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Restaurant/Bar

An establishment that prepares and serves food, liquor, cocktails, wine, and beer for consumption.

Required

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Obtain a Business Income and Receipts Tax ID

Every individual, partnership, association and corporation doing business in Philadelphia must file a Business Income and Receipts Tax Return in whether or not they earned a profit during the preceding year. Rental activities are usually considered business activities.

Obtain an Activity License

An Activity License is required for all businesses and non-profits operating in Philadelphia. This includes businesses that are located outside the city limits but do some or all of their business activity in the City.

Starting Your Food-related Business

If you serve, sell or prepare foods or beverages you will need to read this guide carefully to ensure compliance with all local regulations.

Food Preparing and Serving

This license is required of anyone operating a food establishment where food is prepared or served for public consumption. This includes restaurants, delis, caterers, bars, grocery stores making sandwiches and serving beverages, Child care facilities, etc.

Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is required as a condition of a change in the use and occupancy of a space in accordance with the International Building Code. Certificates of Occupancy are also required for all new construction and building additions.

Cooking Extinguishing Systems

To obtain a Cooking Extinguishing System Permit, gather the materials listed below and submit a completed permit application in-person at the Municipal Services Building (MSB) Concourse at 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

Dumpster License, Private

All private dumpsters required a lifetime license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Have a Recycling Plan

All commercial properties receiving private or city waste collection must complete the Commercial Solid Waste and Recycling Plan.

Signage

To obtain permission to install a sign on your business, gather the materials listed below and submit a completed permit application in-person at the Municipal Services Building (MSB) Concourse.

Zoning and Use

The Philadelphia Zoning Code regulates development within the city. Zoning regulations govern land use, the height and size of buildings, population density, parking requirements, signage placement and the character of development on private property, and property uses.

Documents You May Need

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Dumpster License - Public Right of Way

Dumpsters in the public right of way require an annual, renewable license from the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Sidewalk Cafe License

This form is required to operate a sidewalk cafe.

Liquor Tax

Every sale at retail of wine, liquor or malt and brewed beverages by any hotel, restaurant, club or other person holding a license or permit issued by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to sell or dispense liquor, wine or malt and brewed beverages is subject to this tax.

Special Assembly Occupancy License

This license is required for restaurants, bars, catering halls, night clubs and other gathering places with dancing and a lawful occupancy of over 50 people. Theatres with fixed seating do not need this license.