Quick Guides


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

Select your business type for a summary of key steps for meeting government regulations when starting your business.

Use this roadmap for information about starting a general retail store in New York City.

Create a Business Plan

  • Seek out advice. Get feedback on your business idea and plan. SBS offers hands-on, intensive instruction for your business plan and connects you with a business coach. SIGN UP FOR CLASSES

Register Your Business

  • 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

  • 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 an Electronic and Home Appliance Service Dealer License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business plans to repair or service electronic equipment or home appliances. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE LICENSE

Finance 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
  • 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
  • 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. 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 before work can begin.  Allow time to receive approval. LEARN MORE ABOUT WORK ON LANDMARKED PROPERTIES
  • Limit air pollution. If you release fumes into the air, you are subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (also known as the "Air Code"). LEARN ABOUT THE AIR CODE
  • Limit air pollution.  On-site dry cleaners must have a Certificate to Operate from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. LEARN ABOUT AIR PERMITS
  • Plan to limit noise from your establishment to avoid fines and do not play music in front of your business to attract customers. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NOISE CODE
  • Free bike racks for the sidewalk outside your business can be requested from the NYC Department of Transportation. LEARN MORE ABOUT BIKE RACKS
  • 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
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Prepare to Open

  • Learn about the Federal, State, and City requirements and the permits your business will need by using the STEP BY STEP TOOL.

  • Scales for weighing items for sale by weight must pass inspection before use. Schedule an inspection before you open. LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPECTIONS
  • Set-up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a 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

  • Post applicable worker protection posters. Follow Federal as well as New York State requirements. DOWNLOAD POSTERS

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
  • 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.
  • 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

Learn which permits, licenses, and regulations matter to you

Use the Step by Step Tool to get an exhaustive list of requirements that matter to you.

  • 10 Minutes or less

    It takes the average person about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

  • Avoid Fines & Complaints

    It takes the average person about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

  • Resources and Incentives

    Many businesses qualify for money-saving incentive programs. For some incentive programs, you can try the Incentives Estimator to provide dollar-value estimates of the benefit that you might receive.