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Starting a Business Guide

Guide to Navigating Permits and Regulations for Starting a Business in Bellevue

Starting a new business in Bellevue can be an exciting venture, but it's essential to navigate the necessary permits and regulations effectively. Here's a step-by-step guide based on the insights shared in the interview with a tax specialist for the city of Bellevue:

1. Determine Your Business Entity:

  • Before you begin, decide on the type of legal entity for your business (e.g., sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC). Seek advice from a tax professional or business planner if you're unsure.


2. Start at the State Level:

  • Begin by visiting the Washington Secretary of State's website ( Depending on your business entity, you may need to apply for a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number from the Secretary of State.


3. Register for State Business License:

  • After obtaining the UBI number, register your business for tax purposes with the Washington State Department of Revenue ( This step ensures that you're compliant with the state's tax regulations.


4. Proceed to Local Licensing:

  • Once you've completed the state-level requirements, you can start the local licensing process in Bellevue.


5. Utilize

  • To streamline the local licensing process, consider using the FileLocal system ( This platform allows you to apply for a Bellevue business license and licenses for several other Washington cities within the same website.

  • Note that the City of Bellevue does not require a renewal process for local business licenses. In an effort to make things simpler for small businesses, the licensing fee is one-time only and the license remains active as long as the business is in operation. 


6. Determine Tax Classification:

  • Understand how your business will be classified for tax purposes. Depending on your business type (retail, service, wholesale), you may align closely with the Washington State Department of Revenue's tax codes. Bellevue's tax office follows similar guidelines.


7. Small Business Tax Threshold:

  • If you are a small business, it's important to note that in Bellevue, you won't owe any taxes until your annual revenue exceeds a specific threshold. As of 2023, this threshold is $195,000 per year. The threshold may change annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

  • Note that if you maintain commercial space in the City of Bellevue (offices, retail space, etc.) a Square Footage Tax may be assessed on the space. As described above, your business is exempt from this tax until you exceed the revenue threshold for taxes.


8. Keep Updated:

  • Check the Bellevue tax forms page, and especially the tax return for the current year to find information about the annual threshold and other relevant tax details. This information is usually found on line nine of the tax return.


9. Contact for Assistance:

  • If you have any questions or need assistance with navigating the process, consider these contact options:

    • Visit the Bellevue tax forms page ( for resources and information.

    • Call the dedicated phone line for assistance. The tax office is available during regular business hours.

    • Utilize the provided email address for specific questions. Responses are typically provided within 24 hours, often on the same day.


10. Research and Additional Resources:

  • As a business owner, you may encounter unique elements of the tax system based on your specific business type. The Washington State Department of Revenue offers a resource where you can find information about your specific business classification and contacts for assistance.

11. City, County, and State Licenses:

  • Be aware that depending on your business type and operations, you may need to deal with multiple levels of government (city, county, state). Understand the requirements at each level and ensure compliance.


12. Embrace Small Business Friendliness:

  • Bellevue aims to support small businesses, and they have set a reasonable revenue threshold before businesses owe taxes. Leverage this to focus on growing your business without immediate tax obligations.


Remember that navigating the permits and regulations for starting a business in Bellevue may seem daunting at first, but by following this guide and utilizing the resources mentioned, you can streamline the process and ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant tax codes and regulations. If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to the Bellevue tax office for assistance. Good luck with your new business venture in Bellevue!

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