Business Licenses

Businesses operating within Sonoma city limits must annually file a business license as mandated by Sonoma Municipal Code 5.04. This requirement applies to individuals, partnerships, corporations, sole proprietors, subcontractors, independent contractors, non-profits, and home-based businesses. The issuance of a business license does not grant authorization to operate unless the business adheres to all federal, state, and local regulations.

The business license period for the City of Sonoma runs from January 1 to December 31 each year. All annual license fees are due on the first day of February. New businesses must pay the license tax before commencing operations. The City's Municipal Code establishes the business license tax as a flat rate, not based on gross receipts, with additional charges for most businesses calculated based on the number of employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

To sell alcoholic beverages, you need a liquor license. You can find information about buying a liquor license from the California Department of Alcohol & Beverage Control (ABC). The nearest local ABC office is in Santa Rosa. You can call them at (707) 576-2165. Your business may also need special review and approvals from the City of Sonoma. Contact the Planning Department and we’ll let you know.
You can also get temporary licenses for events.  More information can be found on our Special Events pages. Please complete the form and email it to  You are required to collect the signatures from the property owner and the Police Department.

A business license is a permit issued by a government agency that grants you the right to operate a business within their geographical jurisdiction.

Applications can be picked up in person at City Hall (No. 1, The Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476) or downloaded from the City’s website. You also have the option of fully applying online. Once you’ve submitted an application online, you will receive an email with instructions on how to complete payment.

Anyone who plans on conducting business within the City of Sonoma is required to apply prior to starting a business.

The business license fee is based on the type of business. Please refer to the full business license fee schedule for a full list of fees. Business Licenses are valid from January 1 through December 31 of each year. Businesses that start operating after July 1 are prorated. To avoid penalties, license fees must be paid by February 1 of each year.

Once a complete application/renewal is received and payment has been processed, the hard copy business license will be mailed to you in about 2 weeks.

Business Licenses are valid from January 1 through December 31 of each year. Businesses that start operating after July 1 are prorated.

Yes. All businesses are required to pay the annual state-mandated fee. On September 12, 2012, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 1186 (SB 1186) into law. SB 1186 is intended to increase disability access, encourage compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements, develop education resources for businesses, and facilitate compliance with Federal and State disability laws.

From January 1, 2013, until December 31, 2017, cities and counties were required to collect a State mandated fee of $1.00 from “any applicant for a local business license or equivalent instrument or permit, and from any applicant for the renewal of a business license or equivalent instrument or permit.”

Assembly Bill 1379 was passed on October 11, 2017, which extends the assessment of the fee indefinitely and also the State-mandated fee from $1.00 to $4.00 from January 1, 2018, until December 31, 2023. The fee will go towards increasing disability access and compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements and developing educational resources for businesses to facilitate compliance with federal and state disability laws, as specified.

Business Licenses must be renewed annually. The City mails courtesy renewal notices in December for the following calendar year. It is the business’s responsibility to ensure their license is renewed on an annual basis prior to the due date.

To avoid penalties, license fees must be paid by February 1 of each year. If payment is received after the delinquent date with a late or missing postmark – the payment will be considered late, penalties will be added and a balance due email will be sent to you.

The annual business license tax shall be based on the average number of persons employed during the previous calendar year (SMC 5.08). In this scenario, five employees would be used to calculate the business license tax.

For each motor vehicle used for the delivery of goods, wares merchandise, or tangible property within the City of Sonoma from a supply or stock outside of the City, the business license tax shall be calculated according to the following:

  1. Delivery for redistribution or resale: $44.00 for each vehicle
  2. Delivery of construction materials to job sites: $60.00 for each vehicle
  3. Delivery of goods to homes: $67.00 for each vehicle

No, businesses are not required to pay both business taxes. If services are provided, then the business tax would only be calculated based on the services, not delivery.

For example: a business delivers furniture to a new restaurant, assembles, and installs the furniture. The business license tax would be calculated based on category “A” / “B”, which is determined using the average number of persons employed during the previous calendar year.

If the City does not have evidence of notification from you and records indicate your license was not inactivated,  then you must pay for last year’s business license, including penalties before you can obtain a license for the new year.

Yes, you do need a City of Sonoma Business License. Even though you are not serving local customers, your business is operating within the City of Sonoma.

There is no specific category for home businesses, so you would select the classification/category that is applicable to the services you provide.

If you are doing any kind of business out of your home, you must obtain a home occupation permit from the City of Sonoma Planning Department. Apply Online.

This would be done through the County of Sonoma. Additional information and forms can be found on the County of Sonoma website.

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