Ask FSB 's experts walk an entrepreneur through the process of getting a local business license.
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: Do I need a business license for an apparel and accessories, embroidery, screen-printing and promotional product services business? If yes, where do I apply for one in my city? What documents will be needed?
- Lucinda Cortes, Harbor City, Calif.
Dear Lucinda: You will need a business license, but whether you apply to the City of Los Angeles or to the County depends on whether the business will be in an incorporated or unincorporated part of Harbor City, Calif. according to the Harbor City/Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce.
"Everybody needs a business license if they're doing business in the City of Los Angeles," said Joeann Valle, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce.
According to the Office of the City Clerk's finance department in Los Angeles, you can determine if a business is located in the city based on whether or not the address receives services from the Los Angeles Police Department and city water and power.
Regardless of whether the business is in the city or county, in order to apply for a license, you first have to give your business a name, unless you're operating under your own name.
That is, if you're opening a shop that you want to call "Lucinda's Fashions," for example, you'll need to register a Fictitious Business Name, sometimes called a DBA, for "doing business
To do that you need to complete a Fictitious Business Name Statement, available at the county clerk's office and website, and file it within 40 days of beginning to transact business.
Within 30 days, you have to run the Fictitious Business Name Statement in your local newspaper in order to establish your business's name. You should be able to call the paper to find out the procedure they use, Valle said.
After that, you have 30 days to file an affidavit proving the ad was run once a week for four consecutive weeks.
If the address of your business is in the city, you will then need to apply for the license at City Hall.
"She would go down to business license department and fill out application, and she's on her way," Valle said. "They will walk her through all the paperwork and all of the process."
Applications can also be found on the city's website at http://www.lacity.org/finance.
If the address is in the County of Los Angeles, information can be found at the county's web site: http://ttc.lacounty.gov/. and license applications can be picked up in person at the county's Business License Offices. Depending on the nature of the business, the county can require references, photographs, fingerprints, documentation, special forms and/or proof of insurance with a license application.
If you've applied for a business license, what was the process like? Talk back here.
More information on obtaining a business license:
Category: Personal Finance