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What's required to do business in New York City?

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Create a Business Plan
Register Your Business
  • Choose a legal structure. This will determine who will own and be legally responsible for your business and affects how you file your taxes. GET FREE ADVICE ON LEGAL STRUCTURES

  • Register your business. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, and Limited Partnerships register with New York State. General Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships register with the appropriate County Clerk. GET FREE LEGAL ADVICE

  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number. If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead. LEARN MORE ABOUT EIN

  • Register as a Sales Tax Vendor with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance in order to sell products and services.  Apply early to avoid delays receiving other permits. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SALES TAX VENDOR CERTIFICATE
  • Research required insurance such as workers' compensation, liability, and disability insurance.  Some are needed for permits and licenses and protect you from loss, fines, and lawsuits.
  • Get a Secondhand Dealer General License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will buy or sell used goods. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE SECONDHAND DEALER GENERAL LICENSE
  • Get a Stoop Line Stand License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will sell fruits, vegetables, soft drinks, flowers, confectionery, or ice cream from a stand outside and directly next to an existing store. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STOOP LINE STAND LICENSE
Finance Your Business
  • Determine your financing needs. To start your business, you will need money or capital to purchase equipment and run your operations. Increase your chances of getting financing for your business.

  • Understand your insurance needs, such as workers' compensation, liability, and disability insurance. Some are needed for permits and licenses and protect you from loss, fines, and lawsuits. Managing risk is an essential part of your business. LEARN MORE ABOUT INSURANCE

  • Identify incentive programs. Your business can benefit from programs that allow you to lower your cost of doing business. SBS can help you identify and access energy cost savings, tax credits, and other incentives. LEARN MORE ABOUT INCENTIVES

Find, Plan, and Build Out Your Space
  • Find a location zoned for your business, and at the legally required distance from a school or place of worship if you plan to serve alcohol. Your business location and the opinion of the local Community Board will be reviewed for your liquor license application. LEARN MORE ABOUT ZONING REQUIREMENTS

  • Learn more about zoning in your neighborhood with the Department of City Planning's ZoLa map. USE THE ZOLA MAP
  • Learn about facilities and program sites in your prospective neighborhood that might impact your business on the Department of City Planning's Facilities Explorer. USE THE FACILITIES EXPLORER

  • Get help understanding and signing your lease. Before signing, talk to a lawyer to make sure the timing is right, the terms are legal, and the agreement is good for you. GET FREE COMMERCIAL LEASE ASSISTANCE THROUGH SBS

  • Review your building plans for major and minor construction within your space. The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers free plan examinations, and experienced client managers can help you navigate the process. GET HELP WITH PLAN EXAMINATIONS
  • Plan your food establishment design. Select and engage architect(s), general contractor(s), and/or interior and kitchen designers to plan any changes and ensure that your space complies with building and fire codes. Make sure your architect and/or contractor is licensed.

  • Confirm there is an existing Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and that it allows for your proposed business operation in the space. An amended C of O may be required if there is a change in use, egress, or type of occupancy. For buildings built or altered prior to 1938 when a C of O was not required at that time, a Letter of No Objection may be issued to confirm the legal use of the building. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

  • Professional Certification or "Pro-Cert" could save you weeks in receiving permits. Pro-Cert allows a professional to self-certify projects without initial review from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). LEARN MORE ABOUT PRO-CERT

  • Digitally plan submissions and review save time. Have your professionals use the NYC Development Hub, including for Pro-Cert. VISIT THE NYC DEVELOPMENT HUB

  • Changes to a landmarked property or building in a historic district must be approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) before work can begin. LPC has a Business Express Service that serves as a one-stop shop for business owners in landmark buildings, making it easier for them to get their permits. LEARN MORE ABOUT WORK ON LANDMARKED PROPERTIES

  • If your location will host events where 75 people or more will gather, you will need a Place of Assembly Permit. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PLACE OF ASSEMBLY PERMIT

  • Property owners must install an approved backflow prevention device on every water service pipe that has a connection between the drinking water supply and a potential source of contamination.

  • Follow the Noise Code, limit construction noise, plan to limit noise from your establishment to avoid fines, and do not play music in front of your business to attract customers. You must create and post a noise mitigation plan to keep noises from bothering neighbors. Failure to do so can result in fines. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NOISE CODE

  • Limit construction noise. You must create and post a noise mitigation plan to keep noises from bothering neighbors. Failure to do so can result in fines. LEARN ABOUT CONSTRUCTION NOISE REGULATIONS
  • Hire a private carting service and set up your space to comply with commercial recycling rules. LEARN MORE ABOUT HIRING A PRIVATE CARTER
  • Canopies must be approved by the property owners and the NYC Department of Transportation. LEARN MORE ABOUT CANOPY APPROVAL
  • Your construction should match what your business permits require. Make sure your licensed professional plans spaces and utilities connections to match the requirements of your business permits.
  • Consult your licensed professional about progress inspections and their cost, which may not be included in your project bid.
  • Accelerate the plan review process for new buildings or major alterations that change a building’s egress by directing your licensed professional to submit digital plans to the NYC Department of Buildings Hub. USE THE HUB
  • To protect public air quality, businesses must get a work permit and certificate to operate, and/or registration for boilers, water heaters and industrial equipment. Please note that boilers, water heaters, and multiple dryers (for laundromats) must be registered with DEP only if they have a rated input of greater than 350,000 but less than 4.2 million BTUs/hour. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE AIR CODE
  • If your business intends to demolish a building or structure, you must obtain a Registration for Demolition from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection ten days before starting demolition activities. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE REGISTRATION FOR DEMOLITION FORM
Prepare to Open
  • Schedule your pre-operational inspections with the NYC Fire Department (FDNY). SCHEDULE PRE-OPERATIONAL INSPECTIONS

  • Avoid common violations and fines. SBS offers free compliance consultations that can save you time and money. GET HELP WITH LICENSES AND PERMITS
  • Learn about the Federal, State, and City requirements and the permits your business will need by using the STEP BY STEP TOOL.

  • Set-up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) training and download or order educational materials. ATTEND A TRAINING

  • Business signs, if nailed or screwed into the building or if illuminated, must be approved by NYC Department of Buildings. LEARN MORE ABOUT SIGNS

  • The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has many permit and non-permit environmental compliance requirements. LEARN MORE ABOUT DEP REQUIREMENTS
  • Post applicable worker protection posters. Follow Federal as well as New York State requirements. DOWNLOAD POSTERS
  • Post prices, refund policy, and other required signs from the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. LEARN MORE ABOUT POSTING AND SIGNAGE REQUIREMENTS

Hire a Team
  • The minimum wage for all employees in New York City is $15.00 per hour starting December 31, 2019. Businesses that violate this law will be punished. LEARN MORE ABOUT MINIMUM WAGE
  • Recruit talented staff that will contribute to the success of your business. NYC Department of Small Business Services can help you save time and money. GET HELP HIRING A TEAM
  • Train your employees, so that your team has the skills your business needs. LEARN MORE ABOUT EMPLOYEE TRAINING
  • Clarify your unemployment insurance requirements. Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. LEARN ABOUT UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
  • Clarify your workers' compensation insurance requirements. Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. LEARN ABOUT WORKERS' COMPENSATION INSURANCE
  • Be sure to comply with all applicable laws involving employee wages, including living wage, sick leave, and transit benefits. LEARN MORE ABOUT WAGE LAWS
Open and Operate
  • Display licenses and required posters.
  • Give customers clear receipts.  Show prices and print your business name and address on your invoices and receipts.
  • Prepare and pay your taxes.  LEARN ABOUT TAXES IN NYC
  • Hazardous materials above threshold amounts must be registered under NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Right-to-Know program. Many common materials such as paint, solvents, inks, pool chemicals, and cleaning products can have hazardous characteristics. LEARN MORE ABOUT RIGHT-TO-KNOW
  • All vehicles may only idle as permitted or face fines. As a general rule of thumb, no person should allow the engine of a motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, unless it is an authorized emergency motor vehicle, or a vehicle using an engine to operate a loading device. The legal idling time is reduced to one minute if the vehicle is parked adjacent to a school facility. LEARN MORE ABOUT IDLING REGULATIONS
  • Watch for asbestos. A licensed asbestos investigator must determine if asbestos is present, and if so then a licensed abatement contractor must contain it and give notice to NYC Department of Environmental Protection before you can demolish or renovate the structure. LEARN MORE ABOUT ASBESTOS RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • Train your employees on sexual harassment prevention. You must do so under state law. LEARN MORE ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING