk Grove City Hall
8401 Laguna Palms Way
Elk Grove, CA 95758

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for a business license?

All general business license applications must be submitted online or at one of our Business License kiosks at City Hall. We will no longer accept applications by mail or applications filled out by hand. No payment is required with the submission of the application. Payment will be collected prior to issuance of the license.

Applications for Special business licenses must be submitted in person at City Hall. Special business licenses are approved by the police department and fingerprinting is required.

How do I know if I need a special license?

There are certain types of enterprises that require special investigation, review and regulation in order to ensure that the public health, safety and welfare are adequately protected. Below is a list of the businesses that are required to get a Special License.

  • Antique Dealers-in firearms, jewelry, art objects, furniture or other valuables
  • Automobile Dismantlers-and marketers of used parts for automobiles
  • Mobile Automobile Repairs
  • Circuses and Carnivals
  • Sales of Concealable Firearms including gunpowder
  • Home Repair Services without a State of California License
  • Purchase or Sale of Metals including precious and scrap metals
  • Auto Towing
  • Repossession or Storage of Automobiles or any other thing of value
  • The Operator of Each Booth-flea market, farmer's market or auction
  • Private Security Companies
  • Tree Trimmers
  • Motorcycle Sales-including new and used parts
  • Wrecking Yards-including automobile dismantling
  • Dating and Introduction Services
  • Swimming Pool Cleaning Services
  • Janitorial, Maid or Carpet Cleaning Services
  • Pool Halls-one table or more is a pool hall
  • Itinerant Food Vendors-mobile food vendors
  • Movie and Television Productions-Film Permit
  • Dance Clubs, Halls and Public Dances
  • Taxicabs
  • Medical Cannabis
  • Cardrooms, Bingo Games, Bingo Parlors, Bingo Suppliers
  • Pawnbrokers, Secondhand Dealers and Junk Dealers
  • Junk Tire Storage
  • Tobacco Retailers
  • Adult Related Establishments-Bathhouse, Massage, Escort Services
Where do I go for fingerprinting?

You will come to the cashier's office at City Hall to pay the $44 fee for the livescan (fingerprinting) first. The cashiers will provide the necessary forms and send you across the street to the Police Department for processing. 4:00 p.m. cut-off time.

I have already been fingerprinted for another approval process. Do I have to be fingerprinted again?

The background check is completely confidential and the Department of Justice does not release information from prior background checks. You will need to be fingerprinted again for the business license process.

I'm not sure if my business is considered a home-based business. I sometimes work at home.

Are you using your home address as your business address and do you conduct your business from home? Examples would be: a landscaping business; a consulting business; a sales job where you travel to your customers' locations; a mobile notary. Although the physical work is being done at other locations, your home is used for paperwork, scheduling, etc. That would be considered a home-based business. If you have a work location outside of your home but you occasionally work at home, you would not have a home-based business.

Can I submit my application through the mail or apply in person at City Hall?

Effective October 1, 2010, applications filled out by hand or submitted through the mail are no longer accepted. We have provided kiosks at City Hall that you may use to electronically submit your application for a general business license, or you may access the application online.

I have difficulty using a computer. How can I submit my application?

We have kiosks at City Hall that can be used to submit your application. Assistance with the process will be provided.

I am having problems submitting the application from home. What do I do?

You may call our Business License department at 916-478-2211 if you have questions. However, it may be impossible to troubleshoot your specific problem since it may be unique to your computer. If the problem cannot be easily resolved, you may come to City Hall and use one of our Business License kiosks to submit your application.

My business category is not listed on the NAICS lists.

The categories are generic. Choose the description that most closely describes your business.

Why did you change the process?

Processing the applications electronically eliminates time spent processing mail and retyping the application. This expedites the process and allows our departments to access them and approve them in a more timely manner.

What is the cost of a business license?

The General business license is $12 for a 2-year license. The Special license is $125 for a 1-year license plus $44 for the fingerprinting and background check. The $44.00 is a one-time charge as long as you do not let your license expire. If your special license expires, you will have to reapply for a new license, including another background check. $4.00 State Imposed Fee.

How and when do I pay for the license?

You will pay for your General license when you apply online. You will then be able to print your temporary license from your computer. Your official business license will be mailed to you in approximately two weeks. If you require a special business license, you will pay your licensing fees when you apply at City Hall.

What happens after I submit the application?

You can immediately print your General business temporary license.

How long does the process take?

General business licenses can be filled out online and take about 15 minutes. Special business licenses require a review process and can take differing amounts of time depending on the application.

How do I renew my license? Has that process also changed?

You will receive a renewal notice 60 days prior to the expiration date of your license. There are instructions on the renewal on how to update your information and pay for your renewal.