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Business Permits

The City of Rochester's Business Permit Program ensures that City businesses are operated safely and legally. Certain types of businesses are required to obtain a Business Permit before operating the business is allowed.

Businesses that require a permit

The following types of businesses are required to have a permit to operate.

  • Restaurants
  • Tobacco retailers, hookah lounges, and vaping stores
  • Bars
  • Automobile service facilities
  • Salons:
    • Hairdresser
    • Barber shop
    • Appearance enhancement
    • Tattoo parlor
    • Body piercing

Businesses that have the following RPD-issued license do not need to obtain a business permit.

  • Entertainment
  • Amusement
  • Second Hand Dealer
  • Pawn Broker

Chapter 90 Article II of the City Code. 

Apply for a new business permit

Drop off a completed application and check or money order at City Hall, Link Entrance, 30 Church St., NBD/Permit Drop Box. First, the application is reviewed by a Zoning Analyst for legal use in compliance with the Zoning Code and the New York State Building Code. If your proposed use complies with these codes, you will pay the non-refundable $25.00 application fee, payable to the "Rochester City Treasure".

Business Permit Application 

Application processing

After Zoning has approved the application and payment has been processed, the NSC Office will contact you by phone or email to provide the additional required documents listed below and to schedule a Good Neighbor Agreement teleconference.  You will need government Photo identification (New York State Driver's / Non-driver's License or United States Passport) of all people listed on your application. You may need to show proof of other licenses required by outside agencies including but not limited to:

  • Certificate of Authority
  • NYS Liquor License
  • NYS Tobacco Retailers License
  • NYS Vapor Product Dealer Certificate
  • Master Barber / Barbershop Owner / Cosmetology / Appearance Enhancement License
  • NYS DMV License (for auto sales, repairs, and inspection stations)
  • Department of Health Food Preparation Certificate

During the City's review of the application the following occur

  • 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 for all people listed on the application

If no issues are identified, the permit will be issued within 30 days of receipt. If an application is found to be incomplete, or cannot be processed due to 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 year, 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.

Business permit renewal

Permits must be renewed annually. You will receive a renewal application 30 to 60 days before the month in which your permit was originally issued. If you do not receive a renewal, contact your quadrant's neighborhood service center.

Review the renewal document. 

  • If the information remains the same or if changes include contact information updates for people on the application, make these changes and return the renewal document to your NSC office.
  • If there has been a change in the type, location, owner, or operator of the business, you must obtain a new business permit.

Renewals must be returned to one of the following locations at least 30 days before the expiration of the permit.

  • City Hall, Link Entrance at 30 Church St.
  • NBD permit office drop box 
  • NSC office drop box or
  • by mail to a location above 

After review of the renewal, the permit will be mailed to you within 30 days. If there are any concerns about the renewal, you will be notified within 30 days.

Applications received by the City within 30 days of receipt of the renewal notification will be processed free of charge. After 30 days, a $25.00 renewal fee will be charged.

Related Documents

Obtaining a Business Permit Brochure