Exemption or Special License Forms
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday
8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
(360) 487-8410, Ext. 3
415 W. 6th St.
Vancouver, WA 98660
Business and Special Licenses
City of Vancouver's business and special licensing regulations are found in their entirety in Title 5, Vancouver Municipal Code (VMC). Related requirements and policies are summarized below.
INCREASE IN BUSINESS LICENSE FEE SURCHARGE (EMPLOYEE FEE)
EFFECTIVE MAY 1, 2017, the city business license fee surcharge (employee fee) is $80 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee, not to exceed a total surcharge (employee fee) of $32,000 (for 400 FTEs) per business. See "Fees..." section below for more detail about city license fees.
CITY BUSINESS LICENSE. Vancouver requires a business to hold a city business license if it is either (1) physically located within city limits, or (2) entering city limits to conduct business. (To confirm if a business location is within city limits, see “How to: VERIFY IF DOING BUSINESS IN CITY” section below.)
Separate city business license. A separate city business license is required for each location in the city. In addition, if more than one business is operated from a single location, a separate city business license is required for each business.
Partnership with Washington State. Vancouver is partnered with the Washington State Department of Revenue, Business Licensing Service (BLS), for the administration of its city business licenses -- see "How to: OBTAIN A CITY BUSINESS LICENSE" section below.
Exemption from city license fees. Businesses that qualify for one or more of Vancouver's nonprofit or other exemption criteria, are exempt from paying city license fees. To claim nonprofit or exempt status, select the applicable category when completing the City Addendum part of the license application and provide any required attachments..
Not transferable. A city business license is not transferrable to another party; each new owner must apply for a new city business license.
CITY SPECIAL LICENSE. Certain types of businesses operating in city limits must hold a city-issued special license, in addition to holding a city business license. To learn more about city special license requirements Special Licenses .
HOME OCCUPATION BUSINESS. In addition to holding a city business license, a business that operates from a residence located in the city (referred to as "home occupation") must comply with the city's home occupation regulations set forth in VMC 20.860, and may be required to hold a Home Occupation Permit issued by the Community & Economic Development Department. Go to Home Occupation Permit to learn more about city home occupation requirements.
How to: VERIFY IF DOING BUSINESS IN CITY LIMITS?
Before applying for a city business license or special license, verify that your business location address is in city limits and, thus, subject to the city’s business license regulations. See the following options for making this verification.
- Enter location address at: City Limits Map, or
- Enter location address & check "Jurisdiction" at: Clark County Property Information Center, or
- Provide location address to Vancouver Business Licensing staff via email: email@example.com, or phone: (360) 487-8410 option 3.
How to: OBTAIN CITY BUSINESS LICENSE
Obtaining a city business license is a 3-step process:
1. Application. There are two possible methods to apply for a city business license: online via the BLS website (fastest method), or by mail (via paper application). Application-related fees are found in the “FEES…” section below.
- Online application. Go to www.bls.dor.wa.gov/cities/vancouver.aspx and follow instructions for completing online application and paying associated fees via debit or electronic check from your bank account, or via credit card.
- By mail (via paper application). Download Business License Application, City Business License Addendum, and Vancouver Instructions found at: www.bls.dor.wa.gov/cities/vancouver.aspx, or pick up forms from the first floor Customer Service Desk at Vancouver City Hall, 415 W 6th St, Vancouver WA 98660. Complete forms, and mail them, along with a check or money order for the “Total Amount Due”, to the Washington State BLS address on the application form.
2. City review & license activation. Upon successful completion of an application and associated payment, BLS will notify the city that the application information is available for review with respect to city regulations. Unless issues arise during the review, the city will typically activate a license within a week of BLS notification. (If issues arise, the applicant will be contacted.)
3. Issuance of business license. Upon the city’s activation of a business license, BLS will mail to the business a Washington State business license that has the applicable category of city license printed within the “City Endorsement” section of the state license, along with an expiration date. There are four possible categories of city license issued for Vancouver; see descriptions below.
- Vancouver General Business. Applies to a for-profit business that is not qualified for any license exemptions.
- Vancouver Home Occupation. Applies to a for-profit business that is not qualified for any license exemptions, and is located in the city at residential-zoned property.
- Vancouver Nonprofit Business. Applies to a nonprofit business that is qualified for one or more of the nonprofit exemption criteria.
- Vancouver Exempt Business. Applies to a business that is qualified for one or more of the other exemption criteria.
NOTE: A business’s state-issued Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number is used to reference its city business license account.
How to: RENEW CITY LICENSE
A city business license is active until the expiration date shown on the state license.
To facilitate the annual renewal process, BLS mails a renewal notice to each active city business licensee approximately 45 days prior to the applicable expiration date. The notice includes instructions allowing for completion of the renewal process prior to the expiration date.
Upon completion, BLS issues an updated state license, showing the applicable city endorsement category and new expiration date.
Renewal-related fees are the same as application fees – see “FEES…” section below.
FEES -- APPLICATION & RENEWAL
Shown below are annual city fees to apply for, or renew, a city business license that does not meet nonprofit or other exemption criteria. State processing fees will be charged and are found at: BLS Endorsement Fee Sheet.
Annual City License Fees – Application or Renewal.
|Base License Fee||$125.00||per location|
|Surcharge (Employee Fee)||$ 80.00*||per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee**|
|TOTAL||$205.00||Minimum Annual License Fee / Location|
* Minimum Employee Fee: $80.00 (for 1 FTE)
* Maximum Employee Fee: $32,000.00 (for 400 FTEs)
* Effective January 1, 2018, surcharge will increase to $90 per FTE employee** up to 400 FTEs, not to exceed a total surcharge fee of $36,000 per business.
** “Employee” is defined as: Any person working in the city that is on business’ payroll or that is a self-employed person, sole proprietor, owner, manager, or partner of the business. (Persons working for a business through an employment agency are considered employees of the agency.)
How to: UPDATE BUSINESS INFORMATION
It is important to keep your business account information current. Updates to the business name, governing people, and/or address(es) should be made online at: www.bls.dor.wa.gov/change.aspx, or reported via email to BLS at: bls.dor.wa.gov.
How to: REQUEST REFUND OF CITY FEES, IF APPLICABLE
If you determine that you obtained a city business license in error or overpaid the employee fee amount at application or renewal, you may be eligible for a full or partial refund of the city license fees.
To request a refund, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Washington State UBI number,
- full business name,
- location and mailing addresses,
- date fees paid to Washington State BLS,
- requested refund amount,
- reason for error in applying for license or miscalculation of fees, and
- name and phone number of authorized contact person
STILL HAVE QUESTIONS ???
LICENSE APPLICATION QUESTIONS -- Contact Washington State BLS:
CITY LICENSE REGULATIONS QUESTIONS -- Contact Vancouver Business Licensing:
Phone: 360-487-8410 option 3
Doing Business in VancouverAre you looking to start, grow or relocate a business in Vancouver? The City of Vancouver recognizes the value that businesses provide to our community and economy, and our Business Assistance Program encompasses a variety of programs and services designed to support business startup and growth citywide.