Guide to 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 insure the property has the correct zoning for your proposed business. 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 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 make any modifications to the building, you will need to discuss those changes with the Building Division to determine if a 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 Community Health and Environment Department, regarding any additional license requirements.

Third Step

The third and final step is to make application for your merchant’s license. Once you have obtained your occupancy permit and zoning confirmation take them, along with your state tax number, to the Finance Office.

If your business involves food service or preparation you will need to bring the appropriate health department license also. It is recommended that you call the Finance Office prior to your visit. Some types of businesses do not require a merchant’s license.