Business Registration

1. Overview

June 8, 2021 Update: As approved on May 17, 2021 by City Council, the Business Registry Fee (CMR 12167) has been waived for any business who registers by the due date of July 15, 2021. Late fees will be assessed for any registrations received after August 15, 2021. In addition, the  Downtown Business Improvement District Fee (CMR 12255) will be waived for the 2021-22 filing year.

2. COVID-19 Response

In light of COVID-19, the Business Registry fee and Downtown Business Improvement District assessments due for 2020 and 2021 has been waived. You can view more information on this item from the May 4 Council meeting. Refunds will be given to businesses that have already paid with no action needed by businesses. Business registration is still due by the extended deadline of July 15 and the $4 CASP fee is still due from non-exempt businesses.

Please Note: The online registration website does not reflect these fee changes at this time. If you have not yet registered, please do so by downloading the application form, and follow the application submittal and payment directions on page 6 of the form.


Thank you for visiting our Business Registry Certificate website. We appreciate your role in making Palo Alto a vibrant community through your business. 

Per the Palo Alto Municipal Code (Chapter 4.60)all businesses located in fixed places of business (i.e., commercial buildings, retail storefronts, etc.) within the City of Palo Alto are required to register with the City by March 31 of each year.  Every year, a business is required to obtain/renew a Business Registry Certificate (BRC) by completing an official form and paying a flat fee.  The City of Palo Alto partners with Avenu Insights & Analytics (formerly MuniServices, LLC) for the administration of the Business Registry program and for assistance with billing and payment collection.

3. Registration/Renewal

The City of Palo Alto partners with Avenu Insights & Analytics (formerly MuniServices, LLC) for the administration of the Business Registry Certificate program and Downtown Palo Alto Business Improvement District (BID) assessments. Beginning with the 2020 filing period, businesses that owe the BID should now pay the BID assessment fee along with their Business Registry annual fee.

Annual Business Registry

Amount due is $54.00. Business Registry payments received after the filing deadline will accrue penalties.

Is Your Business Located in the Downtown Business District (BID)?

Amount due is based on business location, business category and number of full-time employees (FTE). If your business is located within the BID, you must also pay the BID assessment fee. BID payments after the filing deadline will accrue penalties.

 

New Businesses in Palo Alto

  1. Visit Biz License Online
  2. Click on Sign Up
  3. Select type of account you are filing for: Business Account or Practitioner Account
  4. Enter User Information and Login Information. Store your username and password in a secure place. Click "Save and Continue."
  5. Select your secret question and response. Click "Save and Continue."
  6. Click on Existing account and enter your account number and business name as it appears in your letter. If you do not have this information please contact muniblsupport@avenuinsights.com.
  7. Click the "File Application/Return" quick link.
  8. Follow the step-by-step filing instructions to report your Business Registry and BID information.
  9. Online Payment Options: ACH Debit (checking/savings) or Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover).

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*) and/or will prompt a response if left blank. Additional optional fields may be displayed but are not required.

Existing Businesses in Palo Alto (Renewals)

  1. Visit Biz License Online
  2. Returning Users - Enter your username and the password that you created upon filing last year's Business Registry online application. Click Log in. If you have misplaced your password, click the FORGOT PASSWORD link.
  3. From your Home page, click the "File Application/Return" quick link. Follow the step-by-step filing instructions to report your Business Registry and BID information.
  4. Online Payment Options: ACH Debit (checking/savings) or Credit Card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover).

Required fields are marked with an asterisk (*) and/or will prompt a response if left blank. Additional optional fields may be displayed but are not required.

To file/pay via postal mail

  1. Download and complete the Business Registry Application.
  2. Be sure to reference your Avenu account # on the application and complete each section. Initial sworn statements, sign and return the completed form(s) with your payment.
  3. For check payments: Make check payable to “Tax Trust Account” and remit along with your form to Avenu at 555 Bryant Street #821, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Do not send application forms/payments to the City of Palo Alto; send to Avenu at 555 Bryant Street #821, Palo Alto, CA 94301.

Cost: $54* which includes a $4 State of California pass through fee for ADA compliance. Avenu will receive application forms and payments through the internet or postal mail. 2021 Business Registry renewal forms and payments will be charged penalties on or after August 15, 2021. There will be no fees or late fees for the BID.

Both the Business Registry and BID fees can be filed/paid online at https://PaloAlto.bizlicenseonline.com.

If your business has closed, was sold, is no longer operating, or moved to another location in the Palo Alto city limits, contact Avenu toll free at (866) 240-3665 or email at muniblsupport@avenuinsights.com.

Business Registry Exemptions

If you are either:

  1. A business or non-profit organization with less than 1 Full-Time-Equivalent employee, including owner/principal.
  2. A religious organization with no ancillary business on-site.
  3. home-based or transitory (or virtual) business, you are exempt from obtaining a Business Registry Certificate.  Exempt businesses must file an application form on an annual basis; however, no fee will be applied.  To claim an exemption, file an application form and select your exemption status.

A general contractor or sub-contractor, who performs work from time to time in Palo Alto and does not have a fixed place of business (e.g., office) in the City, is exempt from obtaining a Business Registry Certificate and is not required to submit an application form – no action required.

Required Business Registry Information

  • Business Name, Description, Structure, State of Incorporation, and Inception Date
  • Owner/Principal Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address
  • Business Address(es) – primary location and any other locations in Palo Alto
  • Number of employees (full-time, part-time, contract, and volunteers – including Owner/Principal) at each location during peak times on a normal business day)
  • Number of on-site parking spaces dedicated to your business at each location
  • Number of annual parking permits purchased for employees at each location
  • Square footage your business occupies in each location
    Note: This is the gross area in square feet your business occupies. You can find this information in your lease agreement or building floor plans. For assistance, contact your property management team.
  • Federal EIN and/or Sellers permit number

 

*This fee includes a $4 state mandated fee on any application for local business license or similar instrument or permit or renewal thereof. The purpose is to increase disability access and compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements and to develop educational resources for businesses in order to facilitate compliance with federal and state disability laws, as specified. 

Ordinance #5379 – Ordinance regarding the Business Registration Program
Staff Report ID #6470 – Most recent Business Registry- related staff report with links to previous reports.