Business Permits

Business Permit Program 

The City of Rochester's Business Permit Program is designed to ensure that City businesses are operated safely and legally. Certain types of businesses are required to obtain a Business Permit, and as with all businesses, must maintain good order on the business premise and obey the codes and laws of the City of Rochester and the State of New York. 

Who Needs a Business Permit?

The following types of businesses requiring a Business Permit include:

  • Restaurants
  • Tobacco Retailers, Hookah Lounges, and Vaping Stores
  • Bars
  • Automobile Service Facilities
  • Salons:
    • Hairdresser
    • Barber Shop
    • Appearance Enhancement
    • Tattoo Parlor
    • Body Piercing

Please note that businesses that hold the following other types of City licenses do not have to obtain a Business Permit:

  • Entertainment
  • Amusement
  • Second Hand Dealer
  • Pawn Broker

Further detailed information on the Business Permit program can be found in Chapter 90 Article II of the City Code. 

Applying for a New Business Permit

Complete a Business Permit Application.  

Drop your initialized and completed hard copy application and check or money order fee payment off at CITY HALL, LINK ENTRANCE, 30 Church St., NBD/PERMIT OFFICE'S DROP BOX, your Business Permit application will be reviewed for legal use compliance under the Zoning Code and the New York State Building Code. If your proposed use is in compliance with these codes, you will pay the non-refundable $25.00 application fee, payable to the "Rochester City Treasure" at that time.

Application Processing

After obtaining New York State Building Code and Rochester Zoning Code approval and paying the non-refundable $25.00 application fee, YOUR local NSC Office will next contact you by phone or email to provide the additionally required documents listed below AND schedule a Good Neighbor Agreement teleconference.  You will need government Photo identification (NYS Driver's / Non-driver's License or United States Passport) of all persons listed on your application is required. FAILURE TO INCLUDE COPIES OF REQUIRED DOCUMENTS WILL DELAY PROCESSING. Copies of all applicable licenses required to operate your business are also required and may include, but 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

The following procedures are part of the application processing:

  • A Good Neighbor Agreement (GNA) will be created
  • A record check with New York State will be made for any outstanding tax liability information
  • A criminal records check is conducted on all persons listed on your application

If no issues of concern are identified, the Business Permit will be issued within 30 days of receipt. If an application is found to be incomplete, or cannot be processed due to the unresolved concerns, 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.


Renewing a Business Permit:

You will automatically receive a renewal application thirty (30) to sixty (60) days prior to the month in which your Business Permit was originally granted. If you do not receive a renewal, please contact your local Neighborhood Service Center.

Please carefully review the renewal document. If all information for your business remains the same or if there is only a change in address or phone number of persons listed, please make any necessary changes and return to your NSC office. If there has been a change in the type, location, owner or operator of the business, a new Business Permit Application is required.

Your Business Permit renewal must be returned to CITY HALL, LINK ENTRANCE, 30 Church St., NBD/PERMIT OFFICE OR NSC OFFICES' DROP BOXES  OR VIA U.S. Mail a minimum of thirty (30) days before expiration of your current Business Permit. Once received, your renewal application will be reviewed by City staff and if no issues are identified, your Business Permit renewal will be granted and mailed to you within thirty (30) days. If the City finds cause for concern regarding the operator of your business, you will be notified by the City within thirty (30) days.

Applications received by the City within thirty (30) days of receipt of the renewal notification will be processed free of charge. After thirty (30) days, the application must be accompanied by a $25.00 renewal fee.

Related Documents

Business Permit Application 
Instructions for Submission 
 "Obtaining a Business Permit" brochure




Additional Questions/Information

Please contact your local Neighborhood Service Center if you have additional questions or concerns; they will be happy to assist you.

The documents above require the free Adobe Reader