California Talent Agency Licensing Guide

In the state of California, no person shall engage in operating a talent agency without obtaining licensure from the Labor Commissioner. Defined by California Labor Code section 1700.4(a), a talent agency is a person or corporation engaging in procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to get employment or engagements for an artist or artists, with these activities subjecting a person or corporation to regulation and licensing under this chapter. These talent agencies may, in addition, counsel or direct artists in the development of their professional careers.

A talent agency license is meant to be posted in a conspicuous place in the office of the licensee. The license number shall be referred to in any advertisement for the purpose of the solicitation of talent for the talent agency (Labor Code section 1700.5).

Some states do not have any special licensing requirements for talent agencies, while others require a license and supplemental documents such as copies of labor contracts and fee schedules. In this post, we will outline the common requirements for talent agent licenses in California and provide the steps that you can use to obtain your license.

Step 1: Register your business

Before applying for a California talent agency license, you must register your business in the state of California. It is important that each business determines its structure prior to registration. Business structures include sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, C-Corps, and S-Corps. Based on your business type, there may be additional permits, licenses, or certifications that your business needs to acquire. To register your business, visit here to see the federal and state requirements.

NOTE: For personalized technical assistance, the California Office of the Small Business Advocate recommends getting in contact with a small business advisor in your county. This network provides free one-on-one consulting and low-cost training. Applicants can click here to connect with a local Center and speak with an advisor.

When you have completed this process, you can continue with your license application.

Step 2: Ensure Record-keeping

Every talent agency will need to maintain records for each artist it manages. Not only will some of this information need to be listed and provided in documentation, but these records also must be available for inspection during all reasonable hours. The following records should be kept, according to California Labor Code sections 1700.26 and 1700.27, for four years:

  • The name and address of each artist employing the talent agency

  • The amount of the fees received from each artist

  • The beginning date and the ending date of any contract entered into between the artist and the talent agency

  • The name and address of the employer and the inclusive dates and type of service of each job engaged in by the artist during his or her term of contract with the agency

  • The compensation received by each artist for each engagement

  • The fee amount due to the talent agency and the amount of fee paid to it by the artist for each engagement

  • A record of all funds received on behalf of an artist and the distribution of the funds

Step 3: Become Bonded

An important requirement during the licensing process is the talent agency bond that you must post and submit through the State of California’s Talent Agency Bond (DLSE 306) form. The bond must have $50,000 of coverage.  These bonds are subject to underwriting consideration; the price you’ll pay depends on a review of your personal credit history. Qualified applicants could pay as little as 1% of the bond amount, or just $500.

The purpose of this bond is to guarantee your compliance with Chapter 4, Part 6, Division 2 of the Labor Code of the State of California. This chapter specifies the various obligations agencies have toward any artists and agents they work with. In addition, per California Labor Code Section 1700.15, this surety bond must be in place to keep your license active.

Ready to get bonded quickly, easily, and accurately? Start here with today! 

Step 4: Compile Documents

An extensive list of documents and forms must be submitted with your application in order to be approved by the California Labor Commissioner. To avoid any delays in obtaining a license, applicants must be sure that their application packet includes this supporting documentation:

  • Bond (DLSE 306)

  • Affidavit of Character (DLSE 301-A)

    • Two affidavits from every individual owner, general partner, or corporate officer AND every person in a managing position

  • Personal Record (DLSE 301-B)

    • Required of every individual who has completed an affidavit of character

  • Premise Certification

  • Sample – Nonexclusive Contract Between Artist and Talent Agency (DLSE 315A)

  • Sample – Exclusive Contract Between Artist and Talent Agency (DLSE 315B)

  • Sample – Fee Schedule (DLSE 315C)

  • Certificate of Workers’ Compensation Insurance

  • Copy of Driver’s License/Photo ID

  • Fictitious Business Name Statement (if applicable)

  • Articles of Organization (if limited liability company)

  • Articles of Incorporation and Statement of Domestic Stock (if corporation)

  • Business Tax Registration Certificate (if business is at residence)

Applicants will be asked to verify their compliance directly with DLSE per a Request for Live Scan Service.

The fingerprints provided will be used to check the criminal history records of the FBI. Applicants will have the chance to complete or challenge the accuracy of information contained in the FBI identification record. The procedure for obtaining a change, correction, or updating an FBI identification record are set in Title 28, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 16.34

The Labor Commissioner reserves the right to request additional supporting documentation to complete the investigation regarding the character, competency, and responsibility of the applicant.

Step 5: Submit Application and Pay Fees

When turning in the application via the talent agency online application system, applicants should ensure the application for a talent agency license is completed, dated, and signed by the individual applicant, all of the general partners, or an authorized corporate officer. The corporate seal must be affixed.

Every talent agency must pay the following fees annually when a license is issued or renewed:

  • An annual license fee of $225 and a filing fee of $25 for a total of $250 for single-location businesses

  • Add $50 for each branch office maintained by the talent agency in California

Applicants can pay these fees online as part of the online application or by certified or cashier’s check or money order made payable to Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Register and Apply by Mail

If the applicant chooses/prefers to submit on paper by mail, he or she must download the application (Adobe Reader required) and do as follows:

Department of Industrial Relations

Division of Labor Standards Enforcement Licensing and Registration

1515 Clay St., Ste. 1902

Oakland, CA 94612

Advance-Fee Talent Representation Services

A similar type of service, subject to regulation by 2009 legislation, that branches off of talent agencies is advance-fee talent representation services. Advance-fee talent representation services refers to any company or person charging upfront fees to artists for services such as referrals to photographers and websites or for lessons, coaching, seminars, workshops, or similar trainings for an artist.

Fee-related talent service bonds in California are required by Section 1702 – 1702.4 of the Labor Code and ensure that principals (talent services) conduct business lawfully and ethically.

  • Fee-Related Talent Service Bond

    • The fee-related talent service bond is credit-based and priced at a 1% minimum rate. These are issued with one-year terms and are continuous until canceled.

SAG-AFTRA Talent Agency Bond

The SAG-AGTRA Franchised Talent Agency Surety Bond is a specific classification of commercial surety bonds required by the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, also known as SAG-AFTRA. To become this type of franchised talent agent in the talent agency industry, this bond is required.

SAG-AFTRA bonds in California are required by Section 1703(a)(3) of the Labor Code and ensure that the agency will represent SAG or AFTRA members rightfully and will protect its clients’ interests. This refers to the guarantee of the best working conditions, wages, and benefits for its members.

  •  SAG-AFTRA Surety Bond Form

    • The SAG-AFTRA bond ranging from $1,000 to $100,000 is credit-based and can cost a minimum of $200. These are issued with one-year terms and are continuous until canceled.

If your talent agency does not fit under above services, talent agencies can access the yearly lists of talent service bonds here.

How long is my license valid in California?

When should my license be renewed?

A California talent agency license is valid from the date of issuance to the date of the applicant’s next birthday. This is the duration period of license set by Labor Code Section 1700.10. Each license should then be renewed within the 30 days preceding the licensee’s birthday and shall run from birthday to birthday.

If the talent agency is a partnership, such license shall be renewed within the 30 days preceding the birthday of the oldest partner. If the agency is a corporation, such license shall be renewed within the 30 days preceding the anniversary of the date the corporation was lawfully formed. Renewal of a talent agency license requires the filing of an application for renewal, a renewal bond, and the payment of the annual license fee.

NOTE: The Labor Commissioner may demand that a new application or new bond be submitted.

Need a Surety Bond?

If you’re a California talent agency in search of a surety bond, call 1 (800) 308-4358 to talk to a surety professional or get a free, no-obligation quote.

Important Information and Instructions for New and Renewal Licenses

Laws Relating to Talent Agencies

Labor Code sections 1700 through 1700.47

California Code of Regulations sections 12000 through 12033

2009 Legislation: Fee-Related Talent Services and Advance Fee Talent

Summary tables of requirements and restrictions arranged by age and summary of penalties

Information on Minors and Employment

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