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Starting a Business

Starting a Business

Important: Following is general information for starting a business. It is designed only to be a handy reference guide to general business requirements, and is not intended to offer legal or financial advice. We suggest that your business plan be discussed with your attorney and your accountant.

Certificate of Name

Before you can select a name for your business, you should consult with your attorney, accountant and banker to determine what type of legal structure is best suited for it: sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation.

An unincorporated business may use the name of its owner, in which case there is no need to file a certificate name. If the name is other than the owner's name a Certificate of Business Name (D/B/A) must be filed with the Suffolk County Clerk . To insure that the business name you would like to use is available, you may check the Suffolk County Clerk’s website for Business Certificates and Corporations. Under no circumstances will searches be conducted by phone.

Suffolk County Clerk

The Suffolk County Clerk maintains an online index of all business certificates, partnerships, DBA filings, and corporations on its website. The web page has over 635,000 indexed Suffolk County Records.


A business which is to be incorporated must file with the state.

New York State Department of State

Federal (Employer) Identification Numbers

Sole Proprietorships, partnerships, corporations (including S corporations) and non-profit organizations must have a federal identification number. Sole proprietors can use their social security number unless they pay wages to one or more employees, or are required to file pension or excise tax returns, such as those for alcohol, tobacco or firearms.

You will need to fill out Form SS-4, the application for employer identification number. For additional assistance, visit the following offices:

website: Apply for an EIN number.

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What You Need to Know About Licenses and Permits

Some types of businesses are required by law to obtain licenses and / or permits prior to commencement. Listed below are some of the more common types of businesses requiring licenses and / or permits from agencies or departments of New York state, Suffolk County, or local municipalities.

New York State Licenses or Permits

Some businesses require specific New York State Permits.  Examples of businesses that require a permit include auto repair shops, beauty shops, food establishments, real estate brokers, and day care centers. For assistance in identifying New York state permits, contact: Apply for a Professional License

Suffolk County Licenses or Permits

Certain occupations require licenses, such as appliance repair shops, contractors, electricians, plumbers, precious metals dealers and second hand dealers. For assistance or more information, contact:

Suffolk County Department of Labor, Licensing, & Consumer Affairs

Before you open or relocate a business, visit the Department of Health Services - Business Resource Center to find out what you should know about the Department of Health approval process.

For sanitary requirements for operation of food stores, food storage warehouses, meat or poultry establishments, food serving or vending businesses, mobile food vehicles, and frozen dessert establishments, contact:

(631) 852-5999

Department of Health Services - Business Resource Center - Motels, Hotels, day camps, and other facilities of temporary residence, contact: Department of Health - Food Protection Program

All commercial and residential buildings must comply with county health codes. For more information, contact: Suffolk County Dept. of Health Services - Waste Water Management

Vending, peddling or soliciting* (except selling junk or liquor) by veterans in unincorporated areas, contact:

Suffolk County Clerk

* Necessary requirements:

  1. Six-month proof of residency
  2. Original discharge or DD214.

Businesses Requiring Municipal Licenses Village licenses: There are 30 incorporated villages in Suffolk County. According to state law, each may require a permit. Contact the village clerk in each village in which you will be conducting business to determine if a permit is required. Town licenses: According to state law, each township may require permits. To determine if a permit is required, contact the town clerk of each town in which you will be conducting business.

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What You Need to Know About Taxes

Sales Tax

Businesses that buy merchandise and material for resale must apply for a resale certification to avoid paying sales tax on purchases from suppliers. In addition, a tax authorization must be obtained to collect sales tax from customers. For information on either, contact:

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website:

State Taxes

Depending on the nature of a business, it may be required to pay various taxes to New York state. Some more common state taxes are business taxes for incorporated or unincorporated businesses, personal income taxes, lottery tax, truck mileage tax, gasoline or diesel fuel tax, and miscellaneous taxes. For further assistance on state tax guidelines, contact:

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance website:

Federal Taxes

All incorporated and unincorporated businesses must file federal tax returns. For further information and assistance, contact:

United States Internal Revenue Service website:

Property Taxes

Property taxes apply only to businesses that own real property. Each town or village regulates its own assessments. For further information and assistance, contact the Town or Village Assessor in each individual town or village in which your business owns property. Click here for a list of Suffolk County towns and villages.

Tax Information for Businesses: Selling Your Property

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Workmen's Compensation & Disability Benefits

For more information, contact:

Workman's Compensation Board

Unemployment Insurance

For more information, contact:

New York State Department of Labor - Division of Employment

Labor Relations

For more information, contact:

Suffolk County Department of Labor

NYS Department of Labor

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What Else You Must Comply With

Zoning and Variances

Local towns and villages have ordinances within their jurisdictions. Some of these ordinances define the procedures for obtaining permits for structural changes in existing buildings zoned for commercial and manufacturing uses, as well as in applying for variances.

Before any additions or structural renovations are made, it is advisable to submit the properly drawn plans for approval to the local municipal building department. The municipality can provide assistance in obtaining the required information.

Upon completion of renovation, a certificate of occupancy should be requested. Building permits and requests for vacancies in unincorporated areas are handled by the Building and Zoning Departments of the town.

Industrial Compliance

Laws require that industrial and manufacturing businesses comply with safety and health regulations. It is suggested that new business owners request an inspection of their premises prior to commencing business operations. For further information, contact:

United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Healthy Administration (OSHA)

Where the operation of a manufacturing business produces industrial wastes and disposal, it is important to obtain a permit for this type of operation. For further information, contact:

Suffolk County Department of Health Services Office of Pollution Control

Suffolk County Department of Health - Office of Wastewater Management

Alarm Management Program of Suffolk (AMPS)

Law Enforcement personnel respond to thousands of false alarm calls yearly. These unnecessary responses result in an enormous burden in manpower and expense; which in turn reduces the time available to respond to real emergencies.

To help us serve you better, please ensure that your alarmed location is within the Suffolk County Police District prior to registering.

The Suffolk County Police Department responds to 911 calls within the Police District which includes the five westernmost townships in Suffolk County, except for a few village departments. Townships in the Police District are: Babylon; Brookhaven; Huntington; Islip; and Smithtown.

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Who Else Can Help You

If you are unsure where to call for answers to your specific question, contact one of these first:

Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning

Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency

New York State Empire State Development Corporation

Federal Government Resources

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) -- A cooperative effort between the U.S. Small Business Administration and the State University of New York. It offers assistance with the preparation of business plans and technical assistance to existing and start-up businesses.

For more information, contact any of the following SBDC's:

  1. SUNY Stony Brook
  2. SUNY Farmingdale SBDC

Suffolk County Women's Business Enterprise Coalition Suffolk County Coalition of Minority Business Enterprises

EAP (Entrepreneurial Assistance Program) - The Entrepreneurial Assistance Program (EAP) establishes Entrepreneurial Assistance Centers in local communities to provide instruction, training, technical assistance and support services to individuals who have recently started their own business or are interested in starting a business. The program's 24 EAP centers are strategically located throughout New York State.

SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) - Sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration


U.S. Small Business Administration

Long Island Development Corporation

Training and Employment Assistance

Additional Resources Online

Suffolk County Department of Labor

Labor Practices, Collective Bargaining, Disputes & Unions

Suffolk County Department of Labor

National Labor Relations Board

NY State Labor Relations Board

Federal Mediation & Conciliation

US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division

Discriminatory Practices

Suffolk County Human Rights Commission

NYS Division of Human Rights

Ombudsman Services

Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning

NY Empire State Development

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How You Can Get Help Selling to Government Agencies

Suffolk County

Suffolk County Department of Public Works, Purchasing Division

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New York State

General Information on NY State Government

New York State Office of General Services

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United States Government

General Information on the Federal Government

U.S. General Services Administration

Small Business Administration - Government Contract Division

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Suffolk County Government

H. Lee Dennison Bldg

100 Veterans Memorial Hwy
P.O. Box 6100
Hauppauge, NY 11788

Riverhead County Center

County Road 51
Riverhead, NY 11901