Register a Business

San Francisco's Business and Tax Regulations generally requires that every person engaging in business within the City must register within 15 days after commencing business and renewed every year by May 31st. Business  Registration is generally valid for one fiscal year July 1st through June 30th.  

New Business Registration Application

Watch our instructional video on completing the new business registration application.

San Francisco’s Business and Tax Regulations Code generally requires that every person engaging in business within the City, regardless of whether the business or person is subject to taxation, must register within 15 days after commencing business within the City. 

In general, businesses must register if any of the below statements are true:

Unless otherwise required, you do not need to register if your only business is the receipt of rental income in connection with the operation of any of the following:
  1. A cooperative housing corporation, as defined in Section 216(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
  2. One residential structure consisting of fewer than four units; or
  3. One residential condominium.

A single-member entity (including a single-member limited liability company) treated as a disregarded entity for federal income tax purposes will be disregarded for purposes of the Business Registration requirements. Each such entity will be treated as a sole proprietorship, branch, or division of its owner. The owner of the disregarded entity will be the registrant.

If your only business activity in San Francisco is as a driver for a taxi and/or a Transportation Network Company (TNC), you are no longer required to register as a business, or renew your existing business registration. 

Business Registration Fees for new businesses are based on San Francisco gross receipts or payroll expense for the current calendar year, and the business activity types selected. Use Schedule B if your business consists solely of the business activities of Certain Services (e.g. Repair/Maintenance, Personal/Laundry, Civic Orgs), Retail Trade, and/or Wholesale Trade (described on page 1 of the Application).  If your business does anything else, use Schedule A.

What is my business activity?
What are San Francisco Gross Receipts?

Business Registration Fees for the registration year beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2022.

2020 San Francisco Gross ReceiptsSchedule ASchedule BState Fee
$0 to $100,000$52$43$4
$100,000.01 to $250,000$86$72$4
$250,000.01 to $500,000$144$115$4
$500,000.01 to $750,000$288$230$4
$750,000.01 to $1,000,000$403$345$4
$1,000,000.01 to $1,500,000$575$475$4
$1,500,000.01 to $2,000,000$805$665$4
$2,000,000.01 to $2,500,000$345$230$4
$2,500,000.01 to $7,500,000$575$460$4
$7,500,000.01 to $15,000,000$1,725$1,294$4
$15,000,000.01 to $25,000,000$5,751$4,313$4
$25,000,000.01 to $50,000,000$14,379$8,627$4
$50,000,000.01 to $100,000,000$25,882$17,255$4
$100,000,000.01 to $200,000,000$34,510$23,006$4
$200,000,000.01 and over$40,261$34,510$4

 

For businesses that qualify as Administrative Offices, the following Business Registration Fees apply for the registration year beginning July 1, 2021 and ending June 30, 2022.

2020 San Francisco Payroll Expense

2021-22 AOT Rate

State Fee

$0 to $2,500,000

$17,551

$4

$2,500,000.01 to $25,000,000

$29,253

$4

$25,000,000.01 or more

$40,954

$4

 


New businesses that register after the beginning of the registration year will have their registration fees prorated, except for those who qualify for the minimum registration fee for Schedule A or Schedule B  and AOT Rate.  

Business Start Date  Prorated Fee
July 1 - September 30100% of the fee
October 1 - December 3175% of the fee
January 1 - March 3150% of the fee
April 1 - June 3025% of the fee

 

A Business Registration Certificate will be mailed within 10-15 business days once the application is submitted and payment processed. The Business Registration Certificate must be conspicuously displayed at your place of business and renewed annually by May 31st. You will not get a printed Business Registration Certificate if:

  1. You did not renew your registration by the deadline and pay the annual registration fee
  2. You owe any taxes or fees (see: Payment Portal)
  3. Your mailing address is not up to date. Update your mailing address.

To check the status of your account, submit a help desk ticket

Note that business Information may be shared with other departments in the City and County of San Francisco, including, but not limited to the following departments: Office of the Assessor & Recorder; Department of Public Health; Fire and Police Departments; Entertainment Commission and Office of Short Term Rental. The following information you provide will be available to the public via DataSF.org, listed on your registration certificate, and/or available through public record requests:

  • Business/Ownership Name
  • Business Start Date
  • Mailing Address
  • Business Account Number
  • DBA Name
  • Business Activity Code / NAICS code
  • Third party tax collection (i.e. if your business is subject to collection or remittance of parking tax or transient occupancy tax)
  • Location Address
  • Location Start Date
  • License code (if applicable)

DataSF.org

Request a Public Record

All other information provided is considered confidential and treated in accordance with applicable laws.  Taxpayer confidential data will not be available on the website.

Short-Term Residential Hosts ("Host") are San Francisco residents who rent out (less than 30 days) any portion of their residence.  Earning income from a short-term residential rental, regardless of the amount, is considered a business, therefore, you are required to register.  Some hosts may be exempt from the business registration fee. The application will ask you specific questions about your business If your business qualifies for a refund, it will be processed automatically. You do not need to take any action.

After completing the business registration, you must Register as a Host with the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and begin filing and paying transient occupancy taxes (if applicable). 

Register a new business      Transient Occupancy Tax

After you become a Registered Bidder, you need to take additional steps before you can become an Approved Supplier and be fully awarded City contracts:

  1. Complete a San Francisco New Business Registration Application.  You will be asked for your Bidder ID number during the  registration process. If you are already registered in San Francisco, you need to  connect your San Francisco Business Account Number with your existing Bidder ID/Supplier ID to proceed.
  2.  Complete a 12B Equal Benefits Declaration.

Once your Business Registration information has been entered and accepted into the PeopleSoft system, your Bidder ID will be converted to a Supplier ID and you will receive a notification with your new Supplier ID number. Your SF City Partner login should remain unchanged but should now direct you to your business' Supplier account (and not your prior Bidder account). For Additional information and assistance to becoming a Registered Bidder/Approved Supplier visit the San Francisco City Partner site.

Not sure if you are required to register?

Complete this questionnaire. If you are not required to register the form will have you declare those facts. If you are required to register, the form will take you to the online business registration application. It's important to select "Yes" or "No" to each question on the form so you are routed correctly.

Before You Begin

Have the following information ready before you begin the application:

  • The legal structure of your business
  • Federal Tax Identification Number (FEIN, SSN, or TIN)
  • A valid email address that you can access
  • Estimated San Francisco Gross Receipts for the current calendar year, and San Francisco Gross Receipts for prior calendar years (if applicable)
  • Estimated San Francisco Payroll expense for the current calendar year, and San Francisco Payroll expense for prior calendar years (if applicable)
  • The address of each location in San Francisco where you do business
  • Business Account Number of the existing business if you’re purchasing or changing the structure of an existing business
  • Payment information (credit card, debit card or checking information)

After you submit the application, you will receive an email from DocuSign at the email address you provide on the Business Identification page. 

If you do not DocuSign the application within 15 days, the application will be deleted, and you will need to complete a new application to register your business.

Once you’ve completed the DocuSign, you will be emailed a signed PDF version of the application for your records.

Organization Type

Organization Type - Describes the way this business entity is formed. For more information about the organization types listed, please consult http://businessportal.sfgov.org/ or discuss with your tax professional.

Is this business a non-profit? – If this business is a non-profit, answer Yes.  Otherwise, answer No.

Business Identification

Business Name - The name(s) this organization is using to conduct business in San Francisco. For sole proprietors and general partnerships not registered with the Secretary of State, this will be the name of the individual owner(s). For other entities, provide the entity name as registered with the California Secretary of State.

Business Tax Identification Number - A Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) - For sole proprietors, the business identification number may be the same as the individual’s Social Security Number (SSN) or TIN, if applicable.
  • Federal Identification Number (FEIN, a.k.a. EIN) - An FEIN is required for all partnerships, corporations, and LLCs (single-member LLCs without an FEIN may use a SSN). This number is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - An ITIN is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get an SSN.

Start Date in San Francisco - The date the entity started business activity in San Francisco. Future start dates are not permitted.

Telephone number and Business email address – Enter the telephone number and business email address.  The completed business registration application will be sent to this email address for digital signature via DocuSign.

Are you establishing the business to be a vendor (City Bidder/Supplier) or participate in procurement processes with the City and County of San Francisco? Selecting "yes" enables the business to be set up to receive payments from the City and County of San Francisco as a vendor or grantee. More information on how to qualify to do business with the City at: Become a Supplier 

Correspondence ID - If you received a letter from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector instructing you to register, enter the Correspondence ID from the top right corner of the letter here.

Business Mailing Address

Mailing Address - The business mailing address is the ONLY address to which this office will mail documents and correspondence including personal identification number (PIN) to file and pay taxes, business licenses, notifications to renew your business registration, and refunds. Any valid mailing address (including a postal box) is acceptable. A business can only have one mailing address. This address does not need to be located in San Francisco.

Our office validates mailing addresses against a United States Postal Service database.  If we are unable to validate the mailing address you enter, we will prompt you to review and update the address you entered.  If desired, you may continue without making additional changes to the address you entered.

Change of Ownership

Is this a change of ownership for an existing business? If you are registering a business that is a change of ownership for an existing business (change to organization type or change to ownership), and you know the Business Account Number (BAN) of the previously registered business, click Yes. Otherwise, click No.

Type of ownership change – If this registration is because of an ownership change for an existing business, select the type of ownership change: Change in Entity’s Organization Type or Change in Entity’s Ownership.

Business Account Number of existing business - If you are registering a business that is a change of ownership for an existing business, enter the Business Account Number (BAN) of the existing business. The business name associated to that BAN will populate in “Previous business name.”  Be sure it is correct before you Continue.  If you enter an invalid BAN for the previous business, you will not be able to Continue until you correct it or delete it.

Ownership Information

Ownership Details - Owners have the authority to make changes to the business account.  After you have entered or edited at least one owner, you may enter additional owners by clicking the “+ Add Owner” button.

Owner Name - For owners that are general partnerships not registered with the Secretary of State, list the full names of all partners. For all other owners that are entities, provide the entity name as registered with the Secretary of State. For a trust, list the trustee as the owner.  You may also copy the information you entered on the Business Identification page by clicking the “Copy” button.

Owner Tax ID Number (SSN, FEIN, TIN) - All businesses, including nonprofits, are required to list the Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) of at least one owner. A TIN is an identification number used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the administration of tax laws:

  • Social Security Number (SSN) - For sole proprietors, the business identification number may be the same as the individual’s Social Security Number (SSN) or TIN, if applicable.
  • Federal Identification Number (FEIN, a.k.a. EIN) - An FEIN is required for all partnerships, corporations, and LLCs (single-member LLCs without an FEIN may use a SSN). This number is obtained from the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) - An ITIN is a tax processing number only available for certain nonresident and resident aliens, their spouses, and dependents who cannot get an SSN.

Owner Address – Enter the mailing address for each owner.  Reminder: notices and communication from our office will ONLY be sent to the business mailing address provided on the Business Identification page.

Business Officer Information - Business Officers are individuals such as a corporate officer, general or managing partner, board member or member of the registering business. Officers listed on the business registration application have the authority to make changes to the business account. This information is not required and can be kept blank.

Identification of Business Activities

Using the categories provided, select all applicable business activities at each location in San Francisco, regardless of the amount of gross receipts that the business activity is expected to generate. This information may be shared publicly and used for published information about business activity in San Francisco.

For more information on the business activities codes (NAICS codes) listed, go to: Business Activities / NAICS Codes

Note: categories added to NAICS for San Francisco use are 4 & 6 - “Biotechnology” and “Clean Technology.” These business activities are described in sections 953.2(e)(1 ) and 953.2(e)(2) of the San Francisco Business and Tax Regulations Code, respectively.

If you are engaged in any business activities not listed, check the box next to line 20, and describe the activity or activities in the space provided.

Are all your business activities wholly within San Francisco? If all of your business activities are wholly within San Francisco, answer Yes.  If not, answer No.

Business Information

You must answer all questions on this page to Continue to the next page.

What is the average number of employees per week, including those outside of San Francisco? Enter the average number of employees per week including those employed outside of San Francisco for this business.

What is the estimated San Francisco payroll expense for the current calendar year? Enter the estimated amount of San Francisco payroll expense expected during the current calendar year.

What is the estimated San Francisco gross receipts for the current calendar year? Enter the estimated amount of San Francisco gross receipts expected during the current calendar year. In general, "gross receipts" includes the total amounts received or accrued by a person from whatever source derived, including, but not limited to, amounts derived from sales, services, dealings in property, interest, rent, royalties, dividends, licensing fees, other fees, commissions and distributed amounts from other business entities. 

Does this business have taxable Business Personal Property in San Francisco? Business Personal Property includes items like machinery, equipment, fixtures, and leasehold improvements held or used in connection with a trade or business. Business property owners must file a property statement each year with the Business Personal Property Division (BPP) of the Office of the Assessor-Recorder detailing the acquisition cost of all supplies, equipment, fixtures, and improvements owned at each location within the City and County of San Francisco.

Does this business receive rental income from four or more residential units in one building? A lessor of residential real estate (landlord) is required to submit a separate Business Registration Application for each building with four or more residential rental units. Buildings that meet this criteria may not be included on the same application as different locations, and may not be included on the same application as different business activities, whether at this location or other locations. 

Is this business subject to the cannabis tax? The Cannabis Business Tax was approved by San Francisco voters on November 6, 2018 and becomes effective on January 1, 2022. In addition to the existing Gross Receipts Tax, the Cannabis Business Tax imposes a gross receipts tax of 1% to 5% on the gross receipts from Cannabis Business Activities attributable to the City.

Is this business exempt from paying the Registration fee? Any organization or person documenting the following shall not be required to pay a registration fee:

  1. Any organization having a formally recognized exemption from income taxation pursuant to Section 501(c), 501(d) or 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended,
  2. As qualified by Sections 502, 503, 504 and 508 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
  3. A person receiving rental income in connection with the operation of a cooperative housing corporation, as defined in Section 216(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; one residential structure consisting of fewer than four units; or one residential condominium.

A person shall be exempt from paying the registration fee required by this Section if and to the extent that, and only so long as, federal or state law prohibits the imposition of the registration fee upon such person. If you select this box, you will be required to upload proof of tax-exempt status for our office to review.

Ownership Taxes and Fees

Select yes or no for each tax type listed.  For more information about the tax type, click “more info.”  Note that if you indicated that this business is a change of ownership for a previously registered business, the answers below are defaulted to reflect the answers for the previous business.  Please review and confirm before proceeding. 

Location Details

Each location name, fictitious business name (“FBN”) or DBA (“Doing Business As”) name should be listed as a separate location. 

To copy the information entered on the Business Identification page, click the “Copy from Business Identification page” button.

After you have entered at least one location, you may enter additional locations by clicking the “+ Add Location” button.

Location Name, Trade Name or DBA - Each location name, fictitious business name (“FBN”), or DBA (“Doing Business As”) name should be listed as a separate location. If the Location Name is the same as your Business Name, list your Business Name on this line. After registering with the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector, all businesses with one or more locations in San Francisco and using an FBN must register the name with the County Clerk.

Location start date in San Francisco - The date the registrant started business activity in San Francisco at this location. Future start dates are not permitted.  This date must be on or after the business start date entered on the Business Identification page.

Is this location a ground floor commercial location? If this location is a ground floor commercial location, select Yes.  If not, select No.

Previous Location Identification Number (LIN) – If you are registering a business that is a change of ownership or change of organization type for a previously existing registered business, select the previous business location from the drop down.  This is not a required field.

Location Address

Enter the address for this business location. To copy the information entered on the Business Identification page, click the “Copy from Business Identification page” button.

Location Taxes & Fees

Select all applicable tax/fee types for the particular location. Failure to select an applicable tax or fee type may result in penalties and interest. Some tax types, such as third party taxes for transient occupancy operators, parking operators, and utility providers, have additional requirements. For more information about these requirements, visit the Taxes & Fees section of our website.

Note: If you indicated that this location is a change of ownership for a previously registered location, the answers below have defaulted to reflect the answers for the previous location. Please review and confirm before proceeding.

Note: A short-term residential rental host (“host”) is a person that receives rent in exchange for providing short-term (less than 30 days) accommodations in a residential structure. Some hosts receive payment of rent via a website company, while others receive payment directly from the guest. If you select "yes," you will be prompted to answer some additional questions related to this activity.

Review & Submit

After you have added all of your business locations, click “Review Application” to review the application.  If you need to make changes, click the “Edit” button in the section you need to change, make the necessary change, and then continue through the form until you return to the “Review & Submit” page.

On this page, review and confirm the information you entered, and then click “Submit for Electronic Signature” at the bottom of the page.

After you click "Submit for Electronic Signature," you cannot make any additional changes.

After submitting, you will receive an email from DocuSign at the business email address provided on the Business Identification page. Your electronic signature is the final authorization needed to create a new business tax account.

After Submitting Application

Your electronic signature is the final authorization needed to create a new business tax account. You will receive an email from DocuSign at the business email address provided on the Business Identification page.  Once you've completed the DocuSign, you will be emailed a signed PDF version of the application for your records.

NOTE: If you do not sign the DocuSign within 15 days, the application will be deleted, and you will need to complete a new form should you wish to open your business.

If you have questions or need further assistance, you may submit your question electronically.

After Electronically Signing Application

After you sign your application and submit via DocuSign, you will be redirected to a confirmation page listing the next steps for setting up your business, which may include paying the Registration Fee.  In some cases, our office will review new business applications before you are able to pay the Registration Fee.  If this applies to your business, you will be informed of this on the confirmation page.  In addition to the confirmation page, you will also receive an email at the email address you provided on the Business Identification page that will list the next steps, including how to pay.

Approximately 5 to 10 business days after you have paid all the necessary taxes and fees, a Business Certificate and additional information will be mailed to the business mailing address provided on the Business Identification page.

Video Instructions

Need Further Assistance?

Visit our Help Center to submit a question.  Questions submitted before 7:00 pm will receive a response on the SAME DAY. Questions submitted after 7:00 pm will receive a response by the next business day.