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Opening a Business!

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We're excited that you chose Chapel Hill for your new business adventure! Once you have your location you'll need to think about changes (if any) you plan to make to the space. These changes will determine your path for permitting and opening your business.

Do I need a permit?

If you're making changes to a commercial space, the answer is yes! Currently, there are no permitting exemptions for commercial work. It's always safest to assume you need one and contact our office if you're unsure.

If you're making any changes to the space or altering its use...

A commercial permit is required. You may view the Commercial Permit page for additional information.

Here are some helpful tips and reminders:

  • Check with Planning about the allowable uses for a space before signing a lease. It's important to confirm that your business is allowed in that space. 
  • Commercial plan review has a general time-frame of 30 business days. This time-frame does not include any approvals needed from other departments within the Town or outside entities.
  • Commercial permit applications can be submitted without contractors. Contractors are needed before the permit can be approved for issuance.
  • Interior demolition applications typically spend less time in plan review. If you want to start the interior demo work early, you can submit separate applications for the demolition and reconstruction work. 
  • Be sure to include a Business Occupancy application with your submittal. This form allows us to keep track new and existing business in Chapel Hill and provide emergency contact for first responders.

 If you're not making any changes to the space or its use...

You only need to complete the Business Occupancy Application and submit a floor plan of the space. There's a $180.00 fee due for the business occupancy inspection and once the inspection is complete, you're good to go!

Are you installing a sign?

If you want to install a sign for your business, you'll need to submit a Sign Permit Application. Please visit our Sign Permits page for additional information.

Are you interested in Outdoor Dining?

If you're interested in having outdoor dining for your business, you will need to submit a Sidewalk Dining Application. Outdoor dining is permitted separately and applications must be submitted once the renovation work for the space is complete.


Application Forms


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