Key Steps to Starting a Business in Vista

  • Create a business plan. Research how to create a business plan at your local library. Additional resources are available at the Small Business Development Center. Call (760) 795-8740 for more information or visit The City of Vista’s Economic Development Department can also help you. Call (760) 639-6165. The Vista Chamber offers free SCORE counseling for new businesses. Call (760) 726-1122 for more information.
  • Determine the legal structure of your business. You can contact your own accountant or attorney for assistance in this matter. For additional information, contact the office of California’s Secretary of State at (916) 657-5448.
  • Obtain information on how to establish a fictitious business name from the San Diego County Clerk’s office. Call (760) 940-6858.
  • Select a site, determine zoning requirements and secure any special permits. Determine zoning requirements prior to signing a lease or contract by contacting the City of Vista’s Planning Division at (760) 639-6100. The Planning office can assist you in receiving information on the status of your location if you have the proposed business address and a description of the business. They will also assist in determining which special permits are required for specific business types.
  • Obtain a seller’s permit and resale certificate if you will be selling taxable items or provide a taxable service. For the appropriate forms, contact the California State Board of Equalization at (760) 510-5850.
  • Obtain a business license. Anyone doing business in the City of Vista must have a business license. You will need your business address, type of business, and zoning clearance from the Planning Division. An application can be obtained at the City of Vista’s Business License Division at 200 Civic Center Drive, Vista, CA 92084 or online on the Vista Business License web page.
  • Obtain employer ID numbers, if you intend on employing staff. These numbers can be obtained by completing form SS-4 from the Internal Revenue Service. Call (800) 829-3676 or visit Businesses are also required to obtain a state identification number to report employee taxes to the State.For more information contact the Employment Development Department ( at (888) 745-3886.
  • Contact the Internal Revenue Service to receive the Tax Guide for Small Business which is an invaluable tool to help business owners understand the basics. Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040.
  • Need assistance?  If you need assistance with a problem or help with site selection, demographics, etc., contact Kevin Ham, Director of Economic Development and designated Business Ombudsman at (760) 639-6165.


Business License & General
Information – City of Vista
Finance Department
(760) 639-6174

Permit Assistance – City of Vista
Planning Division
(760) 639-6100

Sign Permit – City of Vista
Planning Division
Sign Submittal Requirements
and Application

(760) 639-6100

Register Weights & Measures
(For devices used in your business)
County of San Diego Agriculture,
Weights and Measures Department
5555 Overland Ave., Bldg. 3
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 694-2738

Check City Zoning – City of Vista
Planning Division
(760) 639-6100

Water Connection
Vista Irrigation District
1391 Engineer Street
Vista, California, 92081
(760) 597-3100

Research Business Plans
Vista Library
700 Eucalyptus Ave.
Vista, California, 92084
(760) 643-5100

Building Permits and/or Certificate
of Occupancy
City of Vista
Development Services Division
(760) 639-6108

Information on State Licenses Required
for Specific Businesses/Professions
Consumer Affairs Office
State of California
400 R St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
(800) 952-5210

State Employer Tax Identification Number
Employment Development Department
800 Capitol Mall, MIC 83
Sacramento, CA 95814
(888) 745-3886

Fire Department Requirements and Regulations
Including fire safety inspections.
City of Vista
Vista Fire Department
(760) 726-2144

Wastewater Discharge Permit
City of Vista
Development Services Division
(760) 639-6108

Stormwater Discharge Permit
City of Vista
Businesses operating under certain
Standard Industrial Classification (SIC)
codes (those between 0211 and 5171)
must obtain coverage under the State
Water Resource Control Board’s
(SWRCB) General Industrial Stormwater
Permit No. NPDES CAS000001.
For more information contact the
City’s Engineering Department at
(760) 726-1340 extension 1373 or visit the SWRCB website regarding the specific requirements at:

Air Pollution Control Permits
Usually applies to business operations
that emit contaminants. Examples include, but not limited to: dry cleaners, gasoline dispensers, stationary engines, chemical manufacturing or processing and rock, mineral and asphalt plants.
Air Pollution Control District
9150 Chesapeake Dr.
San Diego, CA 92123
Small Business Assistance (858) 694-3307
Determine If Your Business Needs Environmental Health Permits
Businesses such as food-related companies, food handling, public swimming pools/ground storage tanks, medical wastes, biotech, x-ray equipment, water wells, septic systems, and solid waste handling and composting.
Department of Environmental Health
151 East Carmel St.
San Marcos, CA 92078
(800) 253-9933

File Articles of Incorporation/Register a Trademark
State of California, Secretary
of State
1350 Front St., Rm 2060
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 525-4113

Trademark Registration Office
1500 11th St., Rm 345
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 653-3506

Apply for Alcoholic Beverage License
Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
State of California
334 Via Vera Cruz, Suite 204
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 471-4237

Determine if Your Business is “Police-regulated”
San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
(760) 940-4551

Seller’s Permit
State of California
Board of Equalization
334 Via Vera Cruz, Suite 107
San Marcos, CA 92069
(760) 510-5850

Information on Worker’s Compensation
Regulations and Benefits
Industrial Relations Department
State of California
Division of Workers’ Compensation
1350 Front St., Suite 3047
San Diego, CA 92101
(800) 736-7401

Determine State Requirements Related to Employees
Includes, but is not limited to: fair employment laws, occupational safety, wage-hour laws and child labor laws.
State of California
Industrial Relations Department
Division of Labor Standards
(619) 220-5451

Grading and Other Permits or Regulations – City of Vista
Development Services Division
(760) 639-6108

For information on zoning requirements and permits in Vista
or statewide, visit: