Starting a Business? Start Here

Below you'll find a short list of items that all businesses will want to consider. Please visit Vancouver Business Resource for additional information and support

  1. Every business operating in the State of Washington is required to obtain a state business license. The Washington State Department of Revenue website provides information on how to apply for this license, as well as step by step guides for starting different types of businesses. In addition to the business license, other occupation-specific licenses and registrations may be required. Visit the Washington State Business Licensing Service to apply.
  2. The City of Vancouver requires a business license for firms operating within City limits. The city partners with the State of Washington to create a one-stop-shop where you can apply, renew and pay for both the State and City license at the same time. Visit the Washington State Business Licensing Service to apply. 
  3. The City will still process City Special Licenses and Home Occupation Permits. If you plan to operate a small business out of your home, contact our planning staff at (360) 487-7803 or review the City's Home Occupation Ordinance to determine if your business meets the criteria. If your business earns less than $12,000 in total gross receipts annually, you may be exempt from the City Business License requirement. To determine whether or not you are exempt and to file an exemption application, see the Determination of Exemption Checklist.
  4. Before you sign a lease contact our Business Assistance Coordinator, Rebecca Kennedy or at (360) 487-7896 to schedule a Pre-lease walk-through at your potential business location with City staff to help make sure it’s a good fit for you with no costly surprise.
  5. If you plan to operate a food or beverage business, please contact the Clark County Public Health Food Safety division and the Washington State Liquor Control Board for information on additional requirements and approvals.

There are a number of local and regional organizations that can assist you with starting and growing your business. We encourage you to visit Vancouver Business Resource - this online resource provides information on starting a business, business assistance programs, incentives, networking opportunities and more.

The City of Vancouver supports and facilitates creation and expansion of all businesses – large or small. If you have any questions, contact the Business Assistance Coordinator, Rebecca Kennedy or at (360) 487-7896.