Start a Business

Forms for doing business in Carmel-by-the-Sea can be downloaded from the Business Services page of the Online Services section of this website.

Q: How do I know if what I'm doing is considered a "business" or not?
A: 5.04.030 Evidence of Doing Business.

  • When any person making use of signs, circulars, cards, telephone books or newspapers advertises, holds out, or represents that s/he is in business in this City, or when any person holds an active license or permit issued by a governmental agency, indicating that s/he is in business in this City, and such person fails to deny by a sworn statement given the collector that s/he is not conducting a business in this City, after being requested to do so by the collector, then these facts shall be considered prima facie evidence that s/he is conducting a business in the City.
  • Until proper evidence to the contrary is presented to the collector, the collector shall be entitle to treat all business accounted for from a Carmel-by-the-Sea location as transactions subject to a tax. (Ord. 96-12 § 1, 1996).


Q: What will I need to start my business in Carmel-by-the-Sea?
A: The following steps outline the procedure for starting a business in Carmel-by-the-Sea:

  1. Verify that the location in which you wish to do business is zoned for that purpose and apply for a Certificate of Occupancy. Zoning information and Certificate of Occupancy applications can be obtained from the Zoning Division of the Planning Department.

    5.04.040 Certificate of Occupancy.
    No business shall be conducted at any fixed place of business within any zoning district in this City until such time as a certificate of occupancy has been issued by the Building Official of the City. (Ord. 96-12 § 1, 1996).

  2. Determine your type of ownership. If operating as a sole proprietor, skip to Step 4. If operating as other than a Sole Proprietor, check with the State regarding filing requirements and file for a Federal Employer Identification Number. Corporations and non-profit corporations must register with the Secretary of State Limited Liability companies (LLC), limited liability partnerships (LLP), limited partnerships, and general partnerships should call the Secretary of State Sacramento office for filing requirements.

  3. Obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Fresno, California office of the Internal Revenue Service. Fill out an SS4 form ("Application for Federal Employer Identification Number") and have it processed by phone, fax or mail.

  4. Check to make sure that the business name(s) you wish to use for your business is not currently registered with the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Monterey County.

  5. Register your business with Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector within fifteen days of the start of business.

  6. If using a Fictitious Business Name (a.k.a. "FBN" or "dba" - "doing business as"), file a "Fictitious Business Name Statement" with the Office of the County Clerk.

  7. Certain types of businesses require additional permits and licenses from the local, state or federal government (permits and/or licenses from departments of Health, Fire and/or Police Departments, Seller's Permit, building permits, etc.).


    See “Taxes, Permits & Licenses” for more information.