Business License General Information

Online Business License Application
Marijuana Dispensaries and marijuana-related businesses

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Sacramento County issues business licenses to regulate businesses operating in the unincorporated area of the County (the areas of the County not within city limits) to promote improved enforcement of ordinances that protect the public and prevent nuisances and neighborhood disturbances. The license is not a business tax and is not based on business revenue.

There are several types of business license:

General Business Licenses are issued to businesses based in the after a review of the business activities at the specific location (street address) and the land use zoning of the property. All businesses based in the unincorporated area require a General Business License except for the following, which are EXEMPT:

  • Financial Institutions - banks, savings and loans, and credit unions as defined by the Business and Professions Code, except that check-cashing businesses do require a General Business License.
  • Residential Facilities - apartments, rooming houses, duplexes and other facilities for long-term stays (over 30 days), residential care homes for adults or children and family day care.
  • Churches - to the extent the facilities are used for religious purposes or restricted to members of the congregation.  A General Business License is required for a church-run or church-located school, child care facility, thrift store, etc.
  • Libraries - public and private.
  • Agriculture - includes growing of crops or raising livestock, except that a General Business License is required for any enterprise that combines product from multiple farms, wholesale, etc.

Special Business Licenses are required for individuals performing certain types of business activities within the unincorporated area of Sacramento even if the business is based within a City or outside the County.  The Sheriff's Department issues Special Business Licenses after a background review of the owners.  In addition to Special Business Licenses, employees who engage in certain activities will require an Employee Permit.

Tobacco Retailer Licenses are required for businesses in the unincorporated area that sell any tobacco products and/or tobacco paraphernalia.  This license is required in addition to other County business licenses, and is in addition to the State of California tobacco retailer registration.


The purpose of the program is to encourage responsible tobacco retailing and to discourage violations of tobacco-related laws, especially those that prohibit or discourage the sale or distribution of tobacco products to minors.
Some businesses will require either a General Business License or Special Business License; other will require both. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of this website and, if you have additional questions, contact the Business License Unit at (916) 874-6644 to determine individual license requirements.
Operating a business without the required Sacramento County Business License(s) is a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500.00 and six (6) months in jail.