Step 4. Register the Business

Once you have chosen your business entity, developed a business plan, and found your space, you are ready to register your business

California Incorporation Registration (for partnerships, corporations, nonprofits, limited liability entities)

The Secretary of State

Which forms do I need?

Federal Requirements
Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number

Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) is required for most businesses; only sole proprietors with no employees are not required to have EIN. Sole Proprietors use their Social Security Numbers as an EIN.

  • SS4 Form
  • Online application
  • By phone, call the Tele-TIN phone number toll free at 800-829-4933 between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM
  • In person, visit
    450 Golden Gate Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 941027
    Monday - Friday 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM

Non U.S. Citizens must get a Taxpayer identification Number (TIN) from the IRS before filing for their local business license.

Place to Register
CIS (Immigration and Naturalization Service)
444 Washington Street, San Francisco
or call 1-800-870-3676.
The office is open from 7:00 AM - 3:00 PM, by appointment only. Ask for the I-129 form and pamphlet and information on getting an "E-Visa".

City Registration
All San Francisco businesses must register at the Tax Collector's Office within 15 days of starting business.

Understanding the SF Business Registration Certificate (PDF) 

Business Registration Certificate (PDF)

Nonprofits - Declaration of Exemption from Business Registration Certificate (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How long does it take to receive a Business Registration Certificate?
A: A Business Registration Certificate will be mailed to the mailing address on file within ten (10) business days of the starting date indicated when the business was registered with the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. In the event that the business owner needs the certificate sooner, a temporary certificate can be requested.

Q: How long does my registration last? Do I need to renew my registration?
A: The business registration certificate is issued on a yearly basis. The one-year registration period is based on San Francisco's fiscal year calendar which begins on July 1 and ends June 30th of the following year. Every year thereafter, the Business Tax Registration Certificate is renewed each year in February for the following full fiscal year.

Q: What is the fee for the Business Registration Certificate?
A: For new businesses, the first year's registration fee is based on the tax due on its estimated payroll expense liability as reported on the Application for Business Tax Registration. The tax rate on payroll expense is 1.5%. Businesses that hire employees to perform work or render services within San Francisco pay registration fees based upon their total payroll expense attributable to San Francisco.

Estimated Tax Due On
Payroll Expense Registration Fee
Registration Fee
Less than $1.00
(Taxable Payroll is zero)
$1.00 - $10,000
(Taxable Payroll is between $0.01- $666,666.66)
$10,001 - $50,000
(Taxable Payroll is between $666,666.67 and $3,333,333.33)
$50,001 and over
(Taxable Payroll is over $3,333,333.33)

Place to Register:
Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector
City Hall, Room 140
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Assessor-Recorder Registration:

All new businesses must complete the New Business Information Form and submit it by mail or in person to the Assessor-Recorder's Office.

New Business Information Form (PDF)

Business Personal Property
1155 Market St., 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 554-5531 Fax: (415)554-5544


Small Business Assistance Center, City Hall, Room 110, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: 415-554-6134 Office Hours: M-F, 8 AM - 5 PM