Business Permit Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Keeping businesses safe and legal

The City of Rochester's Business Permit Program is designed to ensure that City businesses are operated safely and legally. Certain types of businesses are required to obtain a Business Permit, and as with all businesses, must maintain good order on the business premise and obey the codes and laws of the City of Rochester and the State of New York. 

Who needs Business Permits?  

The following types of businesses requiring a Business Permit include:

  • Retail Stores that sell any of the following:
    • Beer
    • Lottery Tickets
    • Tobacco
    • Smoking Paraphernalia
  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Automobile Service Facilities
  • Salons:
    • Hairdresser
    • Barber Shop
    • Appearance Enhancement
    • Tattoo Parlor
    • Body Piercing 

Please note that businesses that hold the following other types of City licenses do not have to obtain a Business Permit:

  • Entertainment
  • Amusement
  • Second Hand Dealer
  • Pawn Broker

Further detailed information on the rules and regulations of Business Permits can be found in Chapter 90-32 of the City Code.

Follow these steps to this Guide in order to obtain/ renew a business permit. (If renewing a Business Permit, jump to Step 4).

Step 1 

Learn about the Business Permit procedure. Start by getting a business permit here

Questions about zoning, types of businesses, or requirements? Contact you Neighborhood Service Centers (NSC). 

Northwest Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center          (585) 428-7620
71 Parkway -1st Floor
 Rochester, NY 14608
Ron Penders, Administrator

Northeast Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center           (585) 428-7660
500 Norton St
 Rochester, NY 14621
Pamela Reese-Smith, Administrator

Southwest Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center          (585) 428-7630
923 Genesee St Rochester, NY 14611
David Hawkes, Administrator

Southeast Quadrant Neighborhood Service Center          (585) 428-7640
320 N Goodman Street - Suite 209 Rochester, NY 14607
Nancy Johns-Price, Administrator

Step 2 

Take your completed application to City Hall - note this must be to City Hall, not your NSC.

The completed application, $25.00 application fee payable to the City of Rochester Treasurer, Photo Identification, Certificate of Authority, and numbers of any other licenses or permits required for your business operation (see below), must be submitted to:

City Hall Permit Office 30 Church Street - Room 121B Rochester, New York 14614

Additional license information necessary may include, but is not limited to:

  • State Liquor Authority License
  • New York State Cigarette License
  • Master Barber's License
  • Cosmetology License
  • Registered New York State DMV Dealer or Repair Shop License (or applicable NYS DMV license)

Photo Identification:

  • Current Driver's License or Non-Driver Identification
  • Passport
  • Benefit Card

You're getting close, but you're not there yet! Your Business Permit is subject up to 30 days of processing and review by the City of Rochester. During this time frame, the applicant(s) will be subject to:

  • Background check
  • Past business history (if applicable)

If no issues of concern are identified, the Business Permit will be issued within 30 days or receipt. If an application is found to be incomplete, or cannot be processed due to unresolved concerns, the applicant will be notified in writing within 30 days. If there is sufficient cause for concern on the part of the City of Rochester regarding the operation of the business, the owner/operator may be offered a Conditional Business Permit.

Depending on the outcome of the review, approved applicants may move onto Step 3.

Step 3 

The next step to completing the process is setting up a Good Neighbor Agreement. City Council in November of 2012 passed legislation, which resulted in several changes to both the City of Rochester Zoning Code and the City of Rochester Property Code relating to retail uses and Business Permits. If your business requires a Business Permit then you will be asked to participate in a Good Neighbor Agreement. The Good Neighbor Agreement is a discussion with the Neighborhood Service Center on the codes with which a business owner must adhere. This meeting is done face to face so you meet the staff at the NSC and the staff can meet you. The owner can then decide if they will sign the non-binding agreement or simply sign that you understand the document.

When applicants have scheduled an appointment at the NSC for a GNA, please bring the following:

  • Certificate of Authority for NYS Sales Tax
  • Business licenses required for operation (barber license, liquor license)

After completing these steps, you're good to go!

Business Permits are valid for 1 year only, provided there is no change in the type, location, owner/operator/partner in the business, or if there is no other cause for the permit to be suspended or revoked.

Step 4 

You will receive notification of the need to renew your Business Permit 30 to 60 days prior to the month in which it was granted, with a renewal application. If you do not receive a renewal notification, please contact your local Neighborhood Service Center to obtain the Business Permit Renewal Form.

Within 30 days of receipt of your renewal notification:

If all information for your business remains unchanged, please carefully review the renewal application sent with your renewal notification and make any necessary changes/corrections. Provided there has been no change to the type, location, owner/operator or the business, sign and return the completed renewal application to:

City of Rochester Permit Office 30 Church Street - 121B Rochester, New York 14614

Applications received by the City within 30 days of receipt of the renewal notification will be processed free of charge. After 30 days, the application must include a $25.00 renewal fee made payable to the City of Rochester Treasurer.

Please Note: If the type, location, owner/operator of your business has changed, you may NOT renew your permit. You must apply for a new Business Permit.

Your Renewal Application will be reviewed by City staff. If no issues are identified, your Business Permit will be granted and mailed to you within 30 days. If the City finds cause for concern regarding the operation of your business, you will be notified by the City within 30 days.