Business License

Business License FAQs

Do I need a Business License?

Per the Ontario Municipal Code, no person shall engage in business in the city without first having obtained a license. This applies to both commercial and home-based businesses. Licenses are both address and activity specific. Therefore, a license is required for each location in the city as well as each activity type at the same location. If a business is not located in Ontario but conducting business in the city, an out-of-city business license is also required. 

How do I obtain a license?

In order to file for a business license, an application is required to be filled out and submitted within thirty (30) days of the business start date. (note: if submitted after the first thirty days of business, penalties will apply) Applications are readily available for download on the city’s website or may be obtained at City Hall.

Business License Department
303 East B. Street
Ontario, CA 91764
Phone – 909-395-2022
Fax – 909-395-2089

What is a DBA?

“DBA” stands for “Doing Business As” or better known as a Fictitious Business Name. This is a name that does not include the surname of the owner(s). If you will use a DBA for your business, contact the County of San Bernardino Recorder’s Office to register the name.

San Bernardino County Clerk-Recorder Office
222 W Hospitality Lane
San Bernardino, CA 92415
Do I need a Sellers Permit?

If you sell any tangible goods (retail or wholesale), excluding food grown for consumption, a Seller’s Permit is required from the State Board of Equalization (BOE). This is how you will report sales tax collected to the State of California.  

Board of Equalization – District Office
10760 Fourth St. Suite 200
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Do I need a Federal Tax ID Number (FEIN)?

A federal tax identification number is traditionally used for partnerships, corporations, and limited-liability corporations. Typically, banks will require a FEIN to open a corporate bank account. You may obtain your FEIN from the I.R.S.

Internal Revenue Service – District Office

290 North D Street
San Bernardino, CA 92401

Do Business Licenses need to be displayed?

Yes, every business shall keep the license posted in a readily visible part of said place of business.  Every person having a license and not having a fixed place of business shall carry the license with him or her at all times while conducting business in the city of Ontario.

How do I close my business license account?

In order to close out the business license, you must submit a letter with the reason and date of closure. This letter must be signed by the owner or officer of the company. It may either be mailed, faxed, or emailed to the department.

Location and Business Hours

The Business License Department is located in City Hall at 303 East “B” Street, Ontario. This is one block north of Holt and one block east of Euclid. Hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm and Fridays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.


Renewal FAQ's

What is the Due Date for Renewals before any Late Penalties?

Renewals are due on January 31st either in City Hall or postmarked by the U.S. Post Office. 

What are the Late Penalties?

Payments received February 1st - February 28th are subject to a 20% penalty. Payments received March 1st – March 31st are subject to a 40% penalty. Payments received April 1st – April 30th are subject to a 60% penalty. Payments received May 1st – May 31st are subject to an 80% penalty. Payments received after May 31st are subject to a 100% penalty.

How can I pay my Business License Renewal?

Mail your license information and check using the self-addressed envelope enclosed. For your convenience, the City has a payment drop box located directly outside of City Hall. Please do not send cash in the mail or drop box. You are also welcome to pay your business license in person inside City Hall using cash, check, or a Visa, MasterCard, or Discover credit card.

What should be included in Gross Receipts on Line A of the Renewal Form?

Gross receipts include all sales and receipts for the year BEFORE any expenses are deducted.

What documentation is required to support the gross receipts?

The City requires businesses whose tax amount is based on gross receipts to submit documents supporting the reported gross receipts. Suggested documents containing gross receipts information includes a Federal Tax Return page 1 of any of the five forms: Form 1040, Schedule C, Schedule E, Form 1065 or Form 1120. California Sales Tax Returns for the past four quarters or other company documentation supporting the reported gross receipts. Such documentation may include financial statements (income statement), work papers, and supporting schedules.

What is an alternative to sending in copies of the required supporting gross receipt documentation?

You may bring in the required supporting documentation along with the renewal form to City Hall for inspection by the License Department staff. Copies will not be made while your information is verified.

What if the supporting gross receipts documentation is not included?

A renewal certificate will not be issued until all required information is received and payment is made in full.

What if the prior year’s taxes are not completed yet? What other documentation is acceptable?

Suggested gross receipt documentation includes California Sales Tax Returns for the past four quarters, internal accounting reports, such as income statements, working papers and supporting schedules.

I am an out of city contractor and do not have a current job in your city. Do I still need to pay the license renewal fee?

No. This fee would only be paid if you have a job(s) in the city. If you are continuing a job from the previous year, you would then just pay the $50 base fee and the $4 Sb-1186 fee.

Why do I have to pay Fire and Storm fees?

These fees are regulated and/or mandated by Federal or State agencies, or by the City Municipal Code. 

How long will it take to receive my certificate?

You should receive your certificate within 3 weeks.

If the business changed ownership or location can I just cross off the old information and put my new information on the renewal form?

No, a new application will be required for changes in ownership and/or location. 

Why do I have to pay the $4 SB-1186 State Disability Access Fee?

On September 19, 2012 Governor Brown signed into law SB-1186 which adds a state fee on any application for a 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.

“Under federal and state law, compliance with disability access laws is a serious and significant responsibility that applies to all California building owners and tenants with buildings open to the public. You may obtain information about your legal obligations and how to comply with disability access laws at the following agencies:

The Division of the State Architect

The Department of Rehabilitation

The California Commission on Disability Access

Downloadable Files