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Starter Kit for Barber Shops
Starter Kit for Barber Shops

If you're thinking about opening a barber shop, start here for a checklist of items to consider and permits that you may need to obtain to get your business off the ground. Please note that this guide does not substitute for legal or professional advice, and additional permits may be required depending on the circumstances of your business.

Barber Shop and Hair Salon Checklist

Checklist

The Barber Shop Checklist covers key items that you may consider when starting your business. Getting a new shop off the ground can be complex and there are numerous government agencies that you may need to interact with to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself, your team and your customers. Get a head start on the planning process by knowing upfront what to expect so you don't run into unexpected surprises that may delay your grand opening.

Find a Location
  • After you've developed your business plan, you'll want to start looking for great locations for your new business. Make sure the property you’re interested in has the right zoning for a barber shop by looking on ZIMAS. Also look to see if there are any overlay zones or other special planning zones - these may suggest additional restrictions above and beyond the zoning requirements.

    Don’t know where to begin looking for a potential location?  Try LocateLA which can help you find the best commercial buildings for rent and offers robust economic and demographic data to help you make an informed decision.
    If the location you are considering was a barber shop before, it will be much faster to get up and running - assuming the previous owner was legally operating with the right permits. You can check by reviewing the building’s Certificate of Occupancy. Otherwise, a Change of Use permit may be required from the Department of Building and Safety.
  • Once you know the zoning for the property you’re interested in, check to see if a barber shop is allowed within the property’s zoning category.

  • Identify the parking requirements for your business type and ask the landlord if the lease includes enough parking spaces to meet those requirements.

    If your project does not meet the zoning requirements – for instance, if there is not enough parking or if the business is not allowed for the zoning category, you will need to apply for a land use permit (entitlement) from the Planning Department. The approval process for an entitlement requires a public hearing and may take several months. The cost of this process varies but may be several thousand dollars. Be sure to visit the City’s Development Services Center for more information and assess whether this is still the right location for you.
  • Ask the landlord whether the unit meets Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements so you are aware of and can negotiate and/or budget for any needed renovations.

  • It’s always a good idea to meet with your local Council Office, Neighborhood Council and community police station - getting their support and insights can be important for a smooth launch. You can find their contact information using the City's Neighborhood Info Tool.

  • Review your lease closely before signing it. Keep in mind that it may take several months to obtain the permits you need to start running your business and bring in paying customers.

    Research the different elements of a commercial lease - they're very different from residential leases. You may also consider getting a lawyer to help you review and negotiate your lease.
  • Visit one of the City’s Development Services Centers or call (213) 482-7077 to connect with city staff who can help you review the zoning and physical requirements of your property location.

Register your Business
  • Before you open your doors, you will need to register your business, your business name and business entity. Check out the online start-up guide to get a tailored guide on how to formally register your business with the City, County, State and Federal Government and get set up to pay business, sales and payroll taxes.

Complete your Store Buildout
  • If the business that was at your location before was not a barber shop (for instance, if the prior business was a retail store or office), then you may need to file for a change of use permit. A change of use permit ensures that your property meets the city requirements for your business type. For instance, the previous business may have required fewer parking spaces than a barber shop does, and you would need to demonstrate that you could provide the additional required parking spaces to obtain the change of use permit.

  • Building permits are required for electrical, plumbing and structural changes to a building, including additions, alterations, construction and demolition. To obtain a building permit, you will need to file building plans, have them approved and schedule an inspection to verify the work after it has been completed. Depending on the scale of the project, there are different “plan check” options for LADBS to review your building plans – ranging from an online application and automatic approval for simple projects to an extended review of architectural and structural drawings for large, complex projects.

  • If you’ve received a land use or building permit from the City, make sure to follow up with the Development Services Center after any work is completed and schedule an inspection to make sure the work meets the required standards.

    You may need to schedule a few inspections if there are various phases of work that you are completing. Typically, you need to have an inspection before you "conceal and cover" any work that has been done. For your convenience, inspections can be scheduled online on the LADBS website
Obtain your Establishment and Cosmetology License
  • In order to operate a barber shop or other business covered under the State of California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, you will need to complete an Establishment Application.

    If you have purchased the barber shop from a previous owner, ask them to fill out an Establishment Closure form before you submit your own Establishment Application.
    The State of California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology will occasionally conduct random inspections of barber shop establishments to ensure that you are in compliance with California Laws and Regulations. It's a good idea to regularly complete the Self Inspection Worksheet (Spanish) (Vietnamese) to assess whether you're meeting the licensing and sanitation requirements.
  • In addition to completing an Establishment Application, you, your employees and any independent contractors who are renting a chair or booth in your shop will need to have a current license with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.

    Professions that are will need to complete the licensing process include cosmetologists, barbers, estheticians, electrologists and manicurists.
  • To obtain a license with the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, complete an apprenticeship and/or have a certain number of class hours at an approved school. After you've completed your training, you will need to pass a written and practical exam before you may begin to charge for your services. 

    If you have an out-of-state license, you may be able to obtain your license without having to take the written exam.
    If you want to install a barber pole in front of your shop, you'll need to have a licensed barber on staff. You should also check with the city's Development Services Center to make sure there aren't any zoning regulations that may affect the placement of your barber pole.
Bring on Staff
  • Review the Hiring Section for information on additional wage and employment guidelines.

Additional Resources

If you prefer a personal touch to getting your business of the ground, check out the Resources Section of the Business Portal. You can find organizations that might be helpful to you along the way, or visit one of the City's nine BusinessSource Centers for dedicated, free technical assistance.

Additional Reading

The State of California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has collected a list of helpful resources and regulations to help ensure that your business is in compliance with state law.