What permits or approvals are required to open a restaurant?

A Business License Certificate of Occupancy is required for all restaurants that are located within City limits. Applications can be obtained online or from the Revenue Collections – Business License Office, which is located in the Permit Center at 2 George Street. 

External approvals that may be required to open a restaurant include: 

  • Any business serving food requires a Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) permit and inspection. Contact the SCDHEC Food Protection Division at (803) 896-0640 or online. 
  • A license from the state of South Carolina is required if you intend to sell or serve alcoholic beverages. Contact South Carolina Department of Revenue’s Alcohol Beverage Licensing Division at (803)898-5864. 
  • Charleston Water Systems (CWS) requires the installation of a grease trap for all businesses that prepare food. CWS will determine the size needed for your establishment. Click here to learn more.
  • CWS also requires payment of impact fees. Fees are assessed based on the number of patron seating. Please contact CWS at WasteWaterInspectors@charlestoncpw.com
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1. Can I vend food from a truck on City streets?
2. Can I rent a city-owned facility for a private function?
3. What are franchise fees on my electric and cable bills?
4. Do I need a business license to conduct business in the City of Charleston?
5. How do I determine if my business is allowed at the location I selected?
6. What permits or approvals are required to open a restaurant?
7. What permits or approvals, other than a business license certificate of occupancy, do I need to sell alcoholic beverages for on-site or off-site consumption?
8. What city regulations apply to operating a business within my home?
9. Can I vend food from a truck on private property?
10. Is a permit or license required by the City for a garage or yard sale?