Is a business license the same as a reseller's license? if not, what is the difference?

I live in California and want to open a small, home based business that resells items at festivals and fairs but mostly online (eBay). I want to do it right so I don't run into problems later, but really not sure where to start. Do I have to charge a sales tax for online purchases? my partner thinks I don't have to. If we decide to sell packaged food items, do I need any special license for that too? Any info from those already in business would be greatly appreciated!


If we decide to add packaged foods later, it'll be on the theme of organic baby items (baby food jars, teething biscuits, formula, etc) that are made by other companies such as Gerber and such.

Update 2:

A bit more info: Our theme will be organic, earth friendly or harder to find baby items: such as clothing, shoes, cloth diapers, cloth wipes, blankets, toys, etc.

3 Answers

  • marie
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A business license and a reseller's license (seller's permit) are different. Below is a sight offered by the state of CA for info regarding small businesses.

    In general, if you sell tangible personal property in CA, you will owe sales tax on the items you deliver to CA. However, the sale of cold food items that are not eaten on the seller's premises are exempt from sales tax, so if all you are selling is food, you will not need a seller's permit.

    You will need a permit for the other items. You are required to charge tax to the items you ship to CA addresses.

    There is a link to the Board of Equalization, which is the organization that issues seller's permits in CA.

  • 1 decade ago

    They are different. However, I am not sure with laws in Cali. The business license is registering your business and having a taxpayer ID. This is a government controlled issue. On that application, you will denote the type of business you are operating.

    Generally, you can be an "Authorized Reseller". I have done applications for Authorized Reseller but it was through the organizations themselves. I did Oracle, Microsoft and Cisco.

    You can contact your local Better Business Bureau. Although they are not responsible for these applications, the ones here in Illinois are very helpful. Also, try the Small Business Association (SBA). They may have some good resources for you.

    RE: Packaged food items would depend on if they are perishables. I belive that if it is something you have prepared yourself that you would need to have approved by the Department of Public Health. If you are doing this out of your home, it would require a second kitchen. (At least that's what we had to do for my mother's proposed baking company).

  • 1 decade ago

    You can call the city Treasurer and learn everything in one call. She wants you to do it correctly. There might not even be a business license needed. There may or may not be tax. it's nice that you are thinking about paying taxes;most eBay sellers aren't thinking about that because there is no one to police it.

    Certain states do have restrictions on wines and liquors and fruits and imported foods (unpasturized cheese products). You call the Cal. Agriculture Dept. They are nice.

    I opened my own business in 2001. I'm having fun.

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