The City of Pasadena welcomes you to the business community. We are pleased that you have selected our city for your business enterprise. We are also here to assist you through the business license process. The information provided to begin the license procedure is intended as a public service and is not all inclusive. Any additional questions should be directed to the Business Services Section.
Monday through Friday 7:30 am – 5:15 pm
City of Pasadena Business Services Section
100 North Garfield Avenue, Room N106
P.O. Box 7115
Pasadena, CA 91109-7215
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With a few exceptions, most Pasadena business license tax is computed based on a flat rate plus the number of employees. For rates associated with your specific business license classification, please contact a representative in the Business License Section.
The Pasadena Municipal Code requires a license for all businesses operating within the City limits to pay an annual business license tax whether or not the business is carried on for profit or not. The business tax year varies by business license classification. Business tax permits are not transferable from owner to owner. The new owner must apply for a business license in his or her own name.
A business license may be transferred to a new location upon written notification or in person. A change in the location of the business will require a new application and approval from the appropriate city departments. There is a fee associated with this process.
If your business operations cease prior to the expiration date you are required to notify the Business Services Section in writing of the date that your business closed.
A separate license must be obtained for each branch establishment, separate office or place at which business is conducted within the city limits. A separate license is also required when more than one business activity is conducted at the same location, and the activity falls into a classification other than the original license or under a different owner.
Charitable non-profit businesses are required to obtain a business license. With proof of exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service the business is exempt from business license fee requirements. You must submit at time of application of your business license a copy of your 501-C3 form for exemption consideration.
A seller’s permit from the State Board of Equalization indicating your Pasadena business address is required if your business operations involve the sale of retail or wholesale tangible property.
If your business involves the sale of alcoholic beverages you will be required to file and obtain a permit from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. Questions regarding permit requirement should be directed to the Alcohol Beverage Control Board at (310)412-6311.
If the name of the business is different from the owner’s full name a fictitious name or DBA must be registered with the Los Angeles County Recorder or through a local newspaper. A fictitious name filing is also required for a corporation that is different from the one that is registered in the articles of incorporation.
If you plan to incorporate your business you are required to file and receive approval from the California Secretary of State.
If your business has employees or to obtain a 540 form to estimate State Withholding Tax for yourself, please contact the Franchise Tax Board at (800) 853-5711 and Internal Revenue Service for your federal identification number at (800) 572-7981. You should also contact the State Worker’s Compensation Fund for information and questions regarding worker’s compensation insurance for your employees at (213) 853-5711.
All businesses located in a commercial area will require a code compliance inspection to confirm compliance with the City’s zoning requirements. If you would like more information regarding code compliance requirements, please contact the Code Compliance Section at (626) 744-4633.
All businesses and residences that have an alarm system that alerts the police department or others of an unlawful entry are required to obtain a permit for the alarm system. The City of Pasadena imposes fines for operating without an alarm permit as well as excessive false alarms.
Any person or entity that owns commercial property within the limits of the city or owns a residential rental property of (3) three or more units are required to obtain a business tax permit for the building. Commercial building owners that operate a business on the premises of their building are not exempt but may receive owner occupied credit.
Terms of New Business License
All business license fees are paid in advance and are due prior to the operation of the business. The license is valid for the license year established by business license classification and must be renewed annually. The expiration date of the license year is noted on the front of the business tax permit. It is the sole responsibility of the business owner to make sure that the business license is renewed annually.
Definition of an Employee
For the purpose of business license taxation in the City of Pasadena, an employee is defined as a person engaged in the operation or conduct of any business, whether as owner or the owner’s family, partner, agent, manager, solicitor and, any and all others employed or working in connection with the business whether paid or not.
Any business that prepares or sells food is required to obtain health approval from the Pasadena Health Department. For specifics or questions regarding health license regulations, please contact the Environmental Health Department at (626) 744-6004.
Display of License
The business license must be prominently displayed at the place of business.
Additional Requirements For Businesses Operating in the South Lake Business Improvement District
Businesses that are located in the South Lake Business Improvement District are assessed an additional fee. In January 1988, Pasadena’s Council Members approved the South Lake Business Improvement District and agreed to collect fees from participating businesses on behalf of the South Lake Business Association. The South Lake Business Improvement District was set up to fund activities and projects aimed for the long-term betterment of South Lake’s commercial area, including physical improvements and the overall promotion of businesses. Every business within the district is assessed an annual fee. The fee includes a basic assessment plus an amount based on a formula consisting of number of employees and type of business and location of business.
Home Based Businesses
In some instances and under certain conditions a business may be operated in a residence. The use must be secondary to the residence and cannot have signage or merchandise displayed. Garages and carports cannot be used in conjunction with the business and only residents of the household can be employed by the business. Certain business types are prohibited from the residence and include but are not limited to automotive repairs, hair salons and medical offices.
All businesses operating from a residence must be in compliance with all zoning requirements and must obtain an approved Home Occupation Permit from the Code Compliance Section and a signed permission from the property owner.
For further information and questions, contact Code Compliance Section at (626) 744-4633.
Please note, for an initial business license you MUST apply in person. To download the appropriate license application, please click on the next tab “Applications.”
Pay License Online
Online renewal system is currently unavailable and will be coming in 2019.
Pay License By Phone
To pay by credit card over the telephone, please call the Business License Section at (626) 744-4166. Please be sure to have your credit card and business license account number available when placing our call.
Pay License By Mail
If paying by mail, payment must be made by check, money order or credit card. Please make your check payable to The City of Pasadena. Checks and money orders payable by banks outside of the United States are not accepted as well as two-party checks. Please do not mail cash.
Pay License In Person
For your convenience, a business license may be paid in person.
In person, you may pay with cash, check, money order, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and most ATM cards are accepted.