Opening a Business in Unincorporated County

This guide is designed to assist you in the process of opening a business in St. Charles County. Keep in mind that some types of businesses may require approval by other agencies due to the nature or hazards associated with that business. This guide also does not include home occupations.

First Step

The first step in leasing or purchasing a building for your business is to ensure the property has the correct zoning for your proposed use. Always verify the current zoning with the St. Charles County Planning and Zoning Division. This is also a good time to check if any special requirements are necessary for the approval of your business. You may want to make an appointment to cover all bases through our "One Stop" Development Assistance Program.  

For example, a change in the type of use for either a structure or a property may require additional parking and/or a revised site plan to be submitted for review by the planning staff.

Once you have verified that your business is a permitted use, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Second Step

The second step is to apply for an occupancy permit from the Building and Code Enforcement Division, which will include your zoning confirmation. The occupancy permit will require you to set up an inspection of the building to verify safety and health code compliance. If you plan to change the use and/or make any modifications to the building, you will need to discuss those changes with the Building and Code Enforcement Division to determine if a Change of Use or building permit is required.

You should also contact the appropriate fire district to see if they require an inspection.

If your business involves food service or food preparation you will need to speak with the Department of Public Health regarding any additional license requirements.

Third Step

The third and final step is to determine if you need a merchant’s license. Once you have obtained your occupancy permit, zoning confirmation, and state tax number, you will need to contact the Finance Department.

If your business involves food service or preparation, you also will need the appropriate license from Public Health. It is recommended that you call the Finance Department prior to your visit. Some types of businesses do not require a merchant's license.