Business License Tax

Apply for a Business License online at or fill out a Business License Tax Certificate Application (PDF) and SB 205 Stormwater Discharge Compliance Form (PDF) and return it to the Finance Department with proper payment. Anyone conducting business within the Arcata city limits is required to have a City of Arcata Business License.

Special Business License Tax Permits

For specific annual events and fairs, please contact your event organizer. If you are planning to participate in multiple events, it may be more cost-effective for you to complete the standard Business License Tax Certificate Application (above). If you have any questions, please call the Finance Department at 822-5951.


An employee is defined as any person including owner, partner, manager, agent, etc., employed or working in said business. For part-time employees, use full-time equivalents. For example, 2 half-time employees equals 1 full-time employee.

Business License Tax Due

All tax is due by July 1 each year. A penalty of 10% per month will be added if not paid by July 31, not to exceed 50% of the total annual tax

New Businesses

New business license fees are prorated on a quarterly basis. For example, a new business starting in January would pay $20 base license fee. There is a $30 fee for review and approval of each new application ($15 fee for renewals).

Nonprofit Organizations

Nonprofit organizations are exempt from the Business License Tax. Please
provide the city with the nonprofit identification number, complete, sign and return this form.

Senate Bill 1186

Under federal and state law, compliance with disability access laws is a serious and significant responsibility that applies to all California building owners and tenants with buildings open to the public. You may obtain information about your legal obligations and how to comply with disability access laws at the following agencies:

Assembly Bill 3002

Effective January 1, 2019, last year’s AB 3002 requires local jurisdictions issuing building permits for commercial construction, or business licenses, to make available a notice containing specified information regarding disability access. A model notice was developed by the Division of the State Architect (DSA) and is available online.

Senate Bill 205

Effective January 1, 2020, SB 205 requires a person or entity who conducts a business operation that is a "regulated industry" to demonstrate enrollment with the NPDES permit program. By providing specified information on an initial or renewal City business license application, enrollment in the NPDES permit can be confirmed.
The following form must be completed and submitted with all business license applications.