City Hall
City Hall
image description image description

Business Licenses

All businesses and persons doing business within the City of Forest Grove will need to obtain a business license each year, beginning October 1, 2008.  This annual program applies to home occupations, rental properties, non-profits performing business-like activities on an ongoing basis, temporary business and business solicitors.Churches and certain non-profit endeavors will need to obtain an “exemption certificate” and are exempt from paying the fee, while still submitting emergency contact information to the City.

The fee for a business license is non-refundable.Therefore, it is recommended that businesses and home occupations ensure that they meet all zoning and other code requirements prior to applying for a business license.The fee for a business license is due upon application.  Cash, check, or money orders are accepted for business license fees.


Businesses are responsible for knowing and meeting all codes, regulations and laws that pertain to them.A business license is not a statement or waiver that these other codes, regulations and laws have been met; it is merely for the privilege of doing business within the city limits of Forest Grove.It is possible that a business may have a valid city business license but may be unable to operate because it has failed to meet other requirements.The business license fee is non-refundable.  For more information call 503.992.3269.


For more specific information regarding whether or not certain activities are subject to the annual business license, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.


More information on:



Business Definition

Businesses are defined as any enterprise, trade, activity, profession, occupation, private educational facility, or any kind of calling carried on for profit or livelihood within city limits.This includes rental properties and year-round business-type activities that are operated by non-profits, such as a thrift store.  


For more specific information, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.   

Back to top


There is a one-time set-up fee and an annual fee based on the number of employees.  The fees are non-refundable.  Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order only.


 BUSINESS LICENSE FEES (Effective Oct 1, 2008)

 First Time Application Fee


 Businesses with 0 to 2.5 employees


  Businesses with 3 to 4.5 employees


  Businesses with 5 to 10.5 employees


  Businesses with 11 to 50.5 employees


  Businesses with 51 or more employees

 $100.00 plus $1/employee over 50

 Capped at $250.00 annually

 First Time Application Fee


 Up to 30 days of operation


Between 31 and 60 days of operation


 Over 61 days of operation

 Treated as a business


When you provide a check as a payment, you authorize the City either to use information from your check to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account or to process the payment as a check transaction.

Back to top


The fees for a business license are based on the number of employees.An employee is a person who works for or on behalf of a business in exchange for compensation, regardless of the number of hours worked or the type of compensation, and including sales agents or brokers, but does not include employees leased from another company, such as from a temporary agency.(Although that temporary agency would need to acquire a business license, and pay a fee based on the number of employees leased within city limits.)


To count the number of employees in order calculate the annual fee, the number of hours employees work becomes important.Those employees normally working thirty-two or more hours per week throughout the year are considered full-time and are counted as one full-time equivalent, or 1.0 FTE.Employees working less than that, or who work on a temporary or seasonal basis, are counted as one-half of a full-time equivalent, or 0.50 FTE.At the time of application, the fee is based on the number of FTEs counted when the first application is submitted.Thereafter, for annual renewals, the fee is based on an average count of FTEs during the previous year.


For example, a restaurant may have an owner and two people who work thirty-two or more hours throughout the year, plus have seven people who trade-off working three hours in the afternoons and weekends.This business would have a total of 6.5 FTEs for purposes of calculating the fee.(3.0 full time, and 3.5 part-time – the seven each counted as one-half.)

 Back to top

Contractor Information

Contractors doing business in Forest Grove are responsible for getting a Business License prior to the start of work.  A copy of your Construction or Landscape Contractors Board (CCB or LCB) license is required to complete the processing of your license.  An application can be printed from the link above.  Fees are accepted in our office or by mail, and are payable by cash, check, or money order only.


Contractors with headquarters (including home occupancy businesses) that are located outside of the City limits are only responsible to license the number of employees that will be working within the City limits.


Forest Grove is part of the Metro licensing district.  If you have an active Metro license, attach a copy to your application and there will be no fee due to the City.  Applications with no fees due (Metro only), may choose to fax the application, copy of the active CCB license, and copy of the active Metro license to 503.992.3199.


Business Licenses must be updated annually, including updated copies of CCB/LCB & Metro licenses.  Renewals are mailed out approximately 30 days prior to the expiration date.  Please update any information, attach copies, and submit forms back to the Licensing office. Back to top

Rental Properties

Renting property, whether a commercial building rental or residential rental property, is considered a business and, therefore, a business license is required.


Some exceptions are made.A commercial building containing two businesses where the owner of the building has one of the businesses and rents out space to a second business is not considered a commercial building rental and, therefore, does not have to obtain a business license for the rental, but does need one for the business itself.  If a commercial building contains 2 or more businesses who lease space from the building owner, the building owner needs a business license for the commercial rental.


For residential rental properties, an owner-occupied home where one or two rooms are rented out is not considered a business and, therefore, does not have to obtain a business license.  Likewise, renting one or two single family residences in town, or one duplex, does not require a business license.  However, a person who rents out 3 or more single family residents, or 3 or more units, or combination of units, in the form of apartments or multi-unit housing (such as duplexes, triplexes, etc) does need to acquire a business license for those rentals.

 Back to top

Secondhand Dealers

Those businesses engaged in the selling of second hand goods, such as antiques, guns, coins and scrap, etc., must obtain a Dealer’s Permit, because these types of businesses can present an extraordinary risk of being used as a means of concealing criminal behavior involving the theft of property.  Issuing Dealer’s Permits to these types of businesses is also hoped to reduce criminal activity by providing more timely police awareness of business transactions involving materials which may have been obtained through illegal means.  Currently, there is no charge for a dealer’s permit.This permit is in addition to the business license.


For more specific information, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.

 Back to top


Those who solicit another person to purchase or trade any product or thing and are not otherwise exempt must obtain a business license.In general, door-to-door sales people must obtain a business license, while those who go door-to-door requesting political or religious donations or opinions are exempt.


For more specific information, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.

Community Events

Community Events do not have to obtain a business license, though they may be subject to other permits and licenses.Community Events are events which provide an overall community benefit, are sponsored by a social or service organization, are open to the public, and are held not more than once a week.


For more specific information, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.

 Back to top


Certain activities, businesses and organizations will need to obtain an “exemption certificate” and submit the location, purpose and contact information for that activity, business or organization, but will not have to pay a fee.Those exempt activities, businesses and organizations are:


  • Churches;
  • Governmental agencies;
  • Publicly funded schools;
  • Civic leagues or organizations which operate exclusively for promoting social welfare;
  • Independent contractors who work in a building where the owner has obtained a business license covering those in the building who do a similar business, under the same name as the business on the license;
  • Community events;
  • Producers of farm goods sold by themselves or family members.

Other activities or businesses do not have to obtain a business license or an exemption certificate.Those exempt from both are:


  • A business operated by a person under 18 years of age;
  • Solicitations for religious, political, or other social welfare purpose;
  • Owner-occupied residences where two or fewer rooms are rented out;
  • Utility companies subject to the city’s franchise fee;
  • A household garage sale.


For more specific information, please refer to City Code Chapter Seven.


Back to top