How to get your business license, permits , ein for a nail salon in california and others

When you’re starting out your salon, your business license is the first step to even get your foot in the door. It’s pretty easy to get your license and permits in California but it’s very time consuming if you don’t now what you’re doing. It’s the government’s way of tracking your business activities and Uncle Sam wants his pay cut. You basically just need your EIN, Business License , Sellers permit (if applicable) and Establishment license. These vary with different states.

What business license? What permits? ahhh…

tax guy

1) Get your FEIN aka EIN.

(Employer Identification Number)  –  If you’re a sole proprietorship meaning, if you’re the only on doing business you do not need to get this. But I would highly recommended this because it’s free and only takes a few mins online. This is the number that will separate you from you business. If you need to open a bank account they usually ask for this number. This is federal so if you’re in California or New York, this is the same process.

Register here:

 2) Fictitious Business Name (FBA) 

You’re probably not going to use your own personal name for a salon. This is about 90%+ of businesses out there, for example AT&T, Best Buy, Gucci, etc. These are all fictitious business names and can be searched online on who the owners are and if it’s expired.

This one will take a bit of research because each state and county has different rules and regulations.

But if you’re in California, here’s the 2 main things :

Register for your County

Register in the newspaper +/- 4 weeks TBD (this will show your name business, addresses etc.)

Try this: (certain California counties only) :

I used DBA store and they did the paperwork for the DBA and the publishing which came out to be around $80 $100 as I can remember. But this is also depending on your county. It’s easy and basic information.

Once you complete this, you can open up a bank account under your business name and you get your own cool name!

paperwork girl

3) Business License and Zoning 

This is obviously going to be filed with the city you’re opening up shop. Simply go on your city’s web site and see what their process. Some of the cities in California you can sign up online , some you can walk right in and some is just confusing.

It’s a guarantee that the zoning department will see where your future nail salon will be established in. What ever their local ordinances, you’re going to have to follow it. They don’t want a nail salon in the middle of a residential area for example.

Few Tips from my own experience ( I pulled over 10 licenses for another company)

City and County may have their OWN jurisdiction because the government loves to make life harder.

For example, let’s say your future nail shop is in 321 First St in Pleasantville City USA. You walk into the Pleasantville city planning and building department and ask to get a business license. They can say “sorry” this is not our area, this is actually under “County” of Pleasantville so you need to see them. This happens often and it’s literally by the street address, so confusing!

Another Example. You get your building plans for a tenant improvement at Pleasantville City USA. So the building department says “Ok we will take your plans”. Then Pleasantville City fire department says, this isn’t our Fire jurisdiction it’s “County of Pleasantville Fire”. So now you have 2 sets of plans in the same location but different jurisdictions.

Most of the time you may not have to jump through these city permit hoops but just stay aware.

4) Sellers Permit. 

cashier girl

If you’re selling products in your beauty salon, you will need this for the state of California. But if it’s only a “Service” you don’t need to worry about this permit. But again, you need to find out for yourself.  Not sure about other states but you’re going to have to do your own research.

Here’s what is says in California

Are engaged in business in California and
Intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail.

I can’t comment on different states and I can’t even tell you exactly what to do, there’s other companies out there that can do all of this for you.

5) Barbering & Cosmetology License Establishment License

In California you will need this license to operate a salon. This includes anything under their rules and regulations.

For more information in California:

6) Barbering & Cosmetology License (your own personal)

You probably already have this depending on what your trade is and you know more than I do on it. I’m telling you on this blog, I don’t get too specific on your actual skills. I get specific only on marketing. But I can tell you, you’re going to need a license to do the actual work.

7) Misc Building Permits

construction workers

This will be on a case by case basis and needs of your salon. Anything that you need to do that will impact the building itself will most likely need a permit. I would suggest to always get 3 quotes and try not to use “my friends buddy does this”. My reasoning is if something goes wrong, it’s so hard not to yell at them and break that bridge.

Permits do get very expensive and you should check with the city first once you pull your business license. 

Do I need a permit to install 5 spa chairs? , Do I need a permit to change the signage outside? How about the demo of a wall?

Ask all possible questions because you have to get an estimate on how much this will all cost. Ask both your contractor and the city because you’re the one who’s going to foot the bill.

That’s it for now..

This is enough for you to get started and you will have many questions. But it’s just so difficult for me to explain because I do not know the city you’re in and they are all different. These are the very basic. I can recommend reading a few books on Amazon or asking an agent to pull these for you. Sometimes it may be easier and the money you’re going to spend will be well worth without the headaches.


Small business marketing, Crazy runner guy, loves good and now start-up nail salon ninja. Aka “Jack of all trades”.

Leave a Reply