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.

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.

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
  • 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
  • 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

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
  • Review your building plans for major and minor construction within your space. The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) offers free plan examinations, and experienced client managers can help you navigate the process. 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
  • 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
  • If your location will host events where 75 people or more will gather, you will need a Place of Assembly 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
  • 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.
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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
  • Set-up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a DSNY training and download or order educational materials. 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

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
  • Be sure to comply with all applicable laws involving employee wages, including living wage, sick leave, and transit benefits. 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
  • 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 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
  • 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