Start a Business

Who needs a business license?

All persons who operate a business or perform services within the city limits of the City of Cotati are required to pay the Business License Tax in accordance with Chapter 5.04 of the Cotati Municipal Code. Included are retail outlets, wholesalers, manufacturers, service companies, self-employed professionals, independent contractors and home businesses. The only exceptions are organizations exempted by the Internal Revenue Service and the Franchise Tax Board.

Where do I start?

Before you go to the Finance Department in City Hall for your business license:

  • Determine whether you need a resale number
  • Determine whether you should file a Fictitious Business Name Statement

Who needs a resale number?

Anyone who is actively engaged in conducting a business as a seller of tangible property.

A resale number may be obtained at the State Board of Equalization, 50 D Street, Suite 230, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 576-2100,

Who needs to file a Fictitious Business Name Statement?

Anyone who is using other than his/her full surname in their business name. Fictitious business name filing information is available at the Sonoma County Clerk’s Office, 2300 County Ctr. Dr., Suite B-177, Santa Rosa, CA 95401, (707) 565-3700 (24-hr. information line) or (707) 565-3800,

Where do I get a business license?

In the Finance Department in Cotati City Hall, 201 W. Sierra Avenue, Cotati, CA 94931, (707) 665-3630.

Is a person who solicits door-to-door required to have a business license?

Yes. Any person who solicits for a donation, sells a product or service, or makes an appointment to demonstrate a product at a later time is required to have a business license from the City of Cotati.

Can a business be operated from a residence in Cotati?

A business may be approved in a residential zone with certain restrictions. Those restrictions would apply to factors not recognized as part of reasonable household use, such as signs, excessive noise, light, odors, dust, vibrations, or storage; or the use of flammable substances. To check zoning and conditional use permits, call the Planning Department at (707) 665-3638.

What do I need to know about signs for my business?

Please contact the Planning Department at (707) 665-3638 for information about the legal size and location of signs for your business. All exterior signs and banners need prior approval.

Who needs a State Contractor’s License?

All questions regarding a State Contractor’s License should be addressed to the State Contractor’s License Board, 50 D Street, Suite D, Santa Rosa, CA 95404, (800) 321-2752,

How can I be notified of an emergency at my business after hours?

When you first complete your business license application, a portion of that form contains emergency notification information, which is used by the police department to contact you or your designee in case of an emergency. Please notify the police department if the contact information changes.

Should I get a security system?

Alarms can be an effective deterrent to crime and a benefit to you in protecting your property and personnel. The police department requires all alarm users to obtain a yearly operation permit.

What kind of crime prevention program does the City have to offer me or my employees?

The police department offers a variety of crime prevention programs for your home and business. Among the programs are burglary prevention, shoplifting prevention, internal theft prevention, robbery protocol, acceptance of checks and credit cards, drug and alcohol prevention, gang awareness, and other safety tips.

Additionally, the police offer a commercial security inspection of your business in an attempt to provide you with some meaningful information. Requests for the security inspection should be directed to the on-duty watch commander.

Contact the Cotati Police Department at 203 W. Sierra Ave. Cotati CA 94931, (707) 792-4611.

Important Telephone Numbers

City of Cotati City Manager: 665-3623 Finance: 665-3631 Planning: 665-3638 Police: 792-4611 Water & Sewer Billing: 665-3631 Public Works: 792-4685 City Engineer: 665-3623

Cotati Chamber of Commerce 795-5508

County of Sonoma County Clerk: 565-3800 Health Dept. (Food Sales): 565-6531 Business Property Tax Assessor: 565-7380

Rancho Adobe Fire Protection Dist. Business Office: 795-6011

State of California Alcoholic Beverage Control: 576-2165 Dept. of Motor Vehicles: (800) 777-0133 EDD (Fed. Employer’s ID): 576-2850 State Board of Equalization: 576-2100 State Contractor’s Board: (800) 321-2752

Pacific Gas & Electric Customer Service: (800) 743-5000

SBC California Business Telephone Service: (800) 750-2355

Recology Garbage & Recycling Services: (800) 243-0291