Skip To Content

Starting a new business can be both exciting and challenging. Before you start it’s a good idea to find out what you need in the way of permits, approvals and license because they vary based on the type of business you are starting.

STEP 1 DEVELOP A BUSINESS PLAN

A business plan is the first step to starting a successful business. This plan will help you evaluate your idea, estimate costs, and determine the strengths and weaknesses of your proposal. A business plan is usually required to apply for a commercial loan and it will establish a road map for your business future.

 You can get help from Contra Costa Small Business Development Center (SBDC)U.S. Small Business Administration  (SBA) or Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).

STEP 2 DETERMINE YOUR LEGAL STRUCTURE & REGISTER THE BUSINESS

There are 3 basic options: a DBA, a Corporation or an LLC.

DBA or “Doing Business As” (also known as a “Fictitious Business Name” or FBN) is not really a separate structure, but just a different name that an individual or partners use as their business name.

An LLC or “Limited Liability Company” is a newer type of business that is both a separate entity but provides very easy management (doesn’t require directors or officers) and taxation. LLC has become the most popular type of business because it provides liability protection but with much less complexity (and taxation) than a Corporation. LLCs are registered with the California Secretary of State LLC Division.

  • File an Articles of Organization Form LLC-1 with the California Secretary of State LLC Division.
  • Once the articles are filed and approved you will need to issue member certificates, adopt the operating agreement and complete other tasks.

 A Corporation is a separate entity (provides liability protection to the owners) that has a structure that includes shareholders, directors and officers. More complex than a DBA but the entity of choice for large companies and startups that intend to raise funding. Some professions are required to choose what is known as a “Professional Corporation” or PC (doctors, lawyers, architects, etc.) Corporations are registered with the California Secretary of State LLC Division.

  • File an Articles of Incorporation form ARTS-GS with the California Secretary of State Corporation Division.
  • Hold an organizational meeting to determine the percentage of ownership for each shareholder. 
STEP 3: OBTAIN YOUR FEDERAL EMPLOYER IDENTIFICATION NUMBER (FEIN OR “EIN”)

An EIN is like a Social Security Number for your company. It’s required for Corporations and LLCs and optional for DBAs with employees. However, if you have a DBA without employees and opt not to obtain an EIN, you will be forced to use your Social Security Number on many documents; therefore, it’s typically recommended you obtain the EIN to prevent identity theft. You can apply online with the IRS or via IRS Form SS-4.

 WANT PERMIT, APPROVAL AND LICENSE INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOUR TYPE OF BUSINESS?
Choose Your Path: Permits, approvals and licensing information based on type of business

STEP 4: ZONING, CODES & PERMITS

 City zoning and building codes exist to protect you and your neighbors from incompatible uses. For example, it may not be safe for a childcare center to be located next door to a chemical manufacturing plant. Zoning and building code restrictions help avoid this potential hazard.

Before signing a building/property lease or purchase agreement, contact the City of San Ramon’s Planning Services Division to determine the zoning for the site.

 CITY PERMITS & LICENSE

Your business may require permits and site inspections by the Fire Department and/or Planning Services Division and Building & Safety Services Division as part of your application approval, depending on your business type and/or if you are making improvements to a building.

Contact the Permit Center for assistance. Permit fees may vary depending on the size and location of the project.

  • Construction Permits The City of San Ramon issues Construction Permits to ensure construction is safe for occupancy and use. Construction Permits are needed for all new construction additions, alterations, and remodels in San Ramon.
  • Sign Permits If your business would like to display a sign that is visible from the outside of a building, a sign permit is required. The Planning Services Division and Building & Safety Services Division will perform a “Design Review” to ensure your sign complies with the Municipal Code
  • Encroachment Permits An Encroachment Permit is required for any use of the public sidewalk or right-of-way for such uses like sidewalk seating, merchandise displays, or any work in the public right-of-way during construction.
  • Fire Code Permits A Fire Code Permit from the Fire Preventive Division is required if you want to conduct specific activities and practices. Use of hazardous substances or material may require additional review and/or permits. Proof of insurance will be required.
STEP 5: APPLY FOR A BUSINESS LICENSE

As you prepare to open the doors of your business in San Ramon, we’ve made getting a business license easy.

All individuals, partnerships, corporations, and sole proprietors conducting business in the City of San Ramon are required to have a Business License. This includes personnel dealing with residential and commercial real estate rentals who operate home-based businesses within the City. Business licenses expire one (1) year from the date that they are issued. Notices are sent to license holders thirty (30) days prior to their annual renewal date.

To obtain a business license, visit the Permit Center or find Business License information and an application online.

 

$44 Minimum Fee for Business License

Running a Home-Based Business

San Ramon allows some types of businesses to be operated at a residential property. Business owners need to apply to have a home-based business. This is in addition to obtaining a Business License.

 

$100 Home Occupation Permit Fee


STEP 6: OTHER AGENCY PERMITS

Depending on the type of business, you may be required to obtain permits or licenses from the following County, State or Federal agencies: