Business Road Map

The City of Brea is a great location to start or expand your business. The City is proud to be a commercial and industrial and want to assist in helping your business thrive.

Please be aware of the requirements needed BEFORE buying a property or signing a lease for a property in the City of Brea. Below are the designated steps to help guide your new business and ensuring all City requirements are met through the process.

You might consider creating a Business Plan, although not required, a Business Plan can create the foundation to envision the future prospects of your business. If you need assistance creating a business plan, please access the Business Resources available.

1. Zoning (Check your Zoning)

The first step is verifying the business use is permitted to operate within the desired location. Visit the City’s Zoning Map, which shows the various zones throughout the City. Once you have verified your zoning visit our Zoning Code, Title 20. Each zone has permitted, conditional, and prohibited uses for each zone to verify the zone matches the proposed use of your business. If your use is listed under conditional or not listed at all, please refer to the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) section below.

In addition to verifying the zone, you will need to take into consideration the parking minimums for your desired location based on your proposed use. Some parking space requirements can be found in our Zoning Code, under Development Standards. Although, parking space requirements vary from location, contact the Planning Division to confirm the parking space requirement will be met.

Once you have confirmed your business use corresponds to the Zoning Code and Parking, move to the second step, applying for a permit.

Need additional help determining if your use is permitted within your proposed location?

Contact the Brea Planning Division at (714) 990-7674.

What if my business use isn’t allowed in my proposed zone? 

The Brea Zoning code specifies whether specific zones can be used for industrial or commercial purposes, if you have determined your location does not meet the Zoning Code, the City advises you explore different locations to start your new business. Contact Economic Development at (714) 671-4421 for further assistance.

What if my business use requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in my proposed zone?

If your business use requires a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), the business will require Planning Commission review and approval. The Planning Commission will determine if the proposed use should be allowed in the desired location. If you choose to apply for a CUP, please contact the Planning Division at (714) 990-7674 for more information on how to apply for a CUP.

2. Permitting (Apply for a Permit)

A building permit is required for new construction, an addition or major renovation of an existing building. It is often difficult to know when you need a permit and which type of permit you need for your remodeling project.

The following are some of the most common permits that may apply for your project:

  • Electrical
  • Demolition
  • Tentative Improvement
  • Wall
  • Sign
  • Change of Use

Once you have confirmed you need a permit, obtaining a building permit begins with completing an application and submitting four (4) sets of 24” x 36” plans (minimum.) The Building Permit Application is available on our website or at the front counter of the Building & Safety Division on the 3rd floor of the Civic Center. Structural addition or alteration plans will need to be submitted along with a site plan to the Building & Safety Division for plan check. Standard plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and some demolition permits may be issued over-the-counter.

If you have found your cosmetic alterations DO NOT need a Building Permit, apply for your Certificate of Occupancy.

Need additional help determining if you need a building permit?

More information can be found by contacting the Building & Safety Department at (714) 671-4406.

Are you changing the use of the existing building or tenant space?

If you are seeking to change the use of the existing building (ex. restaurant to office), you will need to apply for a change of use permit. Please review the requirements for changing the use of the existing building.

Change of use is NOT required if the proposed use of the existing building will remain the same (ex. restaurant to restaurant).

What should I expect to pay for my Building Permit?

Please take a moment to review all fees that may apply to your Building Permit application.


The following two items are required to be submitted at the time of your Building Permit application.

  • FOG Wastewater Discharge Permit Application 
    • During the initial Building Permit submittal, you will need to submit a Fat, Oil & Grease (FOG) Wastewater Discharge permit application.
  • Orange County Health Department Certification 
    • Health Certification obtained by Orange County must be present during the time of your Building Permit application. Without a Health Certification, please note you will not be able to submit your application.
    • Visit the Orange County website for more information

3. Certificate of Occupancy (Submit your Certificate of Occupancy) 

Once you’re confirmed your zoning and parking requirements and determined what permits are needed (if any), you are ready to apply for a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). The C of O is a requirement for any business in the City of Brea to obtain. By submitting a C of O, the business complies with applicable local building codes and Brea’s Zoning Code. Planning, Building & Safety, and Fire may all need to review the C of O.

Building inspections may be required to ensure the safety of the building as well as ensuring the building is up to code.

When meeting with your inspection, please be advised, the following items should be available:

  • Permit
  • Inspection Card (posted on site)
  • Approved Plans

After your inspection, the building official will determine the approval or denial of your C of O. If approved, the C of O will be mailed to the business within 10-14 business days or can be picked up at the Building & Safety Counter upon request. You can apply for your business license concurrently with your C of O.

4. Business License (Apply for a Business License)

A business license is required of all businesses operating in Brea. Please note, business licenses obtained by cities other than Brea are not valid and business licenses do not authorize your business to occupy a building or tenant space. The following permits, licenses, and/or identification numbers must be obtained prior to completing a Brea Business License application:

  • Fictitious Business Name (DBA) – if applicable
  • State Board of Equalization Sales Tax Account Number – Resale Number – if applicable
  • Social Security Number (if sole owner without employees)
  • California Driver’s License Number or California Identification Number
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (If corporation, partnership, or if employer)
  • State Licensed Contractor’s License Number and Classification – if applicable

Please read more information or to apply or renew a City of Brea Business License, please click here.  

For questions or concerns contact the Business License Division at (714) 990-7686 or

Resources for your business 

  • Maintaining a successful business can be unnerving, the City of Brea offers resources to ensure your business thrives in Brea. The Brea Chamber of Commerce partners with SCORE to offer free business workshops along with one-on-one mentoring guidance. Find the next SCORE workshop or schedule a meeting with a SCORE mentor.
  • For more information on building your business, visit the Brea Chamber of Commerce page. For more business resources, visit the Business Resources page.