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Business License FAQ


Q: What/who must have a license?

A: All entities that are required to register with the State of Washington and are engaged in business activities within the Sammamish city limits, including those physically located in commercial or in-home locations inside the city limits and those coming inside the city limits to perform work must have a city of Sammamish business license.


Q: Is this a tax?

A: This is not a tax on business, it is a registration fee. The city has no B & O (Business and Occupation) tax. The fee is intended to cover the administration cost of the program. It is not a major source of revenue for the city.


Q: Do I need a license if my business is outside, but my customers are inside Sammamish city limits?

A: If you provide services or goods to people or property within the city, the answer is generally, yes. If however, the sale occurred outside the city limits and the only event occurring within the city is a delivery, the answer is no. (Please see the exemption section below.)


Q: How Can I Apply for a Business License?

A: The city is partnering with Washington State’s Department of Revenue, Business Licensing Service (BLS). Sammamish was the third city to join BLS with many more to come. It is a coordination of efforts with other municipalities and the State of Washington, to make the business license process as easy, efficient and streamlined as possible. The idea behind BLS is a one-stop license application and renewal process. For example, a Washington State business doing business in both Bellevue and Sammamish would need to fill out only one application, write one check, and receive one license from BLS showing endorsements for both Sammamish and Bellevue, as well as its state licenses and registrations. For more information about the Business Licensing Service (BLS) and state business registrations, go to: Business Licensing Service.

You may apply for a business license by filing a Business License Application at Sammamish City Hall, any participating city, any Washington State Unified Business Identifier (UBI) Field Office, via mail, or via a downloadable application.

For a list of UBI offices go to: Unified Business Identifier Service Locations. Currently participating cities are listed at the City and County License page at the BLS website.

Businesses can apply for the city license online and pay with a credit card. Online applications and renewals are currently available at Business Licensing Service website


Q: What are the fees?

A: A city Business License fee is $15.00 per year. This cost is intended to cover our administrative costs of managing the Business License Program and is not intended as a major source of revenue to the city. The Business Licensing Service (BLS) also charges a $15.00 application processing fee* for the initial license application.

Through an agreement reached with them for implementation of the new Sammamish business licensing in 2003, BLS will not charge the $15 processing fee for existing businesses that had business activity in Sammamish during the prior year, and that are already registered for business with the state.


Q: Do I need to renew the license?

A: The Sammamish license must be renewed annually for $15.00. BLS also charges a $9.00 renewal processing fee*.

The expiration date of the city’s license will be set to coincide with the renewal period established for each business’s Business License. This will enable the business to renew their state license(s), their city license with Sammamish, their city license with city of Bellevue (or other participating city) all at one time. The business will pay a total renewal fee equal to the sum of each license’s renewal fee and BLS’ $9.00 processing fee*.

*The state’s Business License Application and Business Licensing renewal accommodate handling multiple licenses at the same time. The fees charged by BLS cover that office’s processing costs and do not increase regardless of the number of licenses included at one time. BLS also charges a delinquency fee for a late renewal filing to cover its associated costs.


Q: Who is exempt from the city License?

A: The following entities are exempt:

  1. Governmental organizations
  2. Farmers selling their own farm products
  3. Casual or isolated sales providing they take place no more than 4 times a year.
  4. Delivery of goods by vehicle to a location in Sammamish when the actual sale took place outside the city.
  5. Taxi, limousine, airporter or similar service where the business operates from premises outside the city.
  6. Sales of goods or services by mail, telephone, or internet where the seller operates from premises located outside the city and the only event occurring within the city is receipt of the goods or services.
  7. Provision of internet or wireless phone services where the provider operates from premises located outside the city and the only event occurring within the city is receipt of the services.

Q: Who must register but is exempt from payment of the city license fee?

A: Non-Profit business activities carried on by religious, charitable, educational, benevolent, fraternal or social organizations who have been determined by the IRS to be exempt from the payment of income tax and whose charitable contributions would be deemed tax deductible are exempted from paying the license fee, but must still register with the city. A copy or proof of the IRS exemption is required to be filed with the registration. This registration is made directly with the city of Sammamish.


Q: What are the penalties if I don’t register, or renew my business license?

A: The city is going to phase in compliance with the business license requirement. We are hoping that we attain voluntary compliance. In general, the Business License Program compliance will be achieved primarily through a complaint based system. Failure to have a business license is a misdemeanor. Second or subsequent offenses are gross misdemeanors.

If a business does not file its renewal notice on time, the business may be charged a late renewal fee by the Business Licensing Service (BLS). If the license is not renewed, the misdemeanor consequences noted above could apply.

However, compliance with registration rather than punishment is the objective for this licensing process.


Q: What are the Benefits of the Business License Program?

A: As the Business License Program is developed the following benefits will accrue to the Citizens:

  • Public Safety
    • Alarm Systems Registration
    • Emergency Contacts
    • Hazardous Materials Registration
  • Planning and Zoning
    • Enforcement of Zoning Requirements
    • Appropriate Business Use
  • Sales Tax
    • Sales tax collection enhancement
  • Transient and Peddler
    • Registration of Peddlers and Transient Solicitations
  • Support for Business and Economic Development
    • Knowledge of types and extent of business activities in the city

The following Benefits will accrue to the businesses in addition to the above:

  • Added Credibility of being a Licensed Business
  • Increased Public Awareness
  • Increased Public Safety

The Sammamish Chamber of Commerce recognized the benefits of the program and endorsed the need for the city business licenses.


Q: What other Cities have a business license requirement?

A: Almost all of our neighboring cities have business license requirements. View the complete list of partner cities at the Washington State Business Licensing Service (BLS) website.

Bellevue already partners with the Business Licensing Service (BLS) for its licenses, and some of the other cities anticipate such a partnership in the future.


Q: How long is the license in effect?

A: The normal license period is 12 months and will expire on the expiration date established for your business through the Business Licensing Service (BLS). Sometimes the expiration date for a new business is adjusted, with fees adjusted accordingly, to match the BLS expiration date.


Q: Can I assume the former owner’s license?

A: No, business licenses are non-transferable. A new owner must apply for a new business license.


Q: Under what circumstances is a business license denied?

A: A business license may be denied because of zoning or code violations.


Q: How soon will I get my license?

A: Your Business License will be mailed in about two to three weeks after your complete license application information and all related fees are received by the state’s Business Licensing Service (BLS). If your application included licenses that require a longer time to be approved, you may receive an interim Business License with only some licenses listed on it, and then receive another license later on showing the rest of the licenses.


Q: Can I get a listing of new businesses in Sammamish?

A: A list of existing businesses is available at Sammamish City Hall. If you plan to use the list for commercial purposes, the city cannot provide a copy of the list. If the information will be used for research, or for another purpose that does not result in financial gain, the list is available for normal copying fees. You must sign a "request for information" form.