The State of California does not require or issue business licenses for sole proprietorship's or general partnerships. Other business structures, however, must register with the state. All businesses located in an incorporated city in Sonoma County must first obtain a business license from that city. The county does not require a business license to do business within its unincorporated areas.
Bottom line: Business license is needed if you are doing retail sales in a municipality (e.g. farmers market, storefront). It is not needed if you are selling wholesale (e.g. to restaurants, markets).
The following resource can be of help.
- City Business Licensing Requirements by EDB
- Small Business Start-up Guide for Northern California by US Small Business Administration. State agencies, departments, and offices responsible for processing and monitoring state-mandated licensing requirements are included with addresses and phone numbers.
- SBDC (Small Biz Development Center) Napa-Sonoma has a consultant for ag.
- SCORE: Free business advice for small businesses by retired business professionals.
Required for selling products in California by the CA Department of Tax & Fee Administration. Register for a Sellers Permit online.
As your business grows, you may find that you need to hire your first employee. There are several steps you need to take before you bring on someone. For more information, check out this information provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or connect with a mentor from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC).
Fictitious business name
Register with the Sonoma County Clerk. Generally, this registration would apply if:
- an individual is doing business under a name other than their own
- the name suggests the existence of additional owners
- the name does not include the surname of each general partner.
If you plan to operate a business under a name other than your own, a fictitious business name statement is required in Sonoma County. Forms and information are online or call (707) 565-3700.
Tax ID Number
Businesses that hire employees need to obtain an Employer ID Number from the IRS, otherwise, use your individual TIN. Visit Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center for more information.
California State Board of Equalization (BOE) regulates sales/use taxes, visit their site for the Tax Guide for the Agricultural Industry.
In some cases, purchases made by agricultural businesses are exempt from sales tax including:
- Animals, Feed, and Related Supplies
- Farm and Garden Supplies
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
- Farm Equipment and Machinery
- Diesel Fuel Used in Farming or Food Processing
- Publication 66: Agricultural Industry - refer to page 4 to find the use tax exemption for items listed above and sample certificates.
- Exemption for Farm Equipment & Machinery information and forms.
- Sales & Use Tax Regulations - revenue and taxation code (use search feature to find specific items).