Choose a Location
Find a location
Find a location zoned for your business. Every location is zoned differently - some could require a “Change of Use” or “Conditional Use” application, which can include a public hearing and neighborhood notification.
Visit the Planning Information Center
Visit the SF Planning Department's Planning Information Counter at 1660 Mission St. to understand zoning and building codes. These requirements will determine where you open your salon.
Taking over a space that already was a salon saves time and construction costs, as long as the salon had recently passed inspections and was in compliance with current requirements.
If you purchase an existing salon, ask the previous owner to fill out an Establishment Closure form. You will then submit your own establishment application. The establishment license is only valid for the location and owner(s) it was issued to.
Review ADA guidelines
Review Americans with Disability Act (ADA) guidelines to make sure your business is accessible.
Sign your lease.
Sign your lease. Leases can be tricky, so review the lease carefully with a lawyer before signing.
Your landlord is required to provide information about the accessibility of the building, in case it needs renovations.
Set Up Your Business
Create a plan
Create a plan for the type of salon you will open.
Choose a business structure
Choose a business structure. LLCs, Corporations, and Limited Partnerships must register their structure with CA Secretary of State before registering locally.
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN)
Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number from the IRS. This is used to identify your business and allows you to hire employees. If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead.
Register your business
Register your business with the City through the Office of the Treasurer and Tax Collector (TTX).
If you register your business before choosing a final location, you will have to update your registration with the new address. This can cost money and time.
Choose and file a business name
File a Fictitious Business Name (FBN) Statement at the SF Office of the County Clerk if you will be using a name other than your given name, the names of your partners, or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.
Apply for a Seller’s Permit
Apply for a Seller’s Permit from the CA State Board of Equalization. Every location must have this permit to sell taxable goods.
Prepare Your Space
Submit plans and documents to the SF Department of Building Inspection. Change and resubmit plans as needed.
Water and Wastewater Capacity Charge
If your business will use more water than the previous business or resident, you may have to pay a capacity charge to the SF Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Get an estimate of the water capacity charge from the PUC before you sign a lease. This fee can be high, especially if your location was not a salon before.
Gas and Electric Services
If your business needs new or additional gas or electric services, contact PG&E Building and Renovation Services to start the application process.
Transit Impact Development Fee
If your business will increase the number of people coming to your area, you may have to pay a Transit Impact Development Fee to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA).
Small businesses may be eligible for Transit Impact Development Fee waivers or reductions.
If you want to install or change a canopy or sign on the outside of the building, ensure you comply with the SF Planning Department sign guidelines.
Become a licensed Barber, Cosmetologist, Esthetician, Electrologist or Manicurist.
Submit a completed initial examination application with the appropriate fee and any additional documentation to the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Pass your exam and receive your license.
Salon workers must complete a required number of training hours before taking the State Board examination to become a licensed Cosmetologist, Barber, Esthetician, Electrologist, or Manicurist. Be sure you understand the hourly requirements, list of qualifying training schools, application process, and examination procedures.
The above license does not allow you to offer massages, tattoos, piercings or permanent cosmetics. San Francisco regulates these activities separately. If you want to offer these services, apply through the DPH massage program or the Tattoo/Piercings/Permanent Cosmetics program.
Obtain an Establishment License
Apply for an Establishment License from the CA Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. This certifies the salon itself.
You will need your State entity information (business structure) and EIN to obtain an establishment license.
Read the State of California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology Frequently Asked Questions. They may have already answered some of your questions.
Dispose of hazardous materials properly
You can dispose of up to 220 pounds or 27 gallons of hazardous waste using the City’s drop-off program at SF Recycling and Disposal Inc. Call (415) 330–1425 for an appointment.
If you will have a Point of Sale (POS) station (also called a cash register), you must register it with the SF Department of Public Health Weights and Measures Program.
If you plan to hire employees, be sure to follow all wage and employment guidelines.
If you want to rent out chairs (also known as booth rental), be sure that your renters have the proper licenses and permits. This means that a stylist is renting a station in your salon. The stylist pays you rent to use your facility, but typically keeps what they earn directly from his or her clients.
If you plan to offer any additional services like a mobile spa or in-home salon, apply for specialized licenses from the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.
The SF Department of the Environment offers a Health Nail Salon program which recognizes nail salons in San Francisco that are implementing safer practices and products to protect the health of salon staff, the health of customers and the environment. To learn more, call 415.355.3700.
Post required posters and permits
Post all required posters and permits including No Smoking signs, minimum wage information, health inspection results, etc.
Equipment maintenance and permit renewals
Mark your calendar. Schedule equipment maintenance and set reminders to renew your permits and licenses as needed.
The Board does not schedule inspections. To better ensure salon compliance, inspections are performed randomly by inspectors in your area.