All businesses engaged in any business activity in Bellingham must be registered with the City's Finance Department. The registration is done through the state’s Business Licensing Service. Bellingham's general business registration only occurs once and is valid for the life of the business.
In order to register, you must:
- Complete a state Business License Application with a city business registration addendum.
- Pay a $40 fee to register with Bellingham.
- Pay a $19 state application handling fee.
- Pay fees for any additional licenses required for your business. For instance, businesses are strongly encouraged to register any new trade name for a $5 fee.
Enter your information on your own computer and pay by e-Check or credit card. Registering online is the fastest and most convenient method to apply. Go to the
Business Licensing Service website for more information.
Please allow 2-3 additional weeks in processing time if submitting the application by mail. Go to the
Business Licensing Service website to download and complete a paper version of the Business License Application and city business registration addendum, and mail with the appropriate fee (check or money order payable to “Department of Revenue”) to:
Business Licensing Service
Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 9034
Olympia WA 98507-9034
You may request to have the paper application forms mailed to you by calling 1-800-451-7985.
Please allow 2-3 additional weeks in processing time if submitting the application in person. You may drop off a paper application and a check made payable to "Department of Revenue" at either the
Bellingham Finance Department main office, or at
other regional state office locations. Your application will then be forwarded to the Business Licensing Service for processing.
License Approval Process
All new business license applications approved by the State are issued a Unified Business Identifier (UBI). The UBI is used by both the State and the City to manage your account. Approved Business Licenses, endorsed with a City of Bellingham registration, will arrive in the mail about 4-6 weeks after the application is submitted.
All eligible businesses for online B&O tax filing with the City will receive a unique account number and PIN number by email or mail. Additional instructions for filing your return will be included in this correspondence. Businesses should take note that they must pay State and City B&O Tax separately.
If registering a business physically located in Bellingham, your Bellingham license will be subject to zoning approved by the
City's Permit Center.
The City's current exemption levels for business and occupation taxes are $20,000 in taxable gross receipts. You will not need to pay B&O taxes if you are below Bellingham's tax exemption levels. If your business start date was prior to the current year, you will be sent tax returns for previous year(s).
Some businesses and individuals must apply for a regulatory license. All regulatory licenses must be filed with the City of Bellingham and are subject to additional fees, you must apply for and collect your Regulatory License in-person. Notable regulatory licenses include:
- Taxi Driver License. Contact the Police Department at 360-778-8800 for questions.
- Canvasser/Solicitor License. Contact the Police Department at 360-778-8800 for questions.
- Handbill Distributor
- Telephone Solicitor
- Sidewalk Vendor
To find out if a business or a trade name is registered with the City and/or State, please visit the
Business Licensing Service business license search.
To make any changes to the legal entity name for your corporation, LLC or LLP, you must contact the Secretary of State at 1 (360) 753-7115.
City of Bellingham
Washington State Department of Revenue