Step 9: Acquire Your Business Permits and Licenses

You’re starting a business! In the last step (Step 8) you learned how to register for federal, state, and local taxes. That was sooo fun! Just admit it, you are becoming excited with every step toward the launch of your new business aren’t you? If you thought taxes were fun, and you probably did not, then let’s dive into the shallow end of Atlanta business licensing, general regulatory permits, inspections. Don’t worry, we are here to help you!

Once you have your business plan, a place in which to do business, mentors and partners to keep you sane, and all that tax knowledge you are going to need to talk to the City of Atlanta to obtain permits, licenses, and possibly inspections.

Every situation is unique, here we will provide you with direct links to explore topics in each area. If you are working outside of your home, you will most certainly need a variety of permits to be in compliance with state, and local laws. Don’t worry, the process is quick and relatively painless, and City employees are actually very helpful when new businesses inquire for help navigating the maze of regulations.


City of Atlanta Regulatory Permit Directory
https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/finance/revenue/regulatory-permit-directory

DO THIS FIRST: The website for the Department of Revenue clearly states, “The Office of Revenue cannot process a new business license application without the proper regulatory permit.” Make sure you do not skip this step, or you will be right back here after an unsuccessful attempt to get your business license. This permit directory is sorted alphabetically by business sector (i.e. Adult Care, Alcoholic Beverages, Fortune Telling, Vending, Waste Water, and Wrecker Service.)

City of Atlanta Business License
https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/finance/revenue/applying-for-a-business-license

According to Atlanta Government’s finance & revenue page, “A general business license is required of all businesses operating within the city limits of Atlanta.” Which means that if you are operating in Atlanta, you need this license. If you do not have a physical office or location in Atlanta, but you are doing business directly in the city then you are also subject to Occupancy Tax (Atlanta Municipal Code § 30-77). Apply for your business license with the City of Atlanta or find more information at the link below:


City of Atlanta Building Permits and Inspections
https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/city-planning/office-of-buildings/inspection-division

If you have a physical location, your location will have to be inspected by the city and permitted to open. In this process you will need to have a pre-construction meeting, have your building physically inspected from the footings and foundation to the electrical and mechanical, plumbing, framing, insulation, drywall, fire, and even landscaping. It seems like a heavy burden, but the city has a great guide to getting your building permit. Click here to view the guide. https://www.atlantaga.gov/home/showdocument?id=23785


City of Atlanta Sign Permit
https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/departments/city-planning/office-of-buildings/permits/sign-permit

If you are placing any type of outdoor signage on your property, permanent or mobile, then you will need a sign permit. Technically, what is a sign? Glad you asked, according to the Atlanta City Code:

“A sign is “any device, fixture, placard, display, or structure visible to the general public that uses or is designed to use any color, form, graphic, illumination, symbol, writing, or visual presentation of any kind to advertise, announce, draw attention to, or identify a product, place, activity, person, institution, business, or other entity or to communicate a message or information of any kind to the public.” “A ‘sign’ shall include both ‘sign face’ and ‘sign structure.’” (Atlanta Municipal Code § 16-28A.004).” 

Sign permits might seem like a trivial part of your business plan, but having the appropriate signage in the write spot to advertise your business is vital to reaching your customers. This is true for both brick-and-mortar storefronts as well as online businesses and home-based companies. Planning your display strategy will ensure that your business gets seen.

You’ve made it through another step on your path to starting a business. There is only one step left and it is a great one: Educating yourself on employer responsibilities. You are about to become a business owner, you have this locked down, and we believe in you! If you are following along with this guide and you have questions, then send me an email: JLong@theAtlantaVoice.com

Jump back to Step 1: Write Your Business Plan

photo: Jacey Fortin

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