All businesses and persons doing business within the City of Forest Grove need to obtain a business license each year.
Starting a successful business requires a great deal of preparation. Each business/applicant is responsible for complying with all local, state, and federal laws.
All businesses operating within the Forest Grove City limits must comply with the City's building, zoning, and public safety requirements. A business license is not a statement or waiver that the business complies with local, state, and federal laws. The City license does not constitute a permit to engage in any activity prohibited by law.
The City Business License is not a regulatory tool. The license is used to collect necessary emergency contact information for the Police and Fire Departments, provide statistics on the types of businesses operating within the City, and to raise revenue.
New Business Licenses
There are several steps when starting a business and applying for a City of Forest Grove Business License.
- Step 1 - Determine the Business Type
- Step 2 - Obtain the Necessary Applications
- Step 3 - Determine the Cost for Your Application
- Step 4 - Submitting Your Application
There are three primary license types, which are determined by your business.
- General Business License - This license type includes home-based businesses, retail businesses, contractors, rental properties, etc. There are multiple application types associated with this license type. They are basically the same, with some details hardcoded to streamline the application completion process. The fees are the same for all of these types. If selling used goods, a Dealer's Permit may be required. There is no fee for this permit, but the application must be submitted along with the General Business License application. If you are considering establishing a business from your home, a Home Occupation Permit may be required. Please contact the Planning Department at 503-992-3233 to inquire. There is no fee for this permit, but the application must be submitted along with the General Business License application.
- Exemption Permit - This license type is for utilities, churches, and non-profit businesses that provide information they are not receiving funds to operate. Being a 501(C) business does not necessarily mean you qualify for an exemption. As the name implies, businesses of this license type are exempt from the fee, while still submitting emergency contact information.
- Temporary 30 or 60 Consecutive Day License - This license type would be for seasonal business activities such as Christmas trees and fireworks stands. There is a lessor fee for this license and can only be obtained one time per 12-month period.
General Business License Application
- Application - General Business License (PDF)
- Application - Contractor (PDF)
- Application - Rental Property (PDF)
Temporary Business License Application
Dealer's Permit Business License Application
Home Occupation Permit Application
Exemption Certificate Application
The fee for a business license is non-refundable. Therefore, it is recommended that businesses ensure their business and location meet all requirements prior to applying for a license. The fee is due upon the submission of the application. Cash, check, or money orders are accepted for business license application fees.
General Business / Rental Properties / Contractors
The Business License fee has two parts. A one-time application fee for all new or re-establishing businesses. The second portion is the business license fee. It is based upon the number of owners of the business, as well as the number of employees working within the Forest Grove city limits.
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 includes sales agents or brokers as well as business owners for sole proprietors, partnerships, etc.
The number of employees is calculated based upon the number of hours worked. If an employee works an average of 32 or more hours per week throughout the year, they are considered full-time and count as one full-time equivalent (FTE). Employees working less than 32 hours per week throughout the year are counted as 0.5. At the time of application, the fee is based on the number of FTEs.
Example, a restaurant has one owner and two employees working 32 or more hours throughout the year. They also have seven additional employees working in shifts of three hours. This business would have three full-time equivalents (owner and two employees working 32 plus hours each week) plus 3.5 FTE (shift employees), for a total of 6.5 FTE.
The City of Forest Grove is part of the Metro licensing district. If you are a licensed contractor with an active Metro license, you have already paid your licensing fees to Metro so no fees are due to the City. However, the City still needs your contact information. Please complete the contractor license and include a copy of your active CCB or LCB and Metro licenses with your application to waive the business license fees.
The Temporary License fee has two parts. A one-time application fee for all new businesses. The second portion is the business license fee. It is a flat amount based upon whether you are applying for a 30- or 60-day license.
Dealer's Permits / Home Occupation Permits / Exemption Certificates
All three of these license types have no fees associated with them.
Applications and applicable fees may be mailed to:
City of Forest Grove
Attn: Business Licenses
P.O. Box 326
Forest Grove, OR 97116
Or they may be hand-delivered to the second floor of City Hall which is located at
1924 Council Street
Forest Grove, OR 97116
If you are a contractor with an active Metro license, since no fee is due, you may email your application, along with copies of your CCB or LCB and the Metro licenses to the Business License Office.
If you are applying for an exemption certificate, since no fee is due, you may email your completed application to the Business License Office.
If you are applying for a business license that requires a payment, mail or hand deliver the application and payment. Please do not email the application and then submit payment. Since the payment must be presented with the application, an application without the payment will not be processed.
It can take the City up to 30 days to process your application once it is received. So please plan ahead.
It is important to keep your business information updated. When it is time to renew your business license, a renewal notice will be sent to the information on file approximately thirty (30) days prior to the expiration date. It will have the current information on file for your business, along with the current renewal fees. Please update the form making any necessary changes. Submit the entire form even if there are no changes along with your fee.
If you are a contractor with a CCB/LCB and a Metro license, please submit copies along with your renewal notice.
There is a one-time application 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.
Effective July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024:
Business License Fees - General Business / Rental Property / Contractor
- One-time Application Fee - $32.50
- Businesses with 0 to 2.5 employees - $45.50
- Business with 3 to 4.5 employees - $65
- Business with 5 to 10.5 employees - $97
- Business with 11 to 50.5 employees - $129
- Business with 51 to 149.5 employees - $172
- Business with 150 or more employees - $323
Business License Fees - Temporary Business
- One-time Application Fee - $32.50
- 0 to 30 consecutive calendar days - $19.25
- 31 to 60 consecutive calendar days - $38.50
- 61 or more consecutive calendar days - Treated as a General Business - see above fees
For more specific information regarding whether or not certain activities are subject to the annual business license, please refer to the Business License section of the City Code Title XI: Business Regulations.
You can reach the Business License Office via phone by calling 503-992-3200, by emailing the Business License Office, or in person on the second floor of City Hall located at:
1924 Council Street
Forest Grove, OR 97116-0326
Except as limited in the City Code, BUSINESS means any enterprise, trade, activity, profession, occupation, private educational facility, or any king of calling carried on for profit or livelihood within the city including businesses and rental properties that offer to rent or lease three or more residential rooms, units, or structures, and commercial building rentals containing two or more businesses. BUSINESS does not include the noncommercial on-premises sale of used household goods by a person who resides on the premises (a yard or garage sale) so long as the sales are conducted on no more than six days in any 12-month period.
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.
Contractors with headquarters (including home-based businesses) that are located outside of the Forest Grove 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 to waive the fee due to the City. Applications with no fee due, may choose to email the application, copy of active CCB/LCB and Metro licenses to the Business License Office.
Renting property, whether a commercial building rental or residential rental property, is considered a business and will require a business license.
A business license is required for a commercial building where two or more businesses are renting/leasing space from the owner. However, if the commercial building only has two businesses, and one is operated by the building owner a commercial rental business license is not required. The building owner would still need a license for their business occupying the building.
A residential rental business license is required for any property owner renting out three or more rooms in their home, three or more units, apartments, houses, or combination of units. If you are renting out one or two of the aforementioned units, no license is required.
Property management companies are required to have a business license regardless of the number of units they manage, separate from the property owner.
Businesses operating out of a residential address may require a Home Occupation Permit in addition to a General Business License. Some business types cannot be operated out of a residential area. Please contact the City's Planning Department at 503-992-3233 to determine if your address permits your proposed business, and if this application applies to your home-based business.
Individuals or businesses engaged in selling secondhand goods, such as antiques, guns, coins, scrap, etc. must apply for a Dealer's Permit in addition to a General Business License. Due to their nature, these types of businesses have an extraordinary risk of being used as a means of concealing criminal behavior involving theft of property.
Door-to-door salespeople must obtain a business license, and adhere to the times and regulations set forth by the Police Department for soliciting. In addition to applying for the license, a list of those individuals going door-to-door must be provided. Each person going door-to-door must carry a copy of the business license. Those requesting political or religious donations or opinions are exempt.
Community Events do not have to obtain a business license, though they may be subject to other permits and licenses. Community Events are events that 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 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 include:
- Governmental agencies
- Publicly funded schools
- Civic leagues or organizations that operate exclusively to promote 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 include:
- 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, less than 6 days in any 12-month period.
A list of newly issued business licenses, as well as a comprehensive list by business name and by business type, are available online.
- August 2023 New Business License Listing (PDF)
- Comprehensive Business License Listing by Alpha (PDF)
- Comprehensive Business License Listing by Category (PDF)
- July 2023 New Business License Listing (PDF)
- June 2023 New Business License Listing (PDF)
- List of Business License Category Descriptions (PDF)
What's Growing On?
Stay connected to your city! What's Growing On is our monthly e-newsletter filled with news events and community stories.