Civic Center Open: 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mask required in building with social distancing. Click COVID-19 for information.



Tips for Starting a Business

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  • Create a business plan. Research how to create a business plan at your local library and online. A popular, easy-to-use tool for better understanding business ideas is the business model canvas. Check our the Small Business Development Center. Call 760.795.8740 for more information. 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 coworking space or 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.
  • Resources

    Business License & General
    Information – City of Vista
    Finance Department
    760. 639.6174

    Permit Assistance – City of Vista Planning Division

    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

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

    Water Connection
    Vista Irrigation District
    1391 Engineer Street
    Vista, California, 92081

    Research Business Plans
    Vista Library
    700 Eucalyptus Ave.
    Vista, California, 92084

    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
    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

    Wastewater Discharge Permit
    City of Vista
    Development Services Division
    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 x 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

    File Articles of Incorporation/Register a Trademark
    State of California, Secretary
    of State
    1350 Front St., Rm 2060
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Trademark Registration Office
    1500 11th St., Rm 345
    Sacramento, CA 95814

    Apply for Alcoholic Beverage License
    Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
    State of California
    334 Via Vera Cruz, Suite 204
    San Marcos, CA 92069

    Determine if Your Business is “Police-regulated”
    San Diego County Sheriff’s Department

    Seller’s Permit
    State of California
    Board of Equalization
    334 Via Vera Cruz, Suite 107
    San Marcos, CA 92069

    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

    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

    Grading and Other Permits or Regulations – City of Vista
    Development Services Division

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