Business Licensing (NEW)

New/Relocation/Change in Ownership BUSINESSES:

To operate a business in the City of Norfolk, the following are required: (Some types of businesses may have additional requirements i.e., restaurants.)

  • Zoning Approval
  • Treasurer Approval
  • Business License Application

Step1: Zoning Approval

Request that the Department of Planning (Zoning Division) issues a Business License Zoning Approval that grants you or your company permission to operate that type of business at the chosen location. See below for some additional zoning details. Click here Business License Zoning Review Application to request zoning approval.

Zoning Approval must be received from the zoning department before completing the next step.

Additional Notes:

  • If you are applying to operate a mobile food vendor within the city of Norfolk but do not have a Norfolk address, use the address called “Mobile Vendor” when filling out your application.
  • If your business is located on base or other federal property, please use the address 9000 Hampton Boulevard when filling out your application. 
  • A US Post Office or any other third-party mailbox is not permitted for a business address in Norfolk. All addresses must be a valid physical Norfolk address.
  • For questions or concerns please email 

Step 2: Treasurer Approval / Business License Application

  1. Request that the Norfolk City Treasurer issue you an Approval Certificate which indicates that all delinquent taxes you or your company may owe to the city are paid in full as stated in Norfolk City Code Section 24-25.10.
  2. Request that our office the Commissioner of the Revenue issues a business license to operate in the City of Norfolk after all the above requirements have been satisfied, and the license fee has been paid in full.

Click here to start the Online NEW Business License Application Treasurer Approval and to submit your New Business License Application to our office.

 Your application will be kept on file for 30 days. If you do not complete the business license process within 30 days, you must reapply. 

For additional guidance please read the:

Simplifying Business Quick Guide

All business and professional operations, according to Norfolk City Code §24-25.3, must purchase a business license before commencing operation in the City of Norfolk, including Home Businesses and Special Events.

Licenses expire December 31 of each year.

Your business may qualify for location-based incentives including Business License fee reduction. For more information visit the Incentives page prior to purchasing a business license.

In order to obtain a Norfolk City Business License, you must have a definite place of business. A definite place of business is an office or location where a regular and continuous course of dealing with the public occurs. In the City of Norfolk, zoning laws may prohibit your business from operating at certain locations. The address for your business must be approved by Zoning. 

Home Businesses

A home occupation shall be permitted in any zoning district as an accessory use to any permitted dwelling unit in accordance with following standards:

  • The home occupation shall be clearly subordinate to the use of the dwelling unit for residential purposes and shall not occupy more than 25% of the floor area of the dwelling unit. There shall be no signs, exterior displays, outside storage of materials or equipment, and no exterior indication of the home occupation or other variation from the residential character of the building.
  • No person who is not a member of the family residing within the dwelling unit shall be employed by or engaged in the home occupation.
  • The home occupation shall not involve the receipt or delivery of merchandise, goods, or equipment other than by US Mail, United Parcel Service, Federal Express, Amazon, or similar carriers that typically deliver packages to residences. 
  • No traffic shall be generated in greater volumes than would normally be expected in the neighborhood.
  • There shall be no on-site sales to the general public of products or merchandise.
  • No perceptible noise, odor, smoke, electrical interference, or vibration shall emanate from the structure in which the home occupation is conducted.
  • Commercial vehicles are not permitted in a residential area. All signage on personal vehicles must be removable and removed when not in use. Here is the  City ordinance for commercial vehicles Norfolk Municode-Sec. 25-293. - Parking of buses, trucks, trailers, etc. in residence district .


City of Norfolk Zoning Ordinance Number 4.3.3.E:(1)(k)(xii) specifically excludes the following as home occupations:

  • Personal service businesses; 
  • Nursing homes or hospices;
  • Tattoo parlors;
  • Therapeutic massage facilities;
  • Contractor’s offices with outdoor storage; and
  • Vehicle sales and service uses.

Register a Trade Name

Any person, partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability company, or corporation using a name which does not identify the owner of the business must register a fictitious name with the State Corporation Commission. Registering this name does not prevent your business name from being used by any other business. It is done to assist the public by providing information as to the person with whom the public will be dealing. There is a fee to register this name. Please visit the Forms and Fees section on the SCC website for more information.

Cost of Business License

The cost of the business license is based upon your estimate of total gross receipts from the day the business opens to December 31 of the same year. If the estimate is less than $100,000, the license will cost $50.00 which is the minimum tax. If, however, the estimate is greater than $100,000, a tax rate will be applied to your estimate. There are different rates for different types of businesses shown below under associated fees. 

What You Need

When applying in person, please allow at least one hour to complete the application process. When paying by check, bring a separate check for each process. To help streamline your application process, be sure to bring these important documents with you:

  • Visit the City Treasurer's office to obtain a signed certificate of approval
  • Government-issued picture ID
  • Lease or letter of permission from the homeowner (if applicable)
  • Zoning approval (Email or 757-664-4752)
  • State Corporation Commission Certificate or Corporate Charter (if applicable)
  • Register Trade Name or Partnership with State Corporation Commission (if applicable)
  • Meal Tax Bond (Food establishment - fees vary - Contact 757-664-7886)
  • Permits (If applicable - fees vary)
  • Estimate of gross receipts through December 31
  • Printable Checklist (PDF)

Associated Fees

  • Contractors - $0.16 per $100 gross receipts
  • Retail - $0.20 per $100 gross receipts
  • Repair, Personal, and Business Services - $0.36 per $100 gross receipts
  • Financial, Real Estate, and Professional Services - $0.58 per $100 gross receipts
  • Wholesale Business $50 flat fee plus - $.15 per $100 gross purchases ($100,000 threshold does not apply)


If you still need some help or have questions, feel free to give us a call at 757-664-7886. You can also visit the Slover Library's Hendrix Business Center page which contains valuable start up information for people interested in starting a new business.