Business Registry

Per the Palo Alto Municipal Code (Chapter 4.60), all businesses within the City of Palo Alto located in fixed places of business (i.e., commercial buildings, retail storefronts, etc.) are required to register with the City by March 31 of each year. After April 15th, a late fee of $25 will be applied.

To make the process as simple as possible, the City has developed an easy-to-use online registration tool (click link below). Businesses can register by filling out an online questionnaire and paying a flat fee of $51* with a major credit card.


For exemptions approved by the City Council, you may review the Palo Alto Municipal Code (Chapter 4.60) or the FAQ document. In January 2016, the City Council amended the ordinance to exempt very small businesses and non-profit organizations with less than 1 Full-Time-Equivalent employee, including owner/principal, as well as religious organizations with no ancillary business on-site. Home-based and Transitory (or virtual) businesses continue to be exempt. Exemptions must be claimed each year to ensure the City has up-to-date information.

Note: General contractors and sub-contractors who perform work from time to time in Palo Alto and do not have fixed places of business (e.g., office) in the City are automatically exempt. No action on your part is required.

To claim your exemption, use the online registration tool (click link below) to select your exemption status and provide basic information such as business name, address, telephone number, and email address.

Where to Find More Information

For more information about the BRC program and tool, click the links below. You can also send an email to the Business Registry Team at


IMPORTANT:  The 2017 registration cycle ends on October 31.  At that time, the registration web site will be placed in maintenance mode until next year.  Please register (or claim an exemption) before October 31 to ensure your business is current for 2017.

2017 Registration/ Renewal**


What You’ll Need to Register Online

  • Computer with Internet and email access
  • Internet browser: recent versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome
  • For Renewals – the user name (email address) and password used to create an account last year. If you’ve misplaced them, click Start An Application instead of Renew An Application on the Home page.

Information You’ll Need to Provide

  • Business Name, Description, Structure, State of Incorporation, Inception Date, etc.
  • Owner/Principal Name, Address, Telephone Number, Email Address
  • Business Address(es) – primary location and any other locations in Palo Alto
  • Number of employees (full-time, part-time, contract, and volunteers – including Owner/Principal) at each location during peak times on a normal business day
  • Number of on-site parking spaces dedicated to your business at each location
  • Number of annual parking permits purchased for employees at each location
  • Square footage your business occupies in each location
    Note: This is the gross area in square feet your business occupies. You can find this information in your lease agreement or building floor plans. For assistance, contact your property management team.
  • Federal EIN and/or Sellers permit number

* This fee includes a $1 state mandated fee on any application for 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.

** The link above is in regards to the 2017 Palo Alto Business Registry year, which is valid from January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. If you are seriously delinquent for the 2016 registration year (due March 31, 2016), contact us immediately at 650-329-2360 or to come into compliance.

Ordinance #5379 – Ordinance regarding the Business Registration Program

Staff Report ID #6470 – Most recent Business Registry- related staff report with links to previous reports.

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2017