Starting a Business in Ripon

Shopping StripWhether you are an established business owner or a budding entrepreneur, you will find an extensive listing of valuable information and links throughout this section that should prove helpful in assisting you through the process of starting and/or conducting business in the City of Ripon. Please be advised that other steps may be appropriate for your specific type of business; therefore, this list should not be construed as all-inclusive.

Make a Business Plan

1. Evaluate your Needs and Develop a Business Plan

There is no way to eliminate all the risk associated with starting a business; however, you can improve your chances of success with proper planning and preparation. A good starting point is to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses by creating a Business Plan. A business plan is the blueprint or road map for where your business will travel. Your business plan may also serve as a tool for raising capital and is usually a requirement if you plan to apply for a loan or want to attract financial investors.

Below is a list of agencies that can provide a variety of services, resources and workshops to help you develop your business plan:

Ripon Chamber of Commerce

– Offers a wealth of benefits designed to attract and support businesses in the community. Provides services, programs and leadership to promote economic growth and foster a healthy business environment. For more information, call (209) 599-7519 or visit

San Joaquin Delta College Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

– Offers new and existing businesses help with financial, marketing, production, organizational and technical issues. Provides up-to-date consulting, training and research assistance in all aspects of business operation, management and start-up. For more information, call (209) 954-5089 or visit

United States Small Business Administration

– Offers small businesses a comprehensive and easy to use interactive tool guide intended to serve as a roadmap for starting a business. Provides numerous electronic links for additional resources.
Visit their web site at

2. Check & Clear Zoning Regulations

If your business will be located within the corporate limits of the city, (commercial building, your residence, etc.) contact the City of Ripon Planning Department at (209) 599-2108 to determine the zoning designation of your proposed site before finalizing your business location or signing any lease agreements. All businesses must locate in areas zoned to allow that particular business activity. Planning Division staff will help you determine if your business is an eligible use for a specific location and whether any special approvals are necessary.

Be aware that new business ownership or change in building use may require modifications to bring the building up-to-current code.

For additional information regarding Planning Permits and Approvals, contact the Planning Department at (209) 599-2108 or visit the Community Development Application Packets page. Applications can also be picked up at City Hall or mailed upon request.

3. Check & Clear Building Requirements

A Building Permit is needed for all new construction in the City of Ripon. In most cases, a permit is also required for replacement of existing construction, additions and remodeling. Building Permits are how the City of Ripon regulates construction to ensure it is safe for occupancy or use. This is done through the review of plans and periodic inspections to verify compliance with the California Building Code and local regulations. A Building Permit Application must be submitted along with the applicable fees.

Building Permit Application

For additional information regarding Building Permits, contact the Building Department at (209) 599-2151.

4. Determine your Business Structure

When beginning a business, you must decide what form of business entity to establish. The most common forms of business are Sole Proprietorships, General and Limited Partnerships, Corporations, and Limited Liability Companies. Each legal structure offers organizational options which are appropriate for different personal situations and which affect tax and liability issues. We suggest you research each legal structure thoroughly, and consult a tax accountant and/or attorney prior to making your decision.

For additional information, contact the State of California Secretary of State’s Business Portal at

5. Register a Fictitious Business Name

Any business name that does not include the last name of all the individuals who own the business or a business name that suggests the existence of additional owners, such as the words “company” or “association”, is considered a fictitious business name. In the case of a corporation, a fictitious business name is any name other than the corporate name stated in its articles of incorporation. No fictitious business name may include the words “Corporation”, “Inc.”, “Incorporation” or “Corp.” unless it is a corporation registered with the Secretary of State.

Every person who regularly transacts business in this state for profit under a fictitious business name must file a fictitious business name statement form with the San Joaquin County Recorder’s Office. Non-profit corporations or associations or charitable organizations do not need to file. Corporations do not need to file unless doing business under a name other than the corporate name.

For more information, please call the San Joaquin County Recorder’s Office at (209) 468-3939 or visit

6. Pay your Business License Fees

Per Ripon Municipal Code Section 5.04.020, anyone wishing to commence or carry on any trade, calling, occupation, profession or pursuit, must first pay the required license fee and obtain a Business License from the City of Ripon.

Per Ripon Municipal Code Section 5.04.060, certain businesses are exempt from the business license requirements but may obtain a business license for a minimal processing fee.

For additional information regarding Business License fees, exemptions and applications, contact the Finance Department at (209) 599-2108 or visit the Business License page. Applications can also be picked up at City Hall or mailed upon request.

7. Obtain Permits and Licenses

Following is a list of additional permits/licenses that may apply to your business:

Air Pollution Control Permit:

Anyone proposing to construct, modify, or operate a facility or equipment that may emit pollutants from a stationary source into the atmosphere must first obtain an Authority to Construct from the local air district. Anyone operating a facility that emits air pollution must obtain an Operating Permit from the local air district. Contact the SJC Air Pollution Control District at (559) 230-5800 or visit for additional information. For your convenience, applications are available at City Hall.

Alcoholic Beverage License:

Any business selling alcoholic beverages is required to obtain an Alcoholic Beverage License. Contact the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control at (209) 948-7739 or visit for information.

California Department of Consumer Affairs License:

Many businesses require a State license from the California Department of Consumer Affiars.   For a complete list and additional information, contact the California Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210 or visit

County Health Permits:

A health inspection is required for restaurants and food vendors. Contact the San Joaquin County Health Department at (209) 468-3420 or visit to arrange for an inspection, or to request information and advice regarding health and environmental safety issues.

Firearm’s License:

For information on firearm’s licensing, contact the Firearms Licensing and Permits Unit at (916) 227-3694 or visit

Fire District Permits:

A Fire Code Inspection is required for businesses located within the corporate limits of the city. The California Fire Code does require permits in certain occupancies.  Contact the Ripon Consolidated Fire District at (209) 599-4209 to schedule an inspection.

Hazardous Materials Permit:

If your business utilizes any hazardous substances, you are required to complete a Hazardous Materials Survey Form. Contact the County of San Joaquin Office of Emergency Services at (209) 468-3420 or visit for information. For your convenience, forms are also available at City Hall and, once completed, can be forwarded to the Office of Emergency Services per your request.

Seller’s Permit:

You must obtain a seller’s permit if you 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. The requirement to obtain a seller’s permit applies to individuals as well as corporations, firms, partnerships, and so forth. Both wholesalers and retailers must apply for a permit. For more information, contact the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) at (800) 400-7115 or visit

Other Permits & Licenses:

To determine what other local, county, state and federal permits and licenses your business may need, call the CalGOLD Business Permits Made Simple office at (916) 322-7394 or visit their web site at

8. Tax Information

There are several agencies in the State of California that administer a variety of taxes. The following is a list of state agencies that can assist you in determining your tax obligations and provide you with information about tax reporting and taxpayer rights.

The Franchise Tax Board (FTB) administers personal and corporate income and franchise taxes for the State of California. If you have further questions, you can contact the Franchise Tax Board at (800) 852-5711 or visit  

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues federal employer identification numbers and administers federal payroll taxes, including social security, medicare, federal unemployment insurance and federal income tax withholding. For more information, call (800) 829-1040 or visit

The Employment Development Department (EDD) issues employer account numbers (sometimes called State Employer Identification Numbers, SEINs, state ID numbers, or reserve account numbers) and administers California’s payroll taxes, including Unemployment Insurance, Employment Training Tax, State Disability Insurance, and California Personal Income Tax Withholding. For more information, call (888) 745-3886 or visit

For additional assistance with the tax aspects of your business, you may wish to attend one of the Small Business Fairs sponsored by the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Internal Revenue Service, Franchise Tax Board and Employment Development Department.  For more information, visit

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