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Starting a New Business

Proper Steps for Licensing, Registering and Permitting

Starting Your Business

When starting a new business there are many questions you must ask yourself and answer before anything gets started:

  • What type of business would you like to open?
  • What types of activities will you be performing?
  • When do you plan to start your business?
  • Where will your business be located?
  • What business structure type will you have?
  • What do you plan to call your business?

There are many online resources available to help you answer any of the above questions.

Licensing

Spokane requires all businesses to be licensed with the city if they are:

  • Located within city limits, or
  • Conducting business within city limits.

If you don't know if you do business within city limits, call the city at 509.625.6070 before applying.

If more than one business is located in a single premise, you must complete a separate registration for each business conducted.

You must file a Business License Application when you first start your business, or when you change or update your business. You'll need to file (or re-file) if you want to:

How to File

Online - The fastest way to file!

Online applications are typically processed within two business days. It may take up to 21 days if you file by mail.

  1. Complete a Business License Application online using an E-check or a MasterCard, Visa, or American Express credit or debit card (gift cards cannot be used).
    • Mobile devices (tablets, smart phones, etc.) are not recommended.

For certain activities, you should file a paper application.

Paper
  1. Complete the Business License Application and any supplemental forms that apply to your business. To find out which supplemental forms you'll need, see the Business Licensing Guide.
  2. Mail your completed application, supplemental forms, and a check or money order payable to “Department of Revenue” for the fees to:

    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034

Fees
City License Fee
Spokane general business license $113
Spokane nonprofit business license* $56.50
Other fees that may apply Fee
Spokane charges fee for employee Various
State tax registration No fee
Registering your business name as a trade name $5
Business License Application fee $19 (non-refundable)

Information about Specialty Licenses is also available online.

Business Registration

Online - the fastest way

Online applications are usually processed within two business days. It may take up to 21 days if you file by mail.

Complete a Business License Application online.

By Mail
  1. Complete the Business License Application and any supplemental forms that apply to your business. To find out which supplemental forms you'll need, see the Business Licensing Guide.
  2. Mail your completed application, supplemental forms, and a check or money order payable to “Department of Revenue” for the fees to:

    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034

Fees

What are the fees associated with business registration?

  • Base Fee: $113 per 12-month period
  • Temporary Registration: $56.50 for first 90 days, $46.50 to renew for additional 90 days if renewed within the first 90 day license period.
  • Branch Fee: $113 for each additional location. Mobile carts or other mobile units from which business is conducted is considered an additional location.
  • Personnel Fee: Any person employed by or at any business within the City and/or persons who perform any part of their duties within the City of Spokane.

    Personnel includes:

    • All officers, agents, dealers, LLC members, etc. of a corporation or business trust.
    • All partners
    • Each part-time and each temporary person must be included in personnel count/fee.
Number of Personnel Fee Per Person*
1 through 5 $10 each
6 through 10 $15 each
11 or more $20 each

*Per Person Fee is based on the total number of personnel working at each location.

Nonprofit: Nonprofit entities which have received certification from the state and/or federal government are entitled to a reduced registration fee. The reduced business registration fee is one-half the basic registration fee plus inspection or other applicable fees or charges. Nonprofit businesses are exempt from personnel fees. Any applicant for a reduced fee registration must present sufficient proof of nonprofit status as granted by the state or federal government.

Business Site Evaluation Fee: Site evaluation fees apply only to businesses located within the City limits with any of the following criteria:

  • new businesses, or,
  • new business owners, or
  • relocated businesses, or
  • additional sites for an existing business, or
  • if customers visit a business located at a residence.

Fees are calculated based on the following information:

  • Residential Location
    • If customers visit the residence a processing fee is required: $25
    • If clients receive care or reside in the home a Safety Evaluation Fee is required: $90
  • Commercial Location
    • Processing fee for evaluation of low-hazard general office: $25
    • Safety evaluation fee (includes processing fee): 490
    • Carts and booths that have ignition sources, flammable liquids or solids need the safety evaluation fee.

Do I qualify for a reduced-fee registration?

Taxpayers whose gross business revenues do not exceed $18,000 per calendar year are “eligible persons” entitled to a reduced business registration fee. You must provide IRS filed documents as proof of gross revenues. For computation of gross revenues, revenue from outside the city is not included. Gross revenues means the revenues to the taxpaying entity and are not computed separately for each individual partner, principle, employee, or other constituent part of the taxpayer. Please call 509.625.6070 if you have further questions.

Do I need a business site evaluation?

What special permits do I need for a restaurant business?

For information on Food Service and On-Site Waste Disposal System Permits, visit the Spokane Regional Health District website.

How do I apply for a temporary registration?

Businesses engaging in business in the City for a period of 90 days or less within a 12-month period, or businesses without any permanent location either within or without the City, may obtain a temporary business registration in lieu of a regular business registration. (SMC 10.40.010)

Temporary registrations are good for 90 days. Please fill out a Temporary Business Registration Application (PDF 37 KB)

a temporary registration is $56.50 for first 90 days.

Renewal

If you find you will be operating your business more than the 90 days, you may renew for an additional 90 day period.

  • If you renew prior to the expiration of the original 90 day registration, your renewal fee is $46.50.

You may want to consider applying for a regular business registration if you expect to be in business for more than 90 days.

A business site evaluation fee may also apply.

State Tax Registration

State tax registration is required if you answer “yes” to any of the questions listed below. A tax registration cannot be transferred to another business.

  • Do you plan to gross over $12,000 per year?
  • Will you be selling at retail any item or product?
  • Will you be repairing, installing, altering, decorating, or improving any item or product for another person (for example, care repair, construction)?
  • Will you engage in a business that is responsible for any other state taxes (for example, timber, fish, litter, public utility, hazardous substance/waste)?

Note: When you register you will receive a state business license and UBI (Unified Business Identifier) number. A business license must be posted at each location where the licensee operates.

How to get tax registration

Online

  • File a Business License Application online and pay with E-check or a MasterCard, Visa, American Express credit or debit card (gift cards cannot be used).
  • Filing online isn't recommended for some businesses. See the list of businesses that shouldn't file a Business License Application online for details.

By Mail

  1. Complete the Business License Application.
  2. Mail your completed application with a check or money order payable to “Department of Revenue” for the fees to:

    State of Washington
    Business Licensing Service
    PO Box 9034
    Olympia, WA 98507-9034

In Person

  1. Complete the Business License Application.
  2. Bring your completed application and fees to any business licensing office.

Fees

Transaction Fee
State tax registration No Fee
Registering your business name as a trade name $5
Business License Application Fee $19 (non-refundable)

Contact Information

State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034

Phone: 1.800.451.7985
Email: BLS@dor.wa.gov
Fax: 360.705.6699

Office Hours

Monday through Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mailing Information

Please remember to enclose all necessary documents and fees with your completed application. Incomplete submissions will result in a delay in you licensure. It is important that you contact our office, in writing, with any changes in address.

Permitting

Change of Use Permit

A Change of Use or Occupancy Permit will be required if a business will be moving into a place that was previously used for a different type of business or if it was previously a residence; and if a business wishes to expand the occupant load from that which is identified on the current Certificate of Occupancy. ALSO, a change of use may be required if the space that will be occupied has been vacant or has never been occupied. More information on changes of use. Please prepare for the review process to take a month or longer

Commercial Building Permit

Commercial Building Permits are required for all new buildings, all parking lot or site improvements, all additions to existing building, and for most renovations or modifications done to existing building or spaces within existing buildings. Remodel work requiring a Commercial Building Permit includes, but is not limited to, any drywall, façade improvements, window or door replacements, ADA Accessibility upgrades, swale work, canopies, etc. Some small tenant improvements can be scheduled for an over-the-counter (same day) review. Most other remodels can be reviewed within three to four weeks. For new buildings and additions, prepare for at least six to eight weeks of plan review process.

Electrical Permit

Electrical Permits are required for service upgrades, new wiring, security systems, and any modifications to existing wiring to include adding or moving any outlets or light fixtures. These permits are generally issued the same day as they are applied for provided a commercial building permit has been approved.

Mechanical Permits

Mechanical Permits are required for installations or modifications to any heating, ventilation, air-conditioning equipment, and/or gas piping and for some cooking equipment. Hoods are required for most cooking equipment and vent fans are required in all bathrooms. These permits are generally issued the same day as they are applied for provided a commercial building permit has been approved.

Plumbing Permit

Plumbing Permits are required for installing, re-installing, moving, or replacing any plumbing fixture to include sinks, toilets, dishwashers, floor drains, irrigation systems, etc. These permits are generally issued the same day they are applied for provided a commercial building permit has been approved.

Fence Permit

Fence Permits are reviewed by Planning Services and Fire Protection Services prior to issuance. These permits are generally issued the same day or within two days if the Fore Protection Engineer is out of the office.

Sign Permit

Any installation or modification of an exterior sign requires a Sign Permit. Please plan for the approval process to take at least a week.

Please Contact the Following Departments for Permits They May Require:

Engineering Services - Obstruction, sewer, water, sidewalk cafes, and right-of-way permit concerns. 509.625.6300

Fire Protection Services - Any fire alarms or fire sprinkler systems, etc. 509.625.7000.

Parks Department - Street Tree Permits. 509.625.6205.

Planning Services - Examples of instances that may require permits are boundary line adjustments, zoning changes, conditional use, etc. 509.625.6300.

Spokane Regional Health District - Food worker permits, plan review and inspections for places where food or beverages will be served or prepared. 509.625.6070.

Taxes and Licensing - City of Spokane Business License. 509.625.6070.