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How to Start a New Business

Starting a new business is very complex. Here is some information that could assist you before opening your business. However, this information is only used as a guide and it is not meant to be all inclusive. 

Steps to Starting a New Business

1. You must first determine what type of business you will have whether a Limited Liability Company, Corporation, Non-Profit, or Sole Proprietor. Click here to see the different types of business entities.

2. Obtain an EIN 

The second step to starting a new business is acquiring your Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN). Most businesses need to acquire one. They are issued from the IRS. Click here for information on EINs.

3. Register your Business Name

 All business names should be registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State before going into operation. Many businesses will need to register under a fictitious name, a name different than the personal name of the founder. Click here for the application for a fictitious name business registration.

Click here for information on fictitious name registration.

4. Zoning Compliance

Once you have your EIN through the federal government and registered your business name with the state government, it is time to work with the city government.

First, you will need to make sure that the physical business address you wish to operate in is legally allowed to house your business entity. This is done through the zoning department of the City via a zoning compliance application. The zoning compliance application can be found at www.cityoflancasterpa.com/zoning-compliance.  If you would like more information on zoning requirements and would like to speak with the Zoning Officer, please call 717-291-4736.

5. Building, Planning, & Health Permits

Depending on what type of business you would like to operate, you might need one or all of the permits listed above.  When you meet with the Zoning Officer, he/she will inform you of what permits you will need.  However, if you know you need a building permit, please call 717-291-4721.  If you need to speak to a health officer, please call 717-291-4714.

6. Register your Business

As of November 2014, all businesses operating within the Lancaster city limits must now register with the city. Click here for more information on the Business Registration Program and the application to register.

Certain businesses must obtain a business permit IN ADDITION to registering their business with the city. The types of businesses that must obtain a permit are:

     - Second Hand/Buy & Sell
     - Antique Dealers
     - Junk & Salvage Dealers
     - Pawnbrokers
     - Vendor/Peddler (Door to Door)
     - Transient Merchant

Business Permits for these are issued through Lancaster City Police. Click here for more information on obtaining business permits.