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New Businesses

Apply for City of Tacoma Business License Online



Business License Structures

You may operate your business under any one of several business structures. Each type of business structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered. You should contact an attorney, accountant, financial advisor, or other business or legal advisor to determine which structure is most suitable for your business.


State and Federal Licensing Information

Nearly all businesses that operate in the State of Washington will need to be licensed at both the state and local levels; in addition, a specialty or professional license may be needed.  The Washington State business license is not a "blanket" license that eliminates the need for a local license. 


Below is a list of agencies for you to contact to learn about licensing requirements before starting your business.   You can also use the Washington State Small Business Resource for detailed information.


Washington Secretary of State

Washington Department of Revenue      

Washington State Department of Licensing (Specialty or Processional Licenses)

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Internal Revenue Service

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department


Out of City Businesses

Businesses that engage in activity in the City of Tacoma but are located outside of Tacoma are required to be licensed and remit business & occupation tax on the activity conducted in the City. 


Voluntary Disclosure Program

The Voluntary Disclosure Program encourages unregistered businesses to comply with City license and tax laws.  If a business is accepted into the Voluntary Disclosure Program the "look back" period is generally limited to four years plus the current year and late filing penalties will be waived.  


Zoning & Permits

The City of Tacoma's zoning, permit, or inspection information is just a click away when you use the City of Tacoma's Zoning Map.  Are you unsure if your business address is inside the city limits or your current zoning allows you to have an auto body shop?  Do you want to see if you are located in a historical area?  This information and more is available at the City's Zoning map today.


Business Resources

Information about starting or growing your business in Tacoma can be found at Make It Tacoma.  If you are starting or already have a small business and need information on taxes, help is available in the form of media products and services from the IRS.  For more information visit IRS Small Business and Self-Employed One-Stop Resource.