Business License Zoning Clearance

The Zoning Business License Clearance Application is required to approve the use of a business prior to the issuance of a Business License through the Commissioner of the Revenue. (Note that obtaining the actual business license is a separate process conducted through the Commissioner of the Revenue.)

Zoning staff is available for walk-in customers between the hours of 8:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday. No appointment needed. 

  • Current and valid identification or proof of residency must be provided with application.
  • Omitting information pertaining to the project from the use description or other required submissions for this application will cause the application to be deemed incomplete.
  • No action will take place if staff determines that the application is incomplete.
  • No application, permit or approval shall be considered on property where there is a known outstanding violation of the Zoning Ordinance, unless the application, permit, and/or approval would remedy the violation.
  • Zoning Business License Clearance may be revoked at such point in time if omitted or incorrect information has been brought to light.

The Zoning Business License Clearance Application Fee is $15.00 or fee as established in City Code Appendix A Portsmouth Fee Schedule. 

Do not submit payment with this application. Payment will be submitted to the Commissioner of the Revenue when applying for the actual business license. Note that additional fees may be required by the Commissioner of the Revenue.

Business License Zoning Clearance Application

Home Based Businesses (Home Occupations)

Home based businesses (often called Home Occupations) require a Business License and must provide proof of residency at the address associated with the home occupation. Home occupations are defined as a business, profession, occupation, or trade which is conducted within a dwelling unit by a resident of the dwelling unit, secondary to the residential use of the lot and which does not adversely affect the character of the lot or surrounding area. Home occupation includes but is not limited to: offices; electronic and offsite retail; personal services such as physical therapy by licensed individuals, beauty parlors, pet grooming, art studios, and similar uses. 

For more information about Home Occupations, click here.

 Zoning Business License Clearance Application

The Zoning Business License Clearance Application can be downloaded here. Zoning Business License Clearance Application

Applicants should be sure to consult the checklist on the application to ensure that all the required information and materials are included with the application when it is submitted. The Zoning staff can be consulted if additional information is needed prior to submitting an application.

Zoning Business License Clearance Application Submission

Completed applications should be submitted by email whenever possible. Email applications and associated supporting materials for Zoning Business License Clearance to

Electronic/digital submission of applications and other materials is encouraged whenever feasible.

Zoning application materials and documents should not be placed in any dropbox or included with submissions to other city departments. 

Required documents must be submitted directly to the Zoning staff and are required in addition to documents submitted to other departments.

For items that cannot be emailed, applicants can send items by US Postal Service, FedEx, or UPS (as appropriate for the application type).



Please note that after the Zoning Business License Clearance is approved, the applicant will need to apply separately for the actual business license with the Commissioner of the Revenue.

SmartStart Business Guide

Portsmouth's Economic Development Department created the SmartStart Business Guide to distill the key information you need when starting a business and provide you with a roadmap to the different city services involved. Use this tool to help you stay organized and launch your business with a smart start. Call Economic Development at (757) 393-8804 for additional assistance on starting a business in the City of Portsmouth. 

Click the link below to access Portsmouth's Smart Start Business Guide.  

Smart Start Business Guide