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
Vancouver's business and special licensing regulations are found in their entirety in Title 5, Vancouver Municipal Code (VMC), and summarized below.
Business License or License Exemption. If you are conducting business in Vancouver (i.e., your business is located in the city, or it's located outside the city and you have employees that enter the city to conduct business), you must either:
- Hold a current city business license or,
- File a license exemption claim with the city, if qualified.
NOTE: Holding a city business license or claiming the license exemption does not authorize illegal activities.
Below are instructions on how to confirm you are working in the city, determine if you might qualify for a license exemption, and apply for a city business license if you do not qualify for an exemption.
Special Licenses. In addition to holding a city business license or claiming a license exemption, certain Vancouver businesses must hold a city-issued special license (e.g., solicitor/peddler, food vendor, taxi company/TNC, movie theater, pawnbroker, etc). See Special Licenses to learn more about the special licenses requirement.
Home Occupations. In addition to holding a city business license or claiming a license exemption, 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.
ARE YOU WORKING IN CITY LIMITS?
Because some Vancouver addresses are located outside the city in unincorporated areas of Clark County, you should confirm if you are, or will be, working in the city before applying for a city business license or claiming a license exemption. See options below for checking whether or not your location address is in the city limits.
- 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.
EXEMPTION FROM CITY BUSINESS LICENSE -- HOW TO CLAIM, IF QUALIFIED
To determine if you qualify for an exemption from the city business license, check the list of exemption criteria on the Determination of Exemption Checklist.
If you do not qualify for any of the criteria, complete the steps under the "City Business License -- How to Apply, If Required" section below.
If you do qualify for one of more of the criteria, complete the steps below to file a license exemption claim with the city.
- Download and complete all applicable fields on Determination of Exemption Checklist -- being sure to include WA State UBI number on form if you have one,
- Print, sign, and date checklist, and
- Submit checklist to city via one of the options shown on top of form -- being sure to retain a copy of the form for your records.*
* The city does not send you any paperwork in response to your submittal, but maintains an inventory of exempt businesses operating in the city.
IMPORTANT NOTES RE EXEMPTIONS & OTHER JURISDICTIONS:
Exemption only applicable to Vancouver.Claiming a city license exemption does not waive applicable licensing requirements of Washington State or other jurisdictions.
Applying for state license, if exempt from city license. If you are exempt from the city business license, but required to hold a state business license, see directions below.
- If location address is WITHIN VANCOUVER CITY LIMITS: Apply for state license via the Washington State Business Licensing Service (BLS) paper process only, as directed at: www.bls.dor.wa.gov/file.aspx -- do not apply online and do not complete a City Addendum.
- If location address is OUTSIDE VANCOUVER CITY LIMITS: Apply for state license via either BLS online process or paper process, as directed at: www.bls.dor.wa.gov/file.aspx -- do not complete a City Addendum.
CITY BUSINESS LICENSE -- HOW TO APPLY, IF REQUIRED
Businesses that operate in Vancouver and are not qualified for an exemption from the city business license must apply for a city business license. To apply, use either the online or paper application process, as described below. NOTE: For faster processing, apply online.
- Online: Follow instructions for applying for a city license atthe Washington State Business Licensing Service's (BLS's) City of Vancouver License website (http://bls.dor.wa.gov/cities/vancouver.aspx), or
- Paper:Download and complete Business License Application and City Addendum forms at BLS's City of Vancouver License website (http://bls.dor.wa.gov/cities/vancouver.aspx), or pick up forms up at 1st Floor Customer Service Desk, City Hall, 415 W 6th St, Vancouver WA 98660. Mail completed application and addendum, along with check or money order for Total Amount Due, to address on application form.
NOTE: Applications and renewals are not accepted at City Hall.
CITY BUSINESS LICENSE FEES
Annual fees for a business that holds a city business license (i.e., does not qualify for an exemption), include:
- BASE LICENSE FEE = $125.00 per location, plus
- SURCHARGE (EMPLOYEE FEE) = $60.00* per full-time equivalent (FTE) employee** up to 400 FTEs, not to exceed a total surcharge fee of $24,000 per business.
ANNUAL MINIMUM = $185.00 total per location
*Effective January 1, 2018, surcharge will increase to $70 per FTE employee** up to 400 FTEs, not to exceed a total surcharge fee of $28,000 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.
REFUND OF CITY FEES -- HOW TO REQUEST, 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:
LICENSE EXEMPTION & SPECIAL LICENSE 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.