Starting a Business

The Mayor's Business Action Team (MBAT) can help businesses take the steps necessary to start up operations in Philadelphia.

Business Privilege License and Tax Account
The Business Privilege License, issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspection (L&I), and a city tax number, issued by the Department of Revenue, can now be obtained through the submission of a single application. This application is available on the concourse level of the Municipal Services Building, 1401 JKF Boulevard.

Every business operating or conducting business within the boundaries of Philadelphia must obtain the business privilege license and city tax number. The application may be filled out in person or sent by mail to L&I. There is a onetime fee of $200.

Other types if licenses may be required depending on the nature of your business (food handling, street vending, etc.). You may call L&I at (215) 686-2490 for more information. For additional information on city taxes, please call the Department of Revenue at (215) 686-6600.

Use Registration Permit
Every business muct register its business activity for each location where it does business. A new business moving into an existing store must obtain this permit. There is a onetime filing fee of $80 per location. For more information, call the Zoning Division of L&I at (215) 686-2434.

Zoning Permit, Certificate, or Variance
Every business must be properly zoned. A zoning certificate or variance may be required for the proposed business location depending on the type of activities that will be conducted at the site. This process is separate and distinct from the one for obtaining a Business Privilege License. Both a zoning permit and a license may also be required for certain types of signs, canopies, parking lots, and other items or activities. The zoning process may require the submission of maps, plans, and drawings. Filing fees are involved. For more information, call the Zoning Division of L&I at (215) 686-2434.

Special Note for Restaurants, Delis, Etc.
Any business that will be preparing, selling or serving food products should contact the City Health Department as soon as a prospective location has been identified. Health Department approval of the premises is necessary before a Business Privilege License can be granted. For more information, call the Health Department at (215) 685-7495

Please contact the applicable state or federal agency directly for information about the following issues.

Registration of Fictitious Trade Name or Trademark
This is done at the state level for a fee of $52. A business should call the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau at (717) 787-1057 to verfify that the proposed trade name has not already been reserved by another party. If a business wishes to register its trade name or trademark, the Corporation Bureau will mail the required application forms and instructions.

State Taxes
A business may be subject to Pennsylvania state requirements, such as the collection of state taxes. Call (800) 362-2050 to obtain a Combination Registration Form (PA-100). For further state tax information, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue at (215) 560-2713.

Incorporation
This is a legal decision with tax implications that should be made only after consulting with an accountant, private attorney or legal clinic. Corporations created in other states but doing business in Pennsylvania must also register with the Corporation Bureau. To register a corporation, contact the Pennsylvania Corporation Bureau at (717) 787-6271.

Professional and Occupational Licensing
Your proposed business activity may require state licensing or approval. For information, call the Pennsylvania Office of Professional and Occupational Licensing Affairs at (717) 787-8503.

Federal Taxes
You may need to obtain a federal Employer's Identification Number (EIN). Most banks require this number on their business account application. For more information, contact the Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.ustreas.gov or 1 (800) 829-1040.

Foreign Trade
Tariffs, duties, foreign trade zone designation, and other related issues are handled by or referred to federal agencies. Please refer to the Resources section of the SSWBA Resource Guide for the appropriate agencies and organizations to contact for information.

 

*This information can be found in the City of Philadelphia Services to Business brochure, available from the Mayor's Business Action Team.