Late Night Establishment Permit Application

Late Night Entertainment Establishments (LNEs) are defined as: 

Any bar, restaurant, venue, or commercial establishment, that currently allows on-premises consumption of beer, wine, or alcohol, and remains open after midnight located within the city. This includes hotel accommodations.

If your existing or new business meets the above criteria, you need to complete the LNE Permitting Process.

LNE Permit Process Overview Flowchart Opens in new window

LNE Operational Permit:

LNE Permitting Process

  1. If your establishment is located within 500 feet of a residential zoning district (if not, skip to step 2): 
    1. Apply for a Late Night Use Special Exception from the Board of Zoning Appeals – Zoning (BZA-Z). This can be done by filling out the BZA-Z Application and submitting all required documentation. Anyone applying for a Late Night Use Special Exception should contact the Zoning Division prior to an application being submitted:
    2. ZONING MAP: Use our interactive zoning map here to look up your property, its zoning, and overlay zones (if applicable). Use the measure tool in the City’s interactive Mapnet to determine proximity to a residential zoning district. 
    3. Verify zoning district and conditions: An LNE may be permitted within 500 feet of a residential zoning district if the LNE is within one of the following zoning districts and satisfies all the conditions in Zoning Code Sec. 54-206-y (documentation required):
  1. Apply for both a Business License Certificate of Occupancy (BLCO) and an LNE Operational Permit. An LNE Permit will not be granted until a BLCO has been processed. It is recommended that you submit these applications at least 30 days before your planned opening for late-night use.
    1. Submit an LNE Operational Permit Application through CSS. (LNE permits must be renewed every 2 years.) Applications received after 4 PM will not be considered until the next business day. Applicants will need to provide the following information (You can also refer to this LNE Permit Checklist.): 
      1. Contact information for property owners, business owners, management staff, and other emergency contacts.
      2. Security & Management PlanA plan describing days and hours of operation, crowd management, and the ratio of security personnel to occupants. For questions about the Security Plan, contact: Lt. Corey Taylor, Charleston Police Department - or (843) 720-3924.
      3. Preventing Underage Drinking Plan Implement a plan by 10:00 pm to ensure that appropriate ID checks are conducted to verify patrons are 21 years of age or older.
      4. Fire Safety & Emergency Action (FSEA) Plan: Establishments may create their own Fire Safety and Emergency Action plans, or they may utilize the guide, template, and training resources offered by the Charleston Fire Marshal’s Division. For questions about the Fire Safety Plan, contact: Rick Fluegge, Fire Marshal Division - or (843)-724-5893
      5. Site Plan (instructions on creating a site plan here)
      6. Floor Plan
      7. Business License/Certificate of Occupancy 
    2. Schedule & pass a Fire Marshal inspection. 
    3. Pay and pick up the permit. 

Intellicheck ID Verification:

Intellicheck is continuing to partner with the city of Charleston offering their ID verification software at discounted rates to all Charleston business owners. 

LNE Ordinance:

Beginning December 13, 2022, any new business must apply for an LNE permit under the new LNE ordinance. Existing LNEs must come into compliance with the new ordinance and reapply for an LNE Operational Permit by February 13, 2023. Review this LNE 1 Pager document for an overview of the new ordinance.

Other Documents

  • At the September 13, 2022 meeting of City Council, changes to the ordinance governing Late Night Establishments (LNEs) were approved. (That meeting's discussion and vote can be watched on the City's YouTube.)