New Business Checklist


How to start a business in San Diego County  

1. Business Name & Legal Structure

Conduct a name search (see below), choose a business structure (such as Sole Proprietor, LLC, S-Corp, etc), and form the business.

Business Name Search: Is my name available?

To prevent potential trademark infringement, run your business name ideas through the searches below to look for companies using a similar name with similar products/services.

  1. Google Search (conduct a simple Google search)
  2. Fictitious Name Database - San Diego County
  3. Unregistered Business Names - The Thomas Register
  4. Registered Trademarks - USPTO database

 2. Fictitious Business Name/DBA (“Doing Business As”)

 Is it required for my business?  

FBN filings are required when a person or corporation is doing business under a name that is different from their personal name (as with a Sole Proprietorship) or their corporate name (as with an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp).

  • Example 1: If the legal registered name of an LLC is “Smith Jones LLC” and it does business as “Smith Jones LLC”, the FBN is NOT required. If it does business under another name, the FBN is required.
  • Example 2: If Jane Doe does business as “Jane Doe Consulting,” the FBN is NOT required because the owner is conducting business under her legal name.

How to obtain a FBN?

3. Employer ID Number (EIN)

Does my business need an EIN?

An EIN is required by the IRS for Partnerships and Corporations, regardless of employees, and for Sole Proprietorships with employees.

For more information, visit

Apply for an EIN:

To apply online, visit

4. Business License (Business Tax Certificate)

Do I need a business license?

Yes, business licenses are required for all operating businesses. 

  • If your business is located within the City of San Diego (zip code 921XX): Go to the Office of the City Treasurer
  • If your business is NOT located within the City of San Diego: Go to GO-Biz

5. Other Licenses & Permits

Additional local, state and federal permits may be required depending upon your business type, including a Seller’s Permit, if your business sells tangible goods that require sales tax.

Search for any additional required licenses & permits:  

6. Commercial Bank Account

Requirements vary from bank to bank, but most require some or all of the following: driver’s license or passport, FBN/DBA, business license, EIN/Tax ID, and incorporation documents for corporations (LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp, etc).