What's required to do business in New York City?

Select your business type for a summary of key steps for meeting government regulations when starting your business.

Use this roadmap for information about starting an auto repair shop in New York City.

Create a Business Plan

  • Develop your business idea. Every business starts as an idea. Take advantage of free Business Planning courses to translate your business idea into a business plan. LEARN MORE
  • Seek out advice. Get feedback on your business idea and plan. SBS offers hands-on, intensive instruction for your business plan and connects you with a business coach. LEARN MORE
  • Understand your industry. Each industry has different demands. If you are a NYCHA resident, SBS offers specific programs to help build a food or childcare business. LEARN MORE
  • Write your business plan. A business plan is a living document that serves as a roadmap for your business. Here is an online guide to create your business plan. LEARN MORE

Register Your Business

  • Choose a legal structure. This will determine who will own and be legally responsible for your business, and affects how you file your taxes.  Get free legal advice to help you choose your legal structure. LEARN MORE
  • Register your business. Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, and Limited Partnerships register with New York State.  General Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships register with the appropriate County Clerk.  Get free legal advice to help you file your paperwork. LEARN MORE
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number.  If you are a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number instead. Learn more
  • Register as a Sales Tax Vendor with the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance in order to sell products and services.  Apply early to avoid delays receiving other permits. Learn more
  • Research required insurance such as workers' compensation, liability, and disability insurance.  Some are needed for permits and licenses and protect you from loss, fines, and lawsuits.
  • Register to be a gas station with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and the NYC Fire Department. Learn more
  • Get a Secondhand Dealer General License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will buy or sell used goods. Learn more
  • Get a Cigarette Retail Dealer License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will sell cigarettes directly to consumers. Learn more

Finance Your Business

  • Determine your financing needs. To start your business, you will need money or capital to purchase equipment and run your operations. SBS can increase your chances of getting financing for your business. LEARN MORE
  • Understand your insurance. Managing risk is an essential part of your business. SBS can help you learn more about your insurance coverage and the claims process. LEARN MORE
  • Identify incentive programs. Your business can benefit from incentive programs that allow you to lower your cost of doing business. SBS can help you identify and access energy cost savings, tax credits and other incentives. LEARN MORE

Find and Plan Your Space

  • Find a location zoned for your business. Learn more
  • Get assistance in signing your lease. Before signing, talk to a lawyer to make sure the timing is right, the terms are legal, and the agreement is good for you.  Get free legal advice to complete a lease. LEARN MORE
  • Work with licensed professionals to plan any changes and to ensure that your space complies with building and fire codes.  Make sure your architect or contractor is licensed. Learn more
  • Ensure that your space has a Certificate of Occupancy or acceptable alternative from the NYC Department of Buildings that meets your business needs before you apply for licenses. Learn more
  • Professional Certification or "Pro-Cert" could save you weeks in receiving permits.  Pro-Cert allows a professional to self-certify projects without initial review from the NYC Department of Buildings.
  • Digital plan submissions and review save time.  Have your professionals use the NYC Development Hub, including for Pro-Cert.
  • Changes to a landmarked property or building in a historic district must be approved by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission before work can begin.  Allow time to receive approval. Learn more
  • Oil and water separators are required at repair garages where oily liquid waste is produced. Learn more
  • If your location will host events where 75 people or more will gather, you will need a Place of Assembly Permit. Learn more
  • Most property owners must install backflow prevention devices on each service line to protect the New York City water supply from contamination or pollution. Learn more
  • Limit air pollution. If you release fumes into the air, you are subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (also known as the "Air Code"). Learn more
  • Businesses that operate equipment or engage in activities regulated by the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (also known as the "Air Code") may be required to obtain an Air Permit. Learn more
  • Plan to limit noise from your establishment to avoid fines and do not play music in front of your business to attract customers. Learn more
  • Limit construction noise. You must create and post a noise mitigation plan to keep noises from bothering neighbors. Failure to do so can result in fines. Learn more
  • Free bike racks for the sidewalk outside your business can be requested from the NYC Department of Transportation. LEARN MORE
  • Hire a private carting service and set up your space to comply with commercial recycling rules. Learn more
  • Canopies must be approved by the property owners and the NYC Department of Transportation. LEARN MORE
  • Your construction should match what your business permits require. Make sure your licensed professional plans spaces and utilities connections to match the requirements of your business permits.
  • Consult your licensed professional about progress inspections and their cost, which may not be included in your project bid.
  • Accelerate the plan review process for new buildings or major alterations that change a building’s egress by directing your licensed professional to submit digital plans to the NYC Department of Buildings Hub. LEARN MORE
  • To protect public air quality, businesses must get a work permit and certificate to operate, and/or registration for boilers, water heaters and industrial equipment. Please note that boilers, water heaters, and multiple dryers (for laundromats) must be registered with DEP only if they have a rated input of greater than 350,000 but less than 4.2 million BTUs/hour. Learn more
  • If your business intends to demolish a building or structure, you must obtain a Registration for Demolition from the NYC Department of Environmental Protection ten days before starting demolition activities Learn more
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Prepare to Open

  • Schedule your pre-operational inspections with the City, including NYC Department of Health (DOH) and NYC Fire Department (FDNY). LEARN MORE
  • Avoid common violations and fines. SBS offers free compliance consultations that can save you time and money. LEARN MORE
  • Research specific requirements. Make sure you and your employees have all permits and licenses applicable to your business.  Use Step by Step, a tool that helps you build a customized list of requirements.
    Start the Step by Step Tool
  • Register with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles if you plan to open a repair or auto body shop. LEARN MORE
  • Register as a repair garage with the NYC Fire Department every year. LEARN MORE
  • To serve alcohol, you will need to apply for an On-Premises Liquor License.  Start the application early. Learn more
  • Obtain a repair shop license from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles if you will offer services such as tire rotation and oil changes. Learn more
  • Certify as an inspection station.  You must register to conduct NY State vehicle inspections.  The state limits the number of certified shops, so you may be placed on a waiting list. Learn more
  • Get permits and limit air pollution.  If you release fumes into the air, you may be subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (Air Code). Learn more
  • Tax new tires and recycle old ones.  You must pay a tax on every tire sold, accept used tires for recycling, and post information about the law.
    Learn more
  • Set-up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a DSNY training and download or order educational materials. LEARN MORE
  • Light fuel, such as charcoal and wood, must be stored carefully and in small amounts. Ingredients and equipment, such as alcohol and open flames, will affect which permits and licenses you need.
  • Signs, if nailed or screwed into the building or if illuminated, must be approved by NYC Department of Buildings. LEARN MORE
  • The Department of Environmental Protection has many permit and non-permit environmental compliance requirements. LEARN MORE
  • If you are opening or currently operating an auto body or auto repair shop, please review DEP's Smart Auto Body, Auto Repair and Dismantling Guide (PDF). LEARN MORE
  • Mechanically-assisted tailpipe exhaust systems require a Work Permit and Certificate of Operation from NYC Department of Environmental Protection, unless used exclusively for the NYS Vehicle Inspection System. Please note that this requirement is only applicable to auto repair shops and gas stations with auto repair shops. Link is a PDF. LEARN MORE
  • Hazardous materials above threshold amounts must be registered under NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Right-to-Know program. Many common materials such as paint, solvents, inks, pool chemicals, and cleaning products can have hazardous characteristics. Learn more
  • Get a Tow Truck Company License from NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if your business will tow vehicles for profit within New York City. Learn more
  • Post applicable worker protection posters. Follow Federal as well as New York State requirements. LEARN MORE
  • Post prices, refund policy, and other required signs from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs. LEARN MORE
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Hire a Team

  • Recruit talented staff that will contribute to the success of your business. NYC Department of Small Business Services can help you save time and money. LEARN MORE
  • Train your employees, so that your team has the skills your business needs. LEARN MORE
  • Clarify your unemployment insurance requirements. Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. Learn more
  • Clarify your workers' compensation insurance requirements. Contact the New York State Department of Labor for more information. Learn more
  • Make sure employees have a Commercial Driver License from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles if they will operate commercial vehicles. Learn more
  • Make sure employees have a Welder License from the Department of Buildings if they will be engaging in welding. Learn more
  • Be sure to comply with all applicable laws involving employee wages, including living wage, sick leave, and transit benefits. LEARN MORE
  • Make sure employees have a Tow Truck Driver License from the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs if they will drive tow trucks. Learn more

Open and Operate

  • Display licenses and required posters.
  • Give customers clear receipts.  Show prices and print your business name and address on your invoices and receipts. Learn more
  • Prepare and pay your taxes
  • Tax new tires and recycle old ones.  You must pay a tax on every tire sold, accept used tires for recycling, and post information about the law.
  • Give customers clear invoices.  Show prices and print your business name and address.
  • Get permits and limit air pollution. If you release fumes into the air, you may be subject to the New York City Air Pollution Control Code (Air Code).
  • Hazardous materials must be registered with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.  Many common materials, like spray paint, are hazardous at large quantities.
  • All vehicles may only idle as permitted or face fines. As a general rule of thumb, no person should allow the engine of a motor vehicle to idle for longer than three minutes while parking, unless it is an authorized emergency motor vehicle, or a vehicle using an engine to operate a loading device. The legal idling time is reduced to one minute if the vehicle is parked adjacent to a school facility. Learn more
  • Watch for asbestos. A licensed asbestos investigator must determine if asbestos is present, and if so then a licensed abatement contractor must contain it and give notice to NYC Department of Environmental Protection before you can demolish or renovate the structure. Learn more

Learn which permits, licenses and regulations matter to you

Use the Step by Step Tool to get an exhaustive list of requirements that matter to you.

  • It takes 15 minutes or less to complete
  • You can save your results to access later.
  • A comprehensive list of licenses and permits to start and operate your business
  • Avoid Violations, Fines, or Complaints