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San Rafael Resources for Businesses

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Resources for New Businesses: San Rafael, California

Starting a business or moving an already established one to San Rafael? Then there are some things you need to know about operating in California. For example, when choosing where to place your business, consider California’s water entitlements, which restrict the maximum amount of water each establishment is allowed and can vary per commercial meter. Investing in a location whose resources do not meet your needs could be disastrous, especially in the food industry. To find out how to do business in San Rafael here is an informational resource for getting started and planning strategically against oversights that will cost you time and money.

Location, location, location

Alongside the water restrictions are mandatory fire protection requirements. Every new business in San Rafael must be inspected by the Fire Prevention Bureau upon move in, and then once a year from then on. But even before that, hopeful entrepreneurs need to research local zoning requirements that define which types of businesses are allowed where. Zoning requirements also establish off-street parking requirements and use permits, for entertaining, alcohol, and heavy parking use. Unlike business licenses, use permits are tied to the location and can be transferred through various owners, so long as the function of the location remains the same.

Once a place has been chosen and zoning requirements have been cleared, the building itself must meet building code requirements. Renovations, improvements, and remodeling need to come with a building permit, adjustments according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and for food service industries, possibly an outdoor grease interceptor tank. For restaurants and food shops, your place of business must also pass a health inspection meeting the State of California health code. Finally, a sign permit is also required for all signs and banners, whether they are fixed, temporary, new, or altered.

Business License and Registration

So, you’ve got your place of business set up, but now you need to register it with the city and get your business license. The first step is to download and fill out an application, which can be found here. They are divided into four types based on location and type of business. The application will require information such as your seller’s permit number, driver’s license number, state and/or federal tax ID number, state contractor’s license number, a Marin County Environmental Health Permit, and proof of registration with the California Secretary of State, among other things. Second, the business license tax must be filled out and paid. Finally, the application and business license tax, along with all supplemental materials, should be turned into the Business License Division, where it may take several weeks before a certificate is printed out and sent to the business owner. Once received, it should be displayed or else carried at the place of business at all times.

More Paperwork and Other Information

From this point on, different businesses will have different needs. Vendors selling alcohol should contact the State of California Alcoholic Beverages Control Agency to find what special permits accompany the distribution and serving of alcohol. Large daycares, defined as having up to 14 children, need a permit from the San Rafael Community Development Department, and licensing from the CA Department of Social Services. For more information about applying for a license, read the San Rafael Business License Information Guide.

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