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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. 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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Listed below are contact numbers for each City facility:
- Gaillard Auditorium (843) 577-7400 - Dock Street Theatre (843) 720-3968 - Visitor Center (843) 724-7174 - Old Slave Mart Museum (843) 958-6467 - Angel Oak Park (843) 559-3496 - Maritime Center (843) 853-3625 - Old Exchange Building (843) 727-2165
Contact the Revenue Collections Division at (843) 724-7311 with questions or for more information.
To determine the zoning of a particular property you can visit the Zoning Office at 75 Calhoun St. on the Third Floor Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5:00pm or call them at 843-724-3781. Zoning Division Website
A license from the State of South Carolina is also required to sell alcoholic beverages for either on-premises (restaurant) or off-premises (liquor store) consumption.
Contact South Carolina Department of Revenue – Alcohol Beverage Licensing Division at (803) 898-5864 or online.
Approval of a Home Occupation remains in effect as long as you remain at the same location and meet all of the conditions set forth in the City’s Zoning Ordinance, Section 54-211. Should you move and relocate within the City of Charleston, you will be required to reapply for Home Occupation approval. Home Occupation approval can be revoked if it is found that any of the conditions of the Home Occupation requirements are being violated.
Approval Process for a Home Occupation
Step 1: Complete and submit to the Revenue Collections – Business License Division an original Home Occupation Application. Forms may be submitted via hand delivery or by mail.
Step 2: The Revenue Collections – Business License Division will process the application and verify zoning, fire, and building code approvals.
Step 3: Once all approvals have been received, the Revenue Collections – Business License Division will complete the general information on a Business License Application and return the application to the applicant.
Step 4: Applicant must sign the Business License Application and submit the original application and the appropriate business license fees to the Revenue Collections - Business License Division. Home Occupation Form
To vend food from a truck on private property you must first obtain written approval from the owner of the property. You will then apply for a new Business License CO and include the written approval of the property owner with your submittal. A Business License CO is required for all businesses and non-profits 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. A Business License CO application process is an opportunity for the City to confirm that your proposed use is permitted in the property’s zoning district and that the structure meets applicable building and fire code requirements. Please submit your application to Revenue Collections – Business License Office. The office will then forward the application to Zoning, Fire Marshal, and Building Inspections Divisions for review. These Divisions may contact you with questions regarding your application and to schedule necessary inspections. Note: Any business serving food requires a SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) permit and inspection. Contact the SCDHEC Food Protection Division at (803) 896-0640 or www.scdhec.gov.
Please confirm that garage or yard sales do not violate your neighborhood covenants. This only applies if you are located in a neighborhood with covenants or deed restrictions.
Do not block the public Right-Of-Way, such as streets or sidewalks with merchandise.
Do not negatively impact the flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic on public Right-Of-Ways.
No signs may be posted off-premises.
Do not nail or place signs on trees, utility poles, sign posts, parkway or other city property. It is permissible to place a sign in your own vehicle, but it must be properly parked on the street to advertise your sale. Advertising in a newspaper is a good alternative.
One single-face sign, not larger than 2-feet by 3-feet, may be posted on the premises where a sale is being conducted for the duration of the sale and must be removed immediately thereafter.