Your business start-up may be fueled by passion, but it will be shaped by local law. Like other cities around the country, Rochester, New York, has rules for business licenses and business zoning, and your company may have state laws it has to comply with as well. It's a good idea to know the rules for Rochester's businesses before you open your doors; otherwise, you may launch your business and find yourself facing fines for violating the law.

Step 1.

Choose your business structure. If you want to incorporate or form a limited partnership, file the appropriate paperwork -- a certificate of limited partnership or a certificate of incorporation -- at the state level. If you're a sole proprietorship, no official filing is needed, according to Score, a business-counseling service. You may, however, have other paperwork you'll have to fill out to do business in Rochester.

Step 2.

Register your business name, if it is different from your own. If you're creating a Rochester-based corporation, search the New York Division of Corporations for names that are already taken. For a sole proprietorship or a general partnership, file the name with Monroe County and take out a "Doing Business As" certificate.

Step 3.

Take out a City of Rochester business permit, if you need one. Some cities require permits from any business opening in city limits; Rochester only wants them from certain types of business, including food stores, restaurants and bars, retail stores, drug stores, bowling alleys and pawnbrokers. Some businesses, such as pawnbrokers, have to file a surety bond with the city as well.

Step 4.

Research the zoning laws before you buy a place of business. If you plan to open a retail store, a bar or a pawnbroker's, you could end up wasting a lot of money if you buy or lease property before you make sure the zoning is compatible. Some businesses, such as bowling alleys and pool halls, require a certificate of zoning compliance applying for a license.

Step 5.

Apply to the IRS for an Employer Identification Number, which works like a Social Security number for business tax returns. If you have any employees or a business structure other than a sole proprietorship, you must have an EIN. If you're a sole proprietor with no staff, you may be able to use your Social Security number; the IRS website has instructions to help you decide.


If your business requires a permit, you must post the document on the wall where it's visible on the walls of your business. You'll also have to renew the permit every year.