The City of Sunnyvale requires a Business License to transact, engage or carry on any business in the City. The Business License Application may also be obtained at City Hall Annex, located at 650 W. Olive Ave., Sunnyvale. If you plan to operate your business from your home, the One Stop Permit Center located at 456 W. Olive Ave. can assist you with any requirements specified in the "Other Requirements" section below. You may also print out the online version and bring it back or mail it. If mailing the application, please send it to:
City of Sunnyvale
Department of Finance/Business Licensing
650 W. Olive Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
The Business License Certificate will be mailed to you after all appropriate City Departments have reviewed the application. You should not operate the business until all City requirements are met.
The City has a two-year tax cycle. In order to receive your Business License Tax Certificate, the tax for both years MUST be paid. If your business address is in Sunnyvale, an addtional $7.50 Zoning Review fee must be paid. If you have questions about how much you owe or the status of your application, please call (408) 730-7620.
If your business is physically located in Sunnyvale, there may be other requirements. These requirements must be met before your license will be mailed to you.
Depending on the type of business you propose to operate, where it will be located and whether you plan alterations to the building or property, other permits and fees may be required. To assure that you meet all requirements, you should check the following at the One Stop Permit Center:
- Confirm the zoning of the property where you plan to operate the business and whether the use is allowed by right or requires a Use Permit in that zone. For more information, contact the Planning Division at (408) 730-7444
- Determine whether any building, grading, demolition, plumbing, mechanical, electrical, occupancy or Sign Permits/Inspections are required. For more information, contact the Building Division at (408) 730-7444
- Obtain information on home occupations, parking requirements, setback requirements, sign requirements, design/architectural guidelines, land divisions and possible City fees. For more information, contact the Planning Division at (408) 730-7444
- Check with Public Safety Department, Fire Prevention Division, as to whether you meet Fire Prevention Codes. For more information, contact the Fire Prevention Division at (408) 730-7444
Business License Tax Exemptions
Banks and Financial Institutions
California State Revenue and Taxation Code §23182 allows financial corporations to pay a tax to the state in-lieu of all other state, county, and municipal taxes and licenses, except for the following: tax on their property, local utility use tax, sales and use tax, state energy resources surcharge, and state emergency telephone user surcharge, and motor vehicle fees. Banks and financial institutions are exempt from paying the business tax if they pay the State of California an "in lieu" tax. As proof, Banks or Financial Corporations may provide a copy of Form 100 (California Corporation Franchise or Income Tax Return).
Charitable Institutions and Non-profit Organizations
Charitable institutions & non-profit organizations are exempt from paying the business tax. An Internal Revenue Service or State Franchise Tax Board non-profit determination letter, or Secretary of State Certification is required as proof of exemption.
For-Hire Motor Carrier of Property
If a for-hire motor carrier of property pays the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) tax set forth in the State Revenue and Taxation Code §7231 - §7236 and the tax paid is in-lieu of all city and county business taxes, the business is exempt from paying the business tax.
Home Daycare Provider
A home that provides family daycare for eight or fewer children, including children under the age of 10 years shall be exempt from the business tax per California Health and Safety Code 1597.45(b).
Any broker-agent acting as an agent for an insurance provider is exempt from paying the business tax license. These are "agents" appointed by insurance companies to represent the insurance company and to sell their products. To be an "agent" the insurer is required by law to file an appointment document known as a "Notice of Agency Appointment" with the California Insurance Commissioner's Office. The broker-agent must provide a copy of the "Notice of Agency Appointment" as proof of exemption.
Public Utility Franchise
Any public utility possessing a franchise granted by the City of Sunnyvale and is making annual payments to the City under said franchise is exempt from the business tax.
Residential Care Facilities
A residential care facility, which serves six or fewer persons shall not be subject to the business tax per California Health and Safety Code 1566.2.
Veterans who meet the criteria listed below are exempt from paying the business tax.
- The applicant is an honorably discharged; or relieved veteran described in section 16001 or 16001.5 of the California Business and Professions code.
- The person is physically unable to earn a livelihood by manual labor.
- The person is a voter or resident of California.
- The applicant is requesting a license to hawk, peddle or vend any good, wares or merchandise owned by him except for liquor.
Business License Ordinance
Business License Status Change Form
Frequently Asked Questions
2012-2013 Tax Table
2013-2014 Tax Table
2014-2015 Tax Table
2015-2016 Tax Table
2016-2017 Tax Table
2017-2018 Tax Table