Start, Expand & Finance Your Business

Helping businesses in San Diego grow and flourish is a major focus of the City of San Diego. The City is dedicated to helping foster the region's economy to improve the quality of life for its citizens and business community. Through many continuing programs and projects, the City creates opportunities for businesses to succeed.

Online Business Portal

Take the first step to start or grow your business in San Diego.

Find or search for a location here: OpenCounter Business Portal

Check your zoning: Zoning Portal

PDF icon 10 Key Steps to Starting a Business

(For Businesses within the City of San Diego limits)

There are several key steps to starting a business in the City of San Diego. The steps may vary according to the type of business you intend to start, but the following guide for the 10 Key Steps to Starting a Business will give you a general idea.

Note: Many of the following steps can be researched and accomplished by first visiting the respective websites listed rather than calling or visiting agency offices.

  1. Get Basic Information with help from the City of San Diego Public Library.
  2. Select a site and determine zoning by visiting the Zoning Portal and site permit requirements with help from the OpenCounter Business Portal. If you plan to operate out of your home, obtain information about requirements for Home Occupations. For new construction or questions about the development process, please contact the Development Services Department.
  3. Determine a Business Name and register at County of San Diego, Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s Office.
  4. Create a Business Plan with help from the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) South San DiegoNorth San Diego and U.S. Small Business Administration .
  5. Determine the Business Activity Type from the list provided by the Office of the City Treasurer's PDF icon Business Tax Certification application.
  6. Determine the Legal Structure of the business.
  7. Obtain any special licenses and permits.
  8. Get tax information from the California Tax Information Center, and the Internal Revenue Service.
  9. Learn about Employer Responsibilities at the City level (Earned Sick Leave and Mininum Wage Ordinance) from the Office of the City Treasurer. Learn about Employer Responsibilities at the State and Federal levels from the Employment Development Department and Internal Revenue Service
  10. Apply for a Business Tax Certificate (Business License) from the Office of the City Treasurer, Business Tax Division.

For those business start-ups that do not have access to the Internet, the City's Central Library and all branch libraries provide access to the Internet during hours the library is open.

Download a complete version of the PDF icon 10 Key Steps to Starting a Business including contact information and additional resources. PDF icon 10 Pasos Clave para Iniciar su Negocio

For questions or concerns, call (619) 236-6700 or email [email protected]