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The Bainbridge Island Municipal Code states "every person who engages in business activities within the City shall apply for and obtain from the director a license for the privilege of engaging in business within the City for each calendar year or portion thereof." Engaging in business means commencing, conducting, or continuing in business, and also the exercise of corporate or franchise powers and liquidating a business (Ord. 2018-35). For online and cloud-based businesses, engaging in business is defined as the physical address of the business as listed with the Washington State Department of Revenue. Without being all-inclusive yet bringing specific awareness to the public, engaging in business includes:
A more comprehensive list encompassing the definition is available within Chapter 5.05 of the Municipal Code as modified by City Ordinance No. 2018-35. The City definition meets the State of Washington model threshold definition as mandated by RCW 35.90.080.
Business Licensing Exemptions
The City recognizes the following exemptions related to business licensing:
Fee-Exempt Business License. The City recognizes two types of businesses as eligible for a Fee-Exempt License. A Fee-Exempt Business License allows businesses to register with the City and obtain a City Business License; however, the business is exempt from paying the general business license fee of $65. To apply for a Fee-Exempt license:
Business owners will be contacted by the City to ensure the application meets the qualifications for fee exemption. Fee-exempt applications are subject to the same zoning and code compliance review and approval as a general or home occupancy license application. Be aware, the City will attempt to reach a business owner twice to discuss fee-exempt qualifications and acquire necessary information for zoning and code compliance review. If no response is received, the application will automatically be denied for failure to provide required information. Applications failing to provide valid contact information (i.e., phone number and/or email address) will be automatically denied.
The two types of businesses eligible for fee exemption are:
Full License Exemption. The following businesses do not require a business license and are exempt from licensing per BIMC 5.04.080:
The City's contract with the State of Washington Business Licensing Service (BLS) ensures businesses a "one-stop shopping" portal for obtaining individual city licenses throughout the State. The City continues to oversee, regulate, and maintain its business licensing according to City Code. The City maintains the responsibility for the approval, denial, and payment collection for business licenses.
If your business is located off the island, your business license will be granted automatically unless the business applies for a fee-exempt license. If a non-resident business applies for a fee-exempt business license, the City will contact you to determine if the business meets qualifications for fee exemption.
If your business is located on the island, your license application will be reviewed by the City for compliance with legal, zoning, and signage requirements. More than likely, business owners will be contacted by the City by phone to provide additional information pertaining to code and zoning compliance as part of the application review. If the application is approved, an endorsement will appear on your Washington State Business License. (NOTE: The City no longer provides Business License Certificates.) The approval process could take up to two weeks, or longer should compliance questions arise.
Certain businesses require additional information or permissions. It is the responsibility of the business owner or primary agent to provide the additional information and/or secure any and all approvals required by the City, County, and State. Common businesses requiring additional information or permissions include but are not limited to:
Yes. The Washington State Department of Revenue issues a "Uniform Business Identification" (UBI) number. The State UBI registers a business entity for tax purposes and is mandatory to obtain a a Bainbridge Island Business License. Only a City Business License entities a business entity to engage in business. Visit the State of Washington Business Licensing Service website to obtain your UBI number.
A City Business License costs $65. You will pay an initial $65 at the time of your application (the fee must be included with your application for your application to be processed) and $65 each anniversary year to maintain your license.
Nonprofit Organizations are exempt from the cost of a Business License.
BLS adds an additional $11 processing fee to cover license processing, postage, and other costs.
Your City Business License must be posted in clear public view in the place of business for which it is issued.
Approximately six (6) weeks before your current City business license expires, BLS will send you a license renewal letter with instructions to renew through BLS. Payment is easily accepted online with E-check or credit card. If you prefer to renew your license by mail using the BLS renewal form, the form and a check, made payable to the Washington Department of Revenue, must reach BLS before the license expiration date. A late filing fee will be assessed for renewals received after the expiration date.
Nonprofit organizations are exempt from the Business License Renewal Fee.
As an incorporated city, one way Bainbridge Island raises revenue is through its Business & Occupation (B&O) Tax levied on businesses doing business on the island. Businesses with gross receipts of more than $150,000 earned on Bainbridge Island are subject to the City's Business and Occupation Tax set at 1/10 of 1%. The tax is filed annually reporting gross revenue for the prior calendar year. This B&O Tax is separate from and in addition to the Washington State B&O Tax.
The City mails a personalized B&O Tax Report to our businesses the first week of January of each year. A generic report is provided below for your convenience. B&O Tax Reports and tax payments are due by the last day of February each calendar year. See the Fee Schedule to calculate penalties for reports received after the due date.
Please Note: Nonprofit organizations are only subject to Business and Occupation Taxes as a result of undertaking for-profit activities.
Please Note: Certain businesses are subject to separate taxes in lieu of B&O Taxes:
If you have questions about the City's B&O Tax, please contact the Finance Department at (206)780-8668.
You are required to notify the City of changes in the business physical and/or mailing address. Please notify:
When your request for a physical address change is received, and the business is located on Bainbridge Island, the change will be reviewed for compliance with legal, zoning, and signage requirements. If there is a compliance-related question or problem, or if further information is required, the business will be contacted. This process could take up to two weeks, or longer should compliance issues arise. Owners will be notified of outcome. Approved changes will appear on your Washington State Business License.
To cancel or close your City Business License contact:
The Business License issued is personal and non-transferable. No license shall allow another person to operate a business under the seller's license. The new owner must apply for a new license. To notify the City of sale of business, contact: