Starting A Business

Who needs a Business License?

Any individual, corporation, sole proprietor, partnership, home-based business, or other entity that has a business within the City of Oceanside must secure a business license. City law states that no person shall engage in business or transact and carry on a business, trade, profession, calling, or occupation in the City without having procured a license from the City.

What should I do before I apply?

Contact the Business License Department to discuss the details of your particular business operation. Inquire about city zoning requirements for your type of business and its planned location. This information can be obtained from the Planning Department. In addition to obtaining the business license, you must also comply with all City, County, and State regulations for zoning, building, health, and safety. You can obtain an application at the Business License Department or visit

The Business License process takes approximately 15 working days; however, the process could take longer if a "change of occupancy permit" or a "co-permit" is required.

Business License Application and Information

If you are seeking locations for your business, you must ensure that the property is properly zoned for your particular use. You may obtain zoning information at the City's Planning Department, or call (760) 435-4373.

  • For Business License questions, please call (760) 435-3878, or email
  • The North San Diego County Small Business Development Center offers a variety of virtual and in-person classes and counseling services on a variety of business topics including business plans, small business financing, government contracting and more. Visit for more information.
  • For information on available business sites, contact Patricia Mosher at (760) 435-3357 or email
  • For assistance with business expansions or new businesses coming into the City (outside of business licensing) - contact Michelle Geller at (760) 435-3351 or email

Most businesses can open with relative ease. However, in some cases the prospective business activity and/or building modifications will require the issuance of Planning and/or Building Permits, which will require additional time and fees. This is why you are urged to contact the City to find out what approvals are required for the prospective business before leasing a building.  Calls to several City offices are an essential part in due diligence research. 

Contact information for City departments you may wish to contact: 

Business License

Planning Department

(760) 435-3878

(760) 435-4373

Economic Development

Building Department

(760) 435-3352

General Permitting Information:  (760) 435-3932

Building Inspections: (760) 435-3925

Fire Department

Engineering Department

Inspections/Plan Checks/Fire Prevention: 
(760) 435-4101
Administration: (760) 435-4100

(760) 435-5097  

Police Department

City Clerk

Non-Emergency calls: (760) 435-4900

(760) 435-3065
California Municodes – Code of Ordinances

Where can I get permits and information from other county, state, and federal agencies?


  • If you are using a fictitious business name, contact the San Diego County Clerk’s Office and your local newspaper with regard to publication of notice, etc. You may wish to contact the clerk by telephone first at (760) 940-6858, or visit their website a .  Fictitious Business Name or DBA (Doing Business As) are one and the same.
  • Your business activity may require a Seller’s Permit (Retail Sales Tax Number) from the State Board of Equalization.  To obtain such a permit, you must apply in person at one of the local district offices.  You may wish to contact them by telephone first to determine if your business requires a permit.  You may reach them at (800) 400-7115 or visit their website at
  • Contact the Internal Revenue Service for a Federal Employer Identification Number.  The IRS provides Small Business Tax Workshops for new businesses.  Additional information and forms are available on their website at The IRS can be reached at (800) 829-1040 or Local San Diego office at (619) 615-9555.
  • Contact the State Employment Development Department to obtain a State Employer Identification Number if you have employees and withhold State Income Tax, Disability, and Unemployment Insurance. You may reach the San Diego Office at (858) 880-2500 or (888) 745-3886 or visit their website at
  • Concerning your insurance requirements, such as liability and workers’ compensation, contact your insurance agent for information about your particular kind of business.
  • Contact the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board at (760) 471-4237 or if you plan to sell or serve alcoholic beverages. You will also need to contact the Planning Department at (760) 435-4373 to obtain zoning approval for sale of liquor.
  • Contact the Franchise Tax Board if you intend to have employees or to obtain a Form 540 for estimating State Withholding Tax for yourself.  You can reach them at (800) 852-5711 or visit their website at
  • If your establishment intends to prepare and/or sell food of any type, you must complete a Health Permit Application at the County of San Diego. You may contact the County of San Diego, Department of Environmental Health at (760) 471-0730 if you have any questions regarding a Health Permit.

Helpful resources and links to help you get start on your new business:

  • Start with a business plan.  A business plan is a written document that clearly defines the goals of a business and outlines the methods for achieving them. A complete business plan should describe the money, management, and marketing strategies to be used in the business. It explains how the business will function and depicts its operational characteristics. To learn more about writing a business plan, see the Business Start-up Guide below.

Business Start-up Guide Business Resource Guide


Small Business Development Center

County of San Diego
Small Business Administration

Oceanside Library

MiraCosta College

Oceanside Chamber of Commerce