Permits and Licenses

These are regulatory licenses

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Business License Beer/Wine License Hospitality Program Permits Signage Permitted Business Uses by Zoning District Businesses in Residential Zones Businesses in Mixed-Use and Non-Residential Zones Español

Business License

The City of Raleigh does not require a business license to operate a business within Raleigh City limits.

Depending on the size of your business, it may be best to consult with an attorney before getting started. 

  • To find out what is required, contact the town(s) that you plan to operate in to see what their licensing requirements are. If you plan to conduct business within the Raleigh City Limits, contact Revenue Services at 919-996-3200 for more information. 
  • For information concerning Wake County’s requirements related to your business, contact the Wake County Revenue Department at 919-856-5400
  • To find out what state licenses and permits are required, contact EDPNC Small Business Advisors at 800-228-8443

Beer/Wine License

Any business that sells Beer or Wine within the Raleigh City limits must obtain a Beer/Wine License before selling any alcoholic beverages. 

  • Businesses must FIRST obtain Temporary ABC Permits from the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. 
  • Beer/Wine Licenses must be renewed prior to April 30 each year. 
  • Be sure to contact the Planning and Development Department at 919-996-2495  to ensure that the sale of alcoholic beverages is allowed at your business location. 

Please Note:  beginning with the 2024/25 license renewal period, all applications and renewals will be processed online, and paper applications will no longer be accepted.  All existing and new licensees will be required to create an online account AND apply for a Beer/Wine license for each business location.  Please see the instructions below for how to log in to the Raleigh Permit and Development Portal and create the Beer/Wine account. 

If you have any questions, contact Revenue Services at: or 919-996-3200

How to Apply

Step  Description 
1. Register for your portal account

Register or login to your Permit and Development Portal account.

Registration FAQs

2. Apply for beer/wine license

Apply for Beer/Wine license for each business location.

3. City review and notification Once the application is submitted and the fee is paid, the City will review submissions and reach out with any comments or questions. Upon approval, the City will issue your license and notify the applicant that the license is available on the portal for printing and posting at the business location. 


Hospitality Program Permits

The Office of Special Events oversees the permitting process for private use of public spaces, outdoor seating, is a liaison to the nightlife industry to ensure a more vibrant and safe community and manages projects of high consequence and public significance requiring coordination with internal and external stakeholders.

  • Outdoor Seating: Outdoor seating allows activation of public streets, sidewalks and plazas by providing pedestrian amenities, supporting local businesses and fostering community interactions. Any business interested in seating on the public right-of-way must obtain a Sidewalk Seating Permit and/or a Streetery Permit
  • Nightlife Permit: A Nightlife Permit is required for any establishment intended for food and/or drink consumption that is of a specific assembly type according to NC Fire Code, has live or recorded entertainment after 11:00p.m., and alcoholic consumption is allowed.  A Nightlife Permit ensures that such businesses operate in a safe manner and discourages criminal activities.  Any business who meets these criteria must obtain a Nightlife Permit. 
  • Pushcart Vending: A Pushcart Vending Permit allows the operation of a mobile vending unit on City sidewalks. In order to sell, serve or give away food and/ or beverage on a pushcart in the public right-of-way, this permit must be obtained
  • Street Performers: Street performers are defined as any person or small group who conduct performances, such as playing live music, for entertainment purposes or voluntary donations on City sidewalks. Such use of the public right-of-way requires performers to obtain a Street Performer Permit
  • Newsrack: A newsrack is defined as a self-service container used for the distribution of printed material. To place a publication’s standalone newsrack on City sidewalk or use a cubby in the Fayetteville Street modular kiosks, a Newsrack Permit must be obtained.
  • Sip n’ Stroll: Sip n’ Stroll is Raleigh’s social district, a designated area where alcoholic beverages can be purchased from a licensed ABC permittee and consumed outdoors. Currently, Sip n’ Stroll Downtown is the City’s only social district. If you are a business in this area, visit the Sip n Stroll website to opt-in or opt-out. 


Permits are required for all outdoor signs except directional signs, such as exit and entrance signs, and informational signs, such as signs designating restrooms and phones. A Sign Permit is required any time a business wants to display signage or hold an event that includes advertising visible from the public right-of-way. 

Sign Permits are required for: 

  • Permanent signs 
  • Ground and tract identification signs 
  • Signs erected on parapet walls 
  • Awning signs 
  • Signs in shopping centers or at multi-tenant buildings 
  • Internally illuminated signs 
  • Special events signs

Permitted Business Uses by Zoning District

Zoning regulates land use and development, and all properties in Raleigh are mapped with one or more zoning categories. If you are starting a business, you need to verify that the zoning permits you to operate your business legally on the property. If you operate in a zoning district where your type of business is not permitted, you will be in violation of the City of Raleigh Code of Ordinances and may be fined and required to cease operation. 

It is recommended that you do your due diligence by contacting zoning staff on the front end to discuss any requirements. Persons wishing to open a business on a property that is not zoned for the proposed use have the option of petitioning the City for a rezoning. Questions regarding zoning and rezoning can be directed to Planning and Development at 919-996-2682. Additional information about the rezoning process and associated cost are available online.

Businesses in Residential Zones

The City permits you to run a business out of your home as either a Home Occupation or Live-Work accessory use. 

A Home Occupation does not allow non-resident employees or customers to visit the premises. There can also be no change to the outward appearance of the home, including signage, and the use may occupy no more than 25% of the dwelling. While no permit is needed to establish a Home Occupation, you are required to adhered to all rules as set forth in Section 6.7.3.D. of the Unified Development Ordinance. 

By contrast, Live Work permits up to two (2) non-resident employees and up to five (5) customers to be on the premises at any one time. In addition, changes to the exterior of the home and limited signage are allowed. A Miscellaneous Zoning Permit is needed to establish a Live Work accessory use. More information, including a list of allowable uses, can be found in Section 6.7.3.F. of the Unified Development Ordinance.

Businesses in Mixed-Use and Non-Residential Zones

There are several different zoning districts which permit businesses. These include Legacy Zoning Districts, Overlay Districts and UDO Zoning Districts. Learn more at the City's zoning page.



Revenue Services Division


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