Quick Guides


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 guide to start your urban agriculture business 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. REGISTER FOR BUSINESS PLANNING COURSES
  • 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. SIGN UP FOR CLASSES
  • 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 ABOUT WRITING A BUSINESS PLAN
  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an Urban Agriculture Toolkit with resources for urban farming. USE THE TOOLKIT
  • For more information on opening an agriculture business in the State of New York, visit the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets website. VISIT THE STATE AGRICULTURE WEBSITE
  • If you are planning to sell prepared foods to customers, review the Restaurant Quick Guide by selecting "Restaurant" from the drop-down menu at the top of this page.

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.  GET FREE ADVICE ON LEGAL STRUCTURES
  • 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. GET FREE LEGAL ADVICE
  • 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 ABOUT EIN
  • 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. GET HELP WITH FINANCING
  • 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 ABOUT INCENTIVES
  • 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 ABOUT INSURANCE

Find and Plan Your Space

  • Learn more about zoning in your neighborhood with the Department of City Planning's ZoLa map. USE THE ZOLA MAP
  • Learn about City facilities that can help your business on the Facilities Explorer from the Department of City Planning. USE THE FACILITIES EXPLORER
  • 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. GET FREE LEGAL ADVICE
  • 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. GET HELP WITH PLAN EXAMINATIONS
  • 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.
  • 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 ABOUT WORK ON LANDMARKED PROPERTIES
  • 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 ABOUT THE NOISE CODE
  • 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

  • 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. USE THE STEP BY STEP
  • Set-up your space to maximize recycling and avoid violations. Attend a DSNY training and download or order educational materials. ATTEND A TRAINING
  • Post applicable worker protection posters. Follow Federal as well as New York State requirements. DOWNLOAD POSTERS
  • The US Food & Drug Administration recommends Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification, to ensure food safety is standardized. LEARN MORE ABOUT HACCP CERTIFICATION
  • A Nursery Dealer Registration Certificate is required for any person, firm, partnership, association or corporation that buys, acquires, or receives on consignment plant nursery stock for the purpose of reselling or transporting. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATE
  • A Plant Grower Registration Certificate is required for a business in which nursery stock (trees, shrubs, plants, flowers, etc.) is propagated, grown or cultivated for the purpose of distribution or sale. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATE
  • If your business will slaughter animals or fowl, or process meat or meat products for food, you must be licensed by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. LEARN ABOUT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE LICENSE
  • Apples labeled “controlled atmosphere” must meet storage specifications put forth by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. LEARN ABOUT APPLE STORAGE
  • All vehicles used for commercial or business purposes need a Commercial Vehicle Registration from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. LEARN ABOUT THE REGISTRATION
  • Businesses interested in composting organic waste will need to acquire a registration or permit with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. LEARN MORE ABOUT COMPOSTING ORGANIC WASTE
  • Individuals or businesses that will store hazardous substances in bulk must have a valid Registration Certificate for Hazardous Substance Bulk Storage from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Hazardous substances are substances that may cause injuries or illness to humans when improperly used, including organic and non-organic pesticides and nitrate-based fertilizer. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CERTIFICATE
  • If you will be storing hazardous substances, understand the reporting and filing requirements of the Community Right-To-Know Program. You may be required to file a Facility Inventory Form and pay the applicable fees. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE COMMUNITY RIGHT-TO-KNOW PROGRAM
  • Pick-up trucks with an unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or less may be registered as either commercial or passenger vehicles. Owners must pay a commercial registration fee along with any applicable county- or borough-based commercial use tax. LEARN MORE ABOUT PICKUP TRUCKS
  • Businesses using water or sewer services provided by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must pay for all services rendered. Businesses that use water from a fire hydrant, dump waste or wastewater into sewers, or have any other form of water or sewer services provided by DEP must have an active account with DEP.
  • Check your eligibility for a wastewater allowance from DEP, which can lower your water bill. To qualify, a property must have a dedicated metered water supply that supplies a process that does not discharge all of its water into the wastewater system. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE WATER AND WASTEWATER RATE SCHEDULE (PDF)
  • If you plan to sell products at a farmer's market, supermarket, bodega, or deli in New York City, review the Inspection Checklists for Supermarkets, Bodegas, and Delis and for General Retail for information on how to avoid common violations. REVIEW THE INSPECTION CHECKLISTS (PDF)
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Hire a Team

  • The minimum wage for all employees in New York City is $15.00 per hour starting December 31, 2019. Businesses that violate this law will be punished. LEARN MORE ABOUT MINIMUM WAGE
  • 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. GET HELP HIRING A TEAM
  • Be sure to comply with all applicable laws involving employee wages, including living wage, sick leave, and transit benefits. LEARN MORE ABOUT WAGE LAWS

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.
  • 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 ABOUT RIGHT-TO-KNOW
  • 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 ABOUT IDLING REGULATIONS
  • 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 ABOUT ASBESTOS RULES AND REGULATIONS
  • All persons keeping non-aggressive honeybees (Apis mellifera) in New York City for recreational or commercial purposes must register with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Vector Surveillance and Control. This registration informs the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene of the location of the hive(s) and the quantity of bees maintained at a specific location. LEARN MORE ABOUT BEEKEEPER REGISTRATION
  • The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Division of Plant Industry is responsible for maintaining plant health. The Division conducts inspections of nurseries, orchards, greenhouses, saw mills, apiaries, and transportation pathways to identify threats to the plant industry. LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPECTIONS
  • You can receive a subsidized energy use audit from the State Energy Research and Development Authority that is specially made for agriculture businesses. LEARN MORE ABOUT ENERGY AUDITS
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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.

  • 10 Minutes or less

    It takes the average person about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

  • Avoid Fines & Complaints

    It takes the average person about 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire.

  • Resources and Incentives

    Many businesses qualify for money-saving incentive programs. For some incentive programs, you can try the Incentives Estimator to provide dollar-value estimates of the benefit that you might receive.