Thinking of starting a business in Santa Cruz? There are
people, agencies and websites available to advise and guide you through
this process. Make sure to check all of the top-priority items (noted by
an *) to see if they apply to your business, then get additional
assistance from the general resource list. The Santa Cruz Public Library
wants to help you succeed!
Here's What You Need
Licenses are required for most businesses. Business owners should contact the licensing department for each city in which the business is located or being operated.
If your business will be based in one city, but you plan to operate in
several cities, you may need a license from each city. To be sure, check
with the tax and license division in each city where you intend to
operate. Phone numbers and web addresses for business license offices in
Santa Cruz County are:
Individual downloadable brochures entitled License & Permit Information are available for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties from the Santa Cruz Small Business Development Center's website.
The County of Santa Cruz also has restrictions and requires permits
on some types of businesses operating in the unincorporated as well as
incorporated areas. Because the regulations change from time to time, it
is recommended that you contact the County Planning Department,
454-2580, to determine if a permit is required before opening your
business. The most common businesses requiring permits from other
departments are: ambulance, card rooms, bingo, food establishments,
garbage collection, kennels, organized camps, pet shops, public swimming
pools and target ranges.
You should contact the Planning (or Building) Department of the city
for businesses in incorporated areas, or the County Planning Department
for businesses in unincorporated areas, to make certain that your
business location is zoned for your particular type of business. The
phone numbers are as follows:
In addition to the licenses and permits mentioned above, certain professions and businesses require state licenses.
A few of the more common are: automobile repair shops, bars, liquor
stores, electrical appliance repair shops, contractors, cosmetologists,
insurance sales, collection agencies, real estate sales, lawyers, and
medical professionals. The California Department of Consumer Affairs
provides information to the public about the more than 150 professional
license types which it issues, and also offers online licensing
services (https://www.breeze.ca.gov/). The California Business Portal
features information about the state's permit, licensing and
business/professional registration requirements plus a wide variety of
helpful resources for starting, financing, expanding, or relocating a
business in California (http://www.businessportal.ca.gov).
If you are going to be selling or preparing food, you will need to
obtain a permit from the County Department of Environmental Health, 701
Ocean St., Room 312, Santa Cruz 95060, 454-2022 (to speak with an
Inspector, call between 8-9am).
*FICTITIOUS BUSINESS NAME*
A fictitious business name is one that does not include the surname of the individual owner and each of the partners or
the nature of the business is not clearly evident by the name. Those
who do need to file should do so within the first 40 days of doing
business. You can get further information from the Santa Cruz County
Clerk's Office, 701 Ocean Street, Room 210, Santa Cruz 95060, 454-2060
(Mon - Fri, 8 am - 5 pm); you can download the necessary forms or do an
online business name search from the office's website (http://www.sccoclerk.com/CountyClerkHome/FictitiousBusinessNames.aspx).
*SELLER'S PERMITS/RESALE NUMBERS*
Retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers must obtain seller's permits
from The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA),
950 E. Blanco Road Suite 202, Salinas, CA 93901. Phone numbers are:
(831) 754-4500 and FAX (831) 755-7921. The CDTFA Office located at 250
S. Second Street, San Jose, 95113-2706 now accepts office appointments
(call 408-277-1231 to schedule). Also, forms and instructions can be
found at https://www.cdtfa.ca.gov/taxes-and-fees/sutprograms.htm.
Information about corporate filings may be obtained from: Secretary of State, 1500 11th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. The California Business Portal, maintained by the Secretary's office (http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/),
offers a wealth of additional information, including: corporate name
availability and reservation, incorporation forms, and tax information,
plus links to other agencies as well as state/federal business
resources. The Secretary of State also has a San Francisco office at:
455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14500, San Francisco, CA 94102-7007; (415)
If you want to obtain non-profit status for an organization or business, look for the book How to Form a Nonprofit Corporation in California
by Anthony Mancuso, published by Nolo Press. This book contains
step-by-step instructions and forms. Find it in the library at OVERSIZE
346.7306 MAN. Forms and general information can be found online at http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/business-entities/forms/, and Publication 927 from the CA Franchise Tax Board offers an overview.
Locally, the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County
provides grants and management assistance to nonprofit organizations,
public sector agencies, and community groups to help them address the
needs of county residents. You can contact the office at (831) 662-2000,
email them at CFHelp@cfscc.org or check the group's website, https://www.cfscc.org/ for further information.
*EMPLOYEE RELATED REQUIREMENTS*
If you plan to hire employees, there are additional requirements that must be fulfilled:
Workforce Santa Cruz County is a
nonprofit service agency which provides a wide range of free
employment-related services to both employers and job-seekers in Santa
Cruz County. Call the Santa Cruz office at 423-8611, the Capitola office
at 464-6286, or the Watsonville office at 763-8700 for further
information or a schedule of services and classes (including the popular
Resume Workshop). You can also check the agency's website http://www.workforcescc.com/ to access local job boards or use the Virtual Career Center.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Registration is not required, but you may be interested in checking with the Chamber of Commerce in your area:
These organizations offer a wide range of services including
referrals, advertising, business start-up kits and networking
opportunities--call the one near you for more information.
COPYRIGHT AND PATENT INFORMATION
For copyright information, contact the U.S. Copyright Office, 101
Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, DC 20559 6000, (202) 707-3000, (http://www.copyright.gov). For patent information, check the website of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov) for a full list of customer support services and contact information. In this area, the San Jose Public Library
is a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), offering free
access to patent and trademark documents in various formats including
through the USPTO Web site http://www.uspto.gov. Contact the library for hours and further information: San Jose Public Library website (https://www.sjpl.org/ptrc), or 408-808-2397.
TRADEMARKS AND SERVICEMARKS
For information about registering a trademark or servicemark, check the California Business Portal (http://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/ts/) online or the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov).
You can also contact California's Trademarks/Service Marks Office, P.O.
Box 942870, Sacramento, CA 94277-2870, (916) 653-3984.
SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE
The Santa Cruz Small Business Development Center (SBDC - located at
Cabrillo College), 479-6136, provides free professional counseling for
small businesses and offers low or no cost workshops and seminars.
SBDC's website (http://www.santacruzsbdc.org/)
links to an application form to request free of charge help, as well as
to a wide range of business resources produced by local, state and
Free business counseling and low-cost workshops are available through
SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives). Contact Santa Cruz County
SCORE (621-3735) to make an appointment, or check their home page (https://santacruz.score.org/) for information about upcoming local workshops and programs.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers many programs and
services designed to help small businesses succeed. The SBA also has a
number of low cost business development pamphlets and booklets
available. The nearest SBA District office is located at 455 Market St.,
Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 744-6820, http://www.sba.gov, or contact the SBDC office for information.
The Santa Cruz Public Libraries has
many publications to assist an entrepreneur starting a small business.
Consult the staff, in person or by phone (427-7713), to find out about
our up-to-date resources or browse on your own by connecting to the
library's Public Access Catalog from the Library's home page (www.santacruzpl.org).
For additional information, see the other helpful websites listed below.