Starting a Business

If you're starting a business in Alameda, welcome to our economic community! This section provides information to help you get started. Please check out our Starting Your Business Checklist for step-by-step instructions on how to start a business. Business Guides are also available in Spanish and Chinese.


Building Permits

If you plan to remodel, post or put-up signs, or change anything in the building, you may need a permit. For the most current information, please contact the Permit Center at (510) 747-6800.


Business Improvement Area Charges

The City of Alameda has two business improvement areas.
Businesses located in and around Park Street or Webster Street should contact the appropriate office to learn about BIA fees and requirements, including the Webster Street Design Guidelines.


Business Licenses

If you are conducting business in Alameda, you will need a business license and a zoning clearance form. If you are working out of your home, you will also need a home occupation permit.

Chamber of Commerce

New businesses may gain valuable contacts and resources through the Alameda Chamber of Commerce.


Employer Identification Number

If you plan to hire employees, there are several requirements.

1. You must obtain an employer identification number from both the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD). The nearest IRS office is located at 1301 Clay St., South Tower, Ste. 160, Oakland, CA; (800) 829-1040. The nearest EDD office is located at 7700 Edgewater Dr., Oakland, CA 94621; (510) 577-2369.

2. You may be required to carry worker's compensation insurance coverage. For information, contact the California Department of Industrial Relations; (800) 736-7401.

3. To determine requirements for safety and health standards in your place of business, contact the California Department of Industrial Relations; (800) 736-7401.


Health Services

If your business involves preparing or serving food, you will need to obtain a permit from the Alameda County Environmental Health Services. The Enviromental Health Services Office is located at 1131 Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA 94602; 510-567-6700.


Fictitious Business Name

Businesses with business names that do not include the full names of the owner or corporate name of the corporation must file a petition of fictitious name with the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office. The County Clerk's Office is located at 1106 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94607 (between 11th & 12th Street); 510-272-6363.


Importing and Exporting

In addition to the City business license, a special license is required for exportation. Information is available from the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security.


Sign Ordinance

The Sign Ordinance is available here for your reference.

Seller's Permit/Resale Numbers

Retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers must obtain seller's permits from the California State Board of Equalization. The nearest location is at 1515 Clay Street, Suite 303, Oakland, CA 94612; (510) 622-4100. For questions regarding sales and use taxes, call (800) 400-7115. The board also issues resale permits which enable business owners to purchase supplies or merchandise used for resale.


Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration in San Francisco holds workshops for small business owners.


Zoning Requirements

For zoning ordinance information, please contact the Planning Division.