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New Business License Process
Obtaining a New Business License

Zoning Compliance
Obtaining a new business license requires one to coordinate with the city’s Zoning Department to determine if the location you are considering for your business is zoned to accommodate that particular business activity. Prior to leasing, purchasing, or otherwise committing to a property, you are strongly encouraged to confirm that the zoning and physical layout of the building and site are appropriate for the use intended and will comply with the city’s ordinance.

Contact Zoning Department at (843) 724-3755 or by visiting the Permit Center located at 2 George Street. 

Tenant Improvements / Renovations
If you are proposing interior or exterior construction improvements to your business location, building permits may be required. Please inquire with the city’s Building Inspections Division prior to undertaking any construction or renovation work. Depending on the type of construction or renovation work being conducted or the property’s location, additional permits or approvals may be required.

Contact Building Inspections by email or by phone at (843) 724-7433.

Business License Certificate of Occupancy Application

Once you have determined that the location you have selected for your business complies with the city's zoning requirements, and you have obtained all necessary permits for construction improvements, you must apply for a City of Charleston business license by completing and submitting a Business License Certificate of Occupancy Application in person or by mail:

By Mail:
Revenue Collections Business License
P.O. Box 22009
Charleston, SC 29413-2009
     In Person:
     Revenue Collections           
     2 George St., Ste. 1700           
     Charleston, SC 29401

License Approval Requirements
The Business License Certificate of Occupancy process requires approvals from:
  • Zoning - Who will confirm that your property is zoned for your business’ particular use.
  • Fire Marshal Division - Who will conduct a fire safety inspection by reviewing the business activity and facility to help ensure minimum fire safety requirements have been achieved. A fire marshal will contact you to schedule an inspection. In order to expedite the process, each applicant will be required to complete a Fire Inspection Self Survey. Completed surveys are to be provided to the fire marshal at the time of inspection.
  • Building Inspections - Who will ensure that the structure is in compliance with all building codes and requirements and issue a certificate of occupancy.
  • Business License - to complete paperwork and assignment of NAICS codes based on business type.

Issuance of Business License
Once the Business License Certificate of Occupancy is approved, the Business License Division will contact you to assign your business a NAICS Code. Business license fees are based on the type of business and the projected gross income of the business for the balance of the calendar year. Once all fees are paid your business license will be issued.

Placement Certificate of Occupancy
The certificate of occupancy must be framed and posted within ten feet of the primary entry door, or approved alternate location, with the top of the frame measuring no higher than six feet above the floor and in immediate view of the public.

All signage in the City of Charleston requires Zoning and Building Inspections approval. Zoning staff will inform you if your signage requires additional approvals, such as the Board of Architectural Review.

Business License Assistance
For assistance with the Business License Certificate of Occupancy Process, please contact the Business License Division at (843) 724-3711.

If you would like help starting a business, please contact the city’s business services at (843) 724-7472. The Business Services Division works to promote and maintain a strong business climate throughout the City and to foster a healthy and sustainable economy for the benefit of all citizens. They offer one-on-one consultations as well as informational seminars to provide you with the assistance you might need or to help connect you with outside resources to start your business off on the right foot.

Information about the Late Night Establishment Permit Process

Late Night Establishment Permits 

Related Documents
Business License Certificate of Occupancy (BLCO) Overview
Business License Certificate of Occupancy (BLCO) Application
Numerical Business Classification Index
New Business License Application
Joshua Richards
Director Revenue Collections

2 George Street
Ste. 1700
Charleston, SC 29401

Ph: 843-724-3711
Fx: 843-720-3954