Do I need a business permit?
The following types of businesses require a Business Permit:
Please note that businesses that hold the following other types of City licenses DO NOT have to obtain a Business Permit:
Although these businesses do not need business permits, they do have licensure requirements which can be found in the License Requirements section below.
How do I obtain a business permit?
Submit a business permit application You first need to visit the Permit Office at City Hall and obtain an approval verifying that your new business is in compliance with Zoning. You will need to pay your $25 application fee at that time. Your application will be given back to you to submit by appointment to the business Neighborhood Service Center. You can also obtain or apply for new signage permits at the Permit Office.
Good Neighbor Agreement & Other Documentation After these code approvals and fee payment, your local NSC Office will contact you by phone or email to schedule a Good Neighbor Agreement teleconference and to obtain the following:
- Government photo identification (NYS Driver's/Non-driver's License or United States Passport) for all persons listed on your application.
- Copies of all applicable licenses required to operate your business. These may include, but are not limited to the following:
Certificate of Authority
NYS Liquor License
NYS Tobacco Retailers License
NYS Vapor Product Dealer Certificate
Master Barber/Barber shop Owner/Cosmetology/Appearance Enhancement License
NYS DMV License (for auto sales, repairs, and inspection stations)
Department of Health Food Preparation Certificate
Complete Good Neighbor Agreement
Tax & Criminal Records Checks The City will perform a record check with New York State for any outstanding tax liability information. The City will also perform a criminal records check on all persons listed on your application.
Receive Business Permit Assuming the background checks clear, the Business Permit will be issued within 30 days.
If an application is found to be incomplete, or cannot be processed due to background check issues, the applicant will be notified in writing within 30 days. If there is sufficient cause for concern on the part of the City of Rochester regarding the operation of the business, the owner/applicant may be offered a Conditional Business Permit.
Business Permits are valid for one (1) year only, provided that there is no change in the type, location, owner(s), operator(s), or partner(s) in the business, or if there is no other cause for the permit to be suspended or revoked.
Entertainment Businesses License Requirements
In order to maintain or operate a public entertainment center within the City of Rochester, you must obtain an entertainment center license.
You can apply for a public entertainment center license or a limited entertainment center license with the City Clerk. The application can be found here.
About the Application Process
It should contain the name and address of the owner and operator of the entertainment center. If the owner or operator is a partnership, corporation, or other business association, the application should contain the names and home addresses of all partners, officers, or principals. The application must contain the address of the public or limited entertainment center and the type of entertainment to be offered.
The premises must meet all applicable Zoning, Building, Fire, Health and Safety Codes. Upon receipt of the application, and after Zoning Code compliance approval by the Director of Planning and Zoning, the Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development and the Fire Chief will inspect the premises to determine whether the applicant is complying with the applicable Building and Fire Codes. The Commissioner and Fire Chief and members of their staff shall have the right to enter any premises for which the license is sought for the purpose of making such an inspection during normal business hours.
Amusement Businesses License Requirements
In order to maintain or operate an amusement center within the City of Rochester, you must obtain an amusement center license.
You can apply for an amusement center license with the City Clerk on forms prescribed by the Chief of Police. The form can be found here.
About the Application Process
Upon receipt of the application, and after approval for Zoning Code compliance by the Manager of Zoning, the Commissioner of Neighborhood and Business Development and the Fire Chief will inspect the premises to determine whether the applicant is complying with the laws and ordinances which they are charged with enforcing. The Commissioner and Fire Chief and members of their staff shall have the right to enter any premises for which an amusement center license is sought for the purpose of making such an inspection during normal business hours.
Additionally, the Chief of Police will inspect the premises to determine whether public safety problems exist. The Chief of Police will also conduct background checks on the owner and the operator of the center. The Chief of Police and his or her representatives shall have the right to enter the premises for the purpose of making such inspections during normal business hours. Further inspections of the premises may be made after a license has been issued to ensure compliance with laws and ordinances relating to amusement centers.
Second-Hand Dealer Businesses License Requirements
In order to operate a secondhand dealership, you must obtain a license from the Chief of Police.
You can apply for a secondhand dealer's license with the City Clerk, on forms provided by the Chief of Police. The application can be found here.
About the Application Process
The application includes relevant information relating to the owner and operator, if any, of the business to be conducted at the premises and names and dates of birth of all employees. Where the owner is not directly involved with the day-to-day operation of said business, the operator must also be included on the application. If a partnership, corporation or other business entity is involved, the application must designate an operator who is involved in the day-to-day operation of the business. In this situation, the secondhand dealer's license shall be issued to the operator; the names, addresses and phone numbers of the partners, officers or principals shall be listed on the application. The application must also include the legal address of the premises where such business is to be carried out, and whether the applicant or any officer and operator has previously been involved in the purchase or sale of secondhand goods and, if so, the name of the business, its location and the dates of involvement. The application must be signed and sworn to before a notary public or other official authorized to administer oaths in the City.
Upon receipt of the application, and after approval for Zoning Code compliance by the Director of Buildings and Zoning, the Chief of Police will inspect the business premises to determine whether public safety problems exist. The Chief of Police will also conduct background checks on the owner and the operator of the business. . The Chief of Police and his or her representatives shall have the right to enter the premises during normal business hours for the purpose of making inspections. Further inspections of the premises may be made after a license has been issued to ensure compliance with the laws, ordinances and rules and regulations relating to secondhand businesses. The Chief of Police shall also have the authority to seek warrants where they are constitutionally required.
Pawn Broker Businesses License Requirements
The Chief of Police is the licensing authority authorized to issue licenses for collateral loan brokers as defined in Article 5 of the New York State General Business Law, hereinafter referred to as "pawnbrokers."
The application for a pawnbroker license can be found here. Licenses expire on May 31 after their date of issuance.
The annual license fee is $250. There is a fee of $10 for the replacement of a lost license.
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