Starting a Business in Colma

Why Colma

The Town of Colma, known world-wide as the “City of Souls,” is a unique, diverse community of 1,509 residents located on the San Francisco peninsula. It is a regional destination known for its cemeteries, shopping centers and auto sales district. In spite of its urban setting between the cities of Daly City and South San Francisco, the Town maintains a “small town” feeling for its residents and many visitors.

Colma’s commercial buildings make a distinct architectural statement resulting from design standards that encourage Spanish- Mediterranean motifs. Colma boasts an old- world charm all its own, from its paving stone residential streets and ornamental street lamps to its historical museum and restored railroad depot located at its Historical Park and Community Center on Hillside Boulevard.

Within its two-square mile boundary, the Town enjoys a strong tax base, one of Northern California’s most complete collections of car dealerships, two shopping centers and a cardroom. There are two BART stations nearby. Colma is also easily accessed via Highway 280.

The Town has a modern city infrastructure with a professional staff who are easily accessible to residents and local businesses. A monthly newsletter is distributed from Town Hall with timely information about the City Council agenda, upcoming community events and special interest articles.

This small-town approach to modern, municipal government reflects a commitment to both a thriving business climate and a harmonious relationship with residents.

Where to Begin

Colma Specific Requirements

Before applying for a business license in Colma and opening your business, there are items that you may need to address:

  • Zoning requirements with the Town of Colma Planning Department
  • IRS Employer Number
  • DE-1 Form with the State Employment Development Department
  • Fictitious Business Name Statement from the County
  • Legal publication of Fictitious Business Name
  • Seller’s Permit—State Resale Number
  • State license (contractors)
  • State Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage
  • Permit for selling food from the County Environmental Health Department
  • Building permit for any exterior or interior modifications from the Colma Building Division
  • Sign approval from the Colma Planning Department
  • Fire inspection from the Colma Fire Protection District


There are many online resources available which contain valuable information on starting a business. One of the best resources is the U.S. Small Administration:

Below are lists of possible requirements and set-up costs that you may need to consider prior to opening your business:

  • Prepare a business plan
  • Get a business license
  • Obtain a sellers permit
  • File a fictitious business name
  • Draft a partnership agreement or incorporate with the Secretary of State
  • Open a checking account
  • Talk with an accountant about bookkeeping
  • Set up bookkeeping systems
  • Research insurance needs
  • Develop rate structure
  • Develop brochure, logo and/or website
  • Draft contracts needed for customers/private contractors
  • Print brochure, letterhead
  • Prepare employee training
  • Develop pay schedule
  • Develop billing procedure
  • File appropriate tax forms
  • Develop market research/advertising
  • Lawyer for partnership agreement/lease review
  • Filing fees—business license, permits, fictitious name
  • Design of logo or other graphics
  • Printing brochure, letterhead, flyers, etc
  • Development of website
  • Market research
  • Telephone system/answering machine
  • Utilities
  • Rent or purchase of a building
  • Insurance
  • Advertising
  • Board of Equalization bond
  • Laundry and cleaning
  • Directories for customer contact
  • File incorporation papers
  • Association dues
  • Fixtures/equipment/vehicles
  • Office supplies
  • Books and publications
  • Chamber of Commerce membership

Unincorporated Area

If you are operating a business in the unincorporated area adjacent to the Town of Colma, you are subject to the requirements and procedures of San Mateo County.  Contact the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department at 650-363-4161 for more information.


For additional information on how to start your business in Colma, please do not hesitate to contact the Planning Department at (650) 757-8888.

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