Business Licensing Explanation

Paying for Needed Services
All businesses that operate in the City of La Mesa are required to possess a business license. The license is a tax measure that raises revenue for the city's general fund and pays for services such as police, fire, and street maintenance.

Almost every city and county in California has some form of business licensing or business tax certificates. Because it is a local tax, licensing is not transferable between cities or counties.

Tax Issues
Business licensing does not regulate business activities. The Finance Division for the City of La Mesa addresses business licenses, transient occupancy tax, and sales tax issues.

Health, Zoning, Land Use & Other Issues

Land use and zoning matters are handled through the city's Planning Division. Health and hazardous materials concerns are addressed by the city's fire marshal in the Fire Department. The city's code compliance officer handles any complaints that businesses are in violation of City Municipal Codes (not criminal). All other regulatory matters are administered on the county, state, or federal level.

License Types
There are three license types:
  • In-City
    A general In-City Business License is for most businesses based in the City of La Mesa. Your business must operate in an office or commercial setting within the geographic boundaries of the City to qualify. Professionals are required to obtain an individual license beyond the establishment's license.
  • In-City Home Occupation
    A Home Occupation Business License is for businesses based from the home in the City of La Mesa. There are restrictions for this license so please review the application before opening your business. If you operate your business from your home but live in another city you will need an Out-of-City business license.
  • Out-of-City
    An Out-of-City Business License is for businesses based outside of the City of La Mesa that enter La Mesa as part of their work such as contractors and delivery companies. Having a presence, even temporary, in La Mesa and being paid for it is the qualifying factor.

Purchasing an Existing Business

Business licenses are not transferable. The purchase of an existing business requires that the new owner apply for a new business license. The purchasing owner should consult the application section for all fees, requirements, and applications. The selling owner needs to notify the city in writing so that the existing license can be closed.

Moving Your Business to La Mesa

Business licenses are not transferable from other cities or government agencies. Moving your business to La Mesa requires that a new business license be applied for. Please consult the application section for all fees, requirements, and applications. You should also contact the issuing city of your current license regarding your move.