Starting A Business

License and Permit Process

To run a business legally, there are certain federal, state, and local licenses and permits that are required. The resources below outline the license and permit process for businesses.

Business License

San Joaquin County recognizes the importance of businesses to the community. Government regulations exist to protect the public. Businesses located in or conducting businesses in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County are required to be licensed. Business licenses are issued by the Treasurer-Tax Collector and must be renewed annually. For licenses to conduct business in incorporated cities within San Joaquin County, please contact the city.

To apply for a new business license, applicants should consult with the Community Development Department first. An application must be completed and the applicable fees must be paid. The Community Development Department is located at 1810 East Hazelton Ave., Stockton, CA 95205 and can be reached at (209) 468-3124 or For more information, visit their website at Community Development Business License.

Building and Inspections

Planning to expand or build something new? You have found a space zoned for your business, but before you break ground, you'll need a building permit. During your project, prepare for inspections and verify you meet the building code, fire code, and other requirements, like ADA access.

Building Permits

A building permit gives you legal permission to start construction of a building project in accordance with approved plans and specifications. In general, building permits are required to erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, convert, or demolish a building or structure, including:

  • New buildings
  • Building improvements (including tenant improvements), alterations and renovations
  • Re-roofing buildings
  • Electrical, plumbing and heating installations
  • Wood stove or fire place installation
  • Swimming pools, sheds over 120 square feet, water heaters, signs, fences over seven feet high, patio covers, carports and screened rooms

If you are unsure about the need for a building permit, please visit or call the San Joaquin County Community Development Department(CDD) (209) 468-2098.

There are six basic steps involved in obtaining a building permit in the unincorporated area of San Joaquin County.

  1. Visit or call the CDD
  2. Understand what's allowed and what's required (see FAQs / Process Overview; Public Works Featured Resources)
  3. Fill out building permit forms and pay fees
  4. Permit submittal and review
  5. Permit approved
  6. Inspection


Every department inspects for both the local and state level requirements, which may be different, so be sure to comply with both before any inspection. The departments that most often sign off on building and location changes are the Building Inspection Division, applicable Fire department, and, if you plan on serving food, the Environmental Health Department (EHD).

Community Development Department

The Building Division checks that construction conforms with approved plans and permits and complies with local and state building codes, including electrical and plumbing regulations. To schedule an inspection, you should call the CDD at (209) 468-3165 or schedule an inspection online.

Fire Department

Fire Departments inspect the life safety components of new building construction, building remodels, and fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems.


If you are creating a food business, the EHD is also part of the building permit process. They conduct an inspection to ensure you followed the appropriate guidelines. You must schedule appointments with the EHD at least three days in advance for each of the three phases:

Process Overview

Why Get a Permit?

There are several advantages to obtaining a Building Permit prior to construction of your project. The primary reason is that obtaining a permit brings you the services of a Building Inspector. The Inspector approves each phase of the construction process, checking to see that the work is done safely and properly.

Your home or business is an investment. If your construction project does not comply with the codes adopted by San Joaquin County, or your city; the value of your investment could be reduced. If you decide to sell a home or building that has had modifications without a permit, you may be required to tear down the addition, leave it unoccupied or do costly repairs.

Obtaining a permit and having inspections also provides protection for the public by reducing the potential hazards of unsafe construction and ensuring public health, safety and welfare. By following code guidelines, your completed project will meet minimum standards of safety and will be less likely to cause injury to you, your family, your friends or future owners.

Who Can Obtain a Building Permit?

Permits may only be obtained by the current property owner or a California licensed contractor on file with San Joaquin County. The owner or contractor may authorize, in writing, a representative to obtain a permit on their behalf. Authorization forms are available at the CDD. Permits will not be issued to unlicensed contractors or tenants without authorization.

What Type of Building Permit Do I Need?

There are six (6) different types of permits:

  • Building Permit
  • Plumbing Permit
  • Mechanical Permit
  • Electrical Permit
  • Grading Permit
  • Fire Permit

Consult with CDD staff to determine the types of permits required for your project.

What are the Steps in Obtaining a Permit When Plans are Required?

If you have completed your land use approvals (when required), you are ready to apply for your Building Permit. CDD maintains several types of Building Permit checklists. Select the checklist appropriate for your project. You begin your application process at the CDD. The CDD will review your plans for compliance with zoning regulations. This review can be completed and approved at the CDD counter. You will then be directed to the County Public Works Department(PWD), located approximately 20 feet away, and they will review your plans for compliance with their requirements and regulations (Public Works on-line resources). They will then direct you to the EHD, located in the same complex, for their approval of your plans (if public water and sewer are available, EHD review may not necessary). After your plans have been reviewed and approved by these three agencies (this takes approximately one hour), you are ready to submit your plan package to the Building Inspection Counter for review.

Where are these Departments located?

The CDD and PWD are located at 1810 E. Hazelton Avenue, Stockton. The EHD is located at 1868 E. Hazelton Ave., Stockton, one-half block east of the our building.

Do I Need Any Money to Submit Plans?

Yes, cash or check only. You will be required to pay a plan check deposit at the time your plans are submitted to the CDD. This is a non-refundable fee. For an estimate of the deposit amount, contact the CDD at (209) 468-2098.

How Long Does It Take For My Plans to be Reviewed?

The time frame varies depending on workload. Generally, the plan check period is four (4) weeks or less.

How Much Does the Permit Cost?

Permit fees vary depending on the type of construction, square footage and/or valuation of your project. Fee estimates are provided over the phone by calling the CDD at (209) 468-2098. If you would like to review your potential fees, the fee ordinance is available here.

How Long is My Permit Valid?

Your permit will be valid provided you begin construction and have a recorded inspection within 180 days of issuance. You must pass a required inspection every 180 days until the project is completed. If work is suspended for more than 180 days, the permit must be renewed before you can commence construction on your project. If you are unable to complete an inspection within 180 days, you may request an extension.

What About Inspections?

You will need several inspections, depending upon the extent of your project.

Will the Building Inspectors Automatically Show Up to Look at the Work?

No. It is up to you or your contractor to call or schedule online for inspection. If you call before 3:00 p.m. on any working day, the inspection will take place on the next working day. To schedule an inspection, you should call the inspection recorder at (209) 468-3165 or schedule an inspection online. You will be requested to provide the following information:

  • Permit number (mandatory)
  • Your name
  • Job site address and nearest cross street
  • Telephone number
  • Day inspection preferred
  • Type of inspection
When should I call for an inspection?

As a general rule, you should call before the item being inspected is covered up. For example, a rough framing inspection has to take place before you insulate; an insulation inspection has to take place before you install sheetrock; a sheetrock inspection has to take place before you tape the joints. If you have any doubts about whether you need an inspection before you cover up a phase of construction call, the Building Division Office at (209) 468-2098.

Other Departments Contact Information
Department Phone Number
Assessor's Office (209) 468-2630
Environmental Health (209) 468-3420
Code Enforcement (209) 468-3141
Fire Prevention (209) 468-3380
Air Pollution Control (209) 557-6400
Office of Emergency Services (209) 468-3962
Public Works Department (209) 468-3000
Flood Control Division (209) 468-3000
Neighborhood Preservation (209) 468-3175
Contractors State License Board (State of California) (800) 321-2752
Animal Control (209) 953-6070
Solid Waste (209) 468-3066