Licenses and Permits

Do I need a License or Permit in Palo Alto?

Maybe. Beginning in March 2015, all businesses located in fixed places of business within the City are required to file an annual business registration and receive a certificate. For new businesses occupying a commercial property, a one-time certificate of use and occupancy is likely also required.

Modifications to buildings may require permits from one or more departments. Our Development Center is a one-stop-shop for any of these needs.

Businesses located within the Downtown are likely subject to the Business Improvement District assessment.  More information on the BID can be found on our BID page.

What licenses or permits are required to do business in Palo Alto?
Some businesses not subject to business registry or certificate of use and occupancy are required to obtain special permits or licenses.

Are Home Businesses Allowed?
The City Code does allow for certain types of small businesses to be operated from one’s home, as long as the employees working from the home reside there. Generally, this does not allow for any type of business that relies on customer visits, heavy equipment, signage, significant emissions, or occupies more than 25% of the dwelling (or 500 square feet, whichever is lesser). For our specific guidelines, please visit the Municipal Code.