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) will increase from $60 per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee to $80 per 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 address, 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. City business licenses are 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. Go to Special Licenses to learn more about city special license requirements.
HOME OCCUPATION BUSINESS. In addition to holding a city business license, businesses that operate from a residence located in the city (home occupations) 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, 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. After processing, BLS will send the city an electronic copy of your application. Unless there is a reason to delay activation, the city will activate the license in a timely manner.
3. Issuance of business license. Upon the city’s activation of the business license, BLS will mail to the business a Washington State business license, with the applicable category of license printed within the “City Endorsement” section of the state license, along with an expiration date. As described below, there are four possible categories of city license issued for Vancouver.
- 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 at an address within Vancouver that is zoned residential.
- 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||$125.00||per location|
|Surcharge (Employee Fee)||$ 60.00*||per full time equivalent (FTE employee**|
|TOTAL||$185.00||Minimum Annual License Fee / Location|
* Minimum Employee Fee: $60 (for 1 FTE)
* Maximum Employee Fee: $24,000 (for 400 FTEs)
* Effective May 1, 2017, the city business license fee surcharge will increase to $80 per FTE employee** up to 400 FTEs, not to exceed a total surcharge of $32,000 per business. 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: (1) Any person on business’ payroll, including full-time, part-time, and temporary employees; (2) self-employed persons, sole proprietors, owners, managers, and partners; and (3) any person performing work, services, or labor at business, except independent contractors with separate city business licenses and employees of temporary employment agencies with separate city business licenses.
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
After applying, for a city business license, if you determine you obtained the city business license in error or overpaid the employee fee amount, you may be eligible for a full or partial refund of the city license fees.
To request a refund, send an email to: email@example.com 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.