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Business Licenses

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Anyone doing business in Seattle must have a Seattle business license tax certificate, also known as a business license or general business license. In addition to obtaining a business license tax certificate, business owners must renew this certificate each year by Dec. 31. You can apply and renew online at FileLocal, or you can do so via mail. In FileLocal, the Seattle business license tax certificate is referred to as a general business license.

How do I apply/renew?

  • Online – Apply, renew, manage your account information, file tax returns and pay taxes online through
    FileLocal. Before you begin the online process, please be sure to obtain a UBI number from the state of Washington if your business is legally required to have one. If you determine that your business is not legally required to have a UBI number, and you are operating as a sole proprietor, you may create a business account on FileLocal by clicking on "Skip UBI Question," then selecting "Enter UBI Later." This will allow you to proceed with your application. If you are applying for or renewing a license in the current year, you should be able to print it once the payment has processed, usually within 2-3 business days.
  • By mail - Download a 2023 Seattle business license tax certificate application. Then fill it out and mail it to us along with your payment. You should receive your business license tax certificate in one to six weeks. Use this form if you need a business license application for 2022.
  • Note: Business license tax certificates cannot be renewed by phone. Renewal payments must be submitted online or through the mail.

Lost your license tax certificate?

If you lost or misplaced your business license tax certificate, contact us at (206) 684-8484 or tax@seattle.gov. We will mail you another hard copy.

Who needs a business license tax certificate?

Most businesses operating in Seattle are required to have a business license tax certificate. Even if you are starting a new business and have not become profitable yet, you must apply for a business license tax certificate and renew it annually. You need a license tax certificate for:

  • Retail sales and services
  • Wholesale
  • Providing professional or personal services
  • Manufacturing
  • Home-based businesses
  • Nonprofit organizations

Please note that only the owner is required to get a business license tax certificate; employees do not need to get individual license tax certificates. If you are unsure whether or not you need a Seattle business license tax certificate, please contact us at tax@seattle.gov or (206) 684-8484.

Effective 2019: Any person or business whose annual value of products, gross proceeds of sales or gross income of the business in the city is equal to or less than $2,000 AND does not maintain a place of business within the city shall be exempt from the general business license tax certificate requirement. The exemption does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit.

For details and legal explanations of business license tax certificate requirements, see the Seattle business tax rules.

Regulatory endorsements

The City of Seattle regulates taxis, short-term rentals, adult entertainment, towing companies marijuana businesses and several other business types. These businesses require both a Seattle business license tax certificate and a regulatory endorsement added to the license tax certificate. For more information, see businesses that require a regulatory endorsement.

Licensing information for some specific business types

  • Businesses based outside Seattle – If your business is based outside Seattle and you do business within the city, then you must have a Seattle business license tax certificate. In other words, you need a license for where you conduct business; not just for where you're located.
  • Subcontractors – Subcontractors need a Seattle business license tax certificate even if the contractor who they are working with already has one. The license is valid only for the legal owner listed on it.
  • Nonprofits – If you raise funds in Seattle, whether as a for-profit or non-profit organization, you must have a Seattle business license tax certificate.
  • Online-only business – Contact us if you have questions about licensing for online-only businesses. You may need a Seattle business license tax certificate if your business originates from Seattle or has servers within city limits.
  • Home-based business – Businesses based in a Seattle home usually need a Seattle business license tax certificate. Contact us if you have questions about licensing for home-based businesses.
  • Street/sidewalk vending – In addition to a regular Seattle business license tax certificate, you may need a street-use permit to operate as a street vendor in the City of Seattle. A street-use permit is issued through the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). For more information, see SDOT's Vending Permits page.

How much will my license cost?

All business license tax certificates expire on Dec. 31 and must be renewed annually.  The main fee (not the fee for branch locations) charged for your renewal will be based on the taxable revenue reported in the most recent complete calendar year. If the filings for that period are incomplete or there is no tax history, the minimum fee will be charged, and the City of Seattle will bill for additional license fees if necessary, later during the year.

The City of Seattle's Ordinance 125083, established that on Jan. 1, 2020 and on Jan. 1 of every year thereafter, the fees for a business license tax certificate shall be increased consistent with the rate of growth of the prior year's June-to-June consumer price index for the region, as published by the US Department of Labor. The fees are as follows:

Annual Seattle Taxable Revenue

Annual Fee 

2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
$0 - $19,999** $55 $55 $56  $56 $59 $65
$20,000 - $499,999 $110 $110 $113 $114 $120 $132
$500,000 - $1,999,999 $480 $500 $511 $515 $543 $598
$2,000,000 - $4,999,999 $1,000 $1,200 $1,227 $1238 $1,306 $1,438
$5,000,000 or more $2,000  $2,400 $2,455  $2476 $2,613 $2,878
Branch locations $10 per location $10 per location $10 per location $10 per location $10 per location $10 per location

If you start your business in the second half of the year, July 1 or after, your license tax certificate fee for the first year will be reduced by half.

**Effective 2019: Any person or business whose annual value of products, gross proceeds of sales or gross income of the business in the city is equal to or less than $2,000 AND does not maintain a place of business within the city shall be exempt from the general business license tax certificate requirement. The exemption does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit.

Penalties

The expiration date for all Seattle business license tax certificates is Dec. 31. We must receive your business license tax certificate renewal payment before Dec. 31. This table shows late-payment penalties:

Payment received
or postmarked by

Penalty

By December 31 None
In January None
In February $10
March 1 or later $20

If you no longer do business in Seattle and need to cancel your business license tax certificate, please tell us in writing. Just letting your business license tax certificate expire does not cancel your license tax certificate.

To cancel your license tax certificate, complete the online form below. Or send us an email or letter with the following information:

  • your name and phone number
  • customer number
  • legal name of the business
  • date business closed

You must file your final tax return and pay any outstanding taxes within 10 days of closing your account.

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Owner Name

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Owner Address
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General Business License Fees

New general business license applicants pay Tier 1 fee as a default for first year, or half of Tier 1 fee if start date is July 1 or later. $10 for each additional location, all tiers.

  

Taxable Revenue
(last calendar year)
2022 2023
Tier 1 Less than $20,000 $59 $65
Tier 2 $20,000-
$499,999.99
$120 $132
Tier 3 $500,000-
$1,999,999.99
$543 $598
Tier 4 $2 million-
$5 million
$1,306 $1,438
Tier 5 More than $5 million $2,613 $2,878

Taxable Revenue
(last calendar year)
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
Tier 1 Less than $20,000 $56 $56 $55 $55 $55
Tier 2 $20,000-
$499,999.99
$114 $113 $110 $110 $110
Tier 3 $500,000-
$1,999,999.99
$515 $511 $500 $480 $480
Tier 4 $2 million-
$5 million
$1,238 $1,227 $1,200 $1,000 $1,000
Tier 5 More than $5 million $2,476 $2,455 $2,400 $2,000 $1,000

  • Regular - $110
    • $55 for new business licenses starting July 1 or later 
  • Reduced - $55 (world-wide gross less than $20,000 current year)
    • $27.50 for new business licenses starting July 1 or later
  • $10 for each additional location

  • Regular - $90
    • $45 for new business licenses starting July 1 or later
  • Reduced - $45 (world-wide gross less than $20,000 current year)
    • $22.50 for new business licenses starting July 1 or later
  • $10 for each additional location

City Finance

Jamie Carnell, Interim Director
Address: 700 Fifth Ave., 4th Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34214, Seattle, WA, 98124-4214
Phone: (206) 684-8484
tax@seattle.gov
Hours: 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.

City Finance manages the financial operations of the City of Seattle and oversees the City’s financial controls and enterprise reporting while working to achieve the goals set by the Mayor and the City Council.