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Seattle’s Business License Tax Certificate

Everyone who does business in Seattle must hold a Seattle business license tax certificate, also called a business license or general business license. Along with obtaining a business license tax certificate, business owners must renew this certificate before December 31st of each year. 

Applicants can apply for and renew their business license tax certificates online using FileLocal or by email.

How to register or renew?

  • Online – Through FileLocal, business owners can apply, update and manage their account details, submit tax returns and pay taxes online. Some businesses are legally required to have a Washington State UBI number that they must obtain before starting the online process. Companies that do not legally require a UBI number can create a business account in FileLocal. They can do this by clicking “Skip UBI Questions” and selecting “Enter UBI Later.” Business owners can also print out their applications immediately through FileLocal if it’s a new application or renewal of the current year’s license. 
  • Mail – First of all, applicants must download the ‘Seattle business license tax certificate application.’ Then the application form must be filled out by the business owner and emailed to [email protected] along with payment. The city will send the business license tax certificate by mail within one to six weeks. 

    Have you lost your business license tax certificate?

    If a business owner has misplaced or lost their business license tax certificate, they can call (206) 684-8484. They can also mail at [email protected] for another hard copy.

    Who needs a business license tax certificate?

    Most businesses require a business license tax certificate to operate in Seattle. Even if a business owner is starting a new company that is not yet profitable, they must apply for a business license tax certificate and renew it every year. The following businesses require a business license tax certificate:

    • Retail sales and services
    • Wholesale
    • Providing professional or personal services
    • Manufacturing 
    • Home-based businesses
    • Non-profit organizations

    Note: Only owners need to obtain a business license tax certificate; employees do not need a separate one. 

    What is the cost of a license?

    All business license tax certificates expire on the 31st of December, and business owners must renew them annually. The main fee for renewal (other than the fee for branch locations) depends on the business owner’s taxable revenue reported in the most recent calendar year. If there is no tax history, the City of Seattle will charge the minimum fee. Additionally, they will also charge a license fee if required.

    Seattle City Council ‘Ordinance 125083’ stipulates that on January 1, 2020, and on January 1st of every year after that, the cost of the business license tax certificate will increase. This increase will be per the growth rate of the previous year’s June-to-June consumer price index for the region. The costs are as follows:


    All Seattle business license tax certificates expire on December 31st. Business owners must send a payment for the renewal of a business license tax certificate before December 31st. The following table shows the penalties for late payment. 

    Seattle Business License Tax Certificate Penalties

    To view Seattle’s Short term Rental Regulations, Click Here.