Apply For A Business License Rochester, New York

For Rochester, New York, is a business license or a permit required?

Yes, but only for certain business types and activities. The City of Rochester mandates prospective business owners to obtain a business permit or license.

All business owners are obligated to complete the Certificate of Occupancy Application and submit it to the Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development. They will then inspect your business property and ensure its safety and compliance for your business type. The required Certificate of Occupancy is found at Rochester Occupancy Certificate, where you may print it, complete it, and then submit it to City Hall. For full details of what the City of Rochester offers, visit their webpage at: Rochester City Website.

The following business services require permits in order to lawfully operate within the City of Rochester limits, the city definitions are also included:

Automobile Service Facilities 

A premise where motor vehicles are sold, leased, repaired or serviced, and include gasoline stations and car washes 


A premise where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premise


A premise where prescription drugs are sold at retail, together with dry goods, food or beverages

Food Store

A premise in which 50% or more of its sales area is devoted to the sale of food and beverage items to be consumed off the premise


A premise where washing machines and dryers are available for public use 


A premise where food and/or beverages are sold to be consumed on the premise

Retail Store

Any business that is accessible to the public where goods, merchandise or equipment are sold, rented or leased at retail (excludes non-for-profit businesses)


An establishment, other than home occupation, where a hairdresser, barber or beautician conducts their trade, or a body piercing or tattoo studio

What is the first step to take for a Rochester NY business?

The first item that you will need to complete is to find the location in which you will operate your business from. You can contact the Planning and Zoning Department for a complete list of every space that is currently available. Furthermore, they will advise you if your proposed business is suitable for the location. This will aid in eliminating much possible frustration. Please call them at (585) 428-7091. Remember, the Certificate of Occupancy is found at Rochester Occupancy Certificate.

What cost can be expected to obtain a business license or business permit in Rochester, NY?

Some of the costs are published online, some are not. Licenses and permits for the City of Rochester begin at $25 and can go up to $1,000. Therefore, for an estimate you must call the City of Rochester City Clerk’s Office at (585) 428-6617.

What information will be needed to submit a business license application or permit in Rochester?

Information required on the application may include: applicant name, permanent address, business address in town, date of birth, driver license number, nature of business, description of goods to be sold, name(s) of employer or employees, address of employer and employees, driver’s license for each employee, dates of solicitation (if applicable), alcohol type being served and sold (if applicable), whether you receive or accept deposit or total payment in advance of final delivery, State Sales and Use Tax Permit, signatures of applicant and business owners including the dates.

Where can you apply for a Rochester business license and permit?

Some of the licenses and permits are available and can be found at Rochester Business Licenses. However, some can only be obtained in person at:

City of Rochester
Permits and Licenses
City Hall, Room 301A
30 Church Street
Rochester, NY 14614
(585) 428-6617

Are there any additional questions or concerns about business licenses in Rochester?

Please call the City of Rochester City Clerk at (585) 428-6617. Please note that the hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, permits are not issued after 4:30 p.m. each day. The City Clerk Office is located at:

City of Rochester
Permits and Licenses
City Hall, Room 301A
30 Church Street
Rochester, NY 14614

You may additionally visit the website at Rochester Permits and Licenses. There is information that the City of Rochester has created that provides step-by-step guidance for new business owners. The City of Rochester Department of Neighborhood and Business Development recommends that all new business owners read their webpages completely as many questions can be answered simply by reading. You may visit the website at Rochester New Business.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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