Business Licenses Information Guide
If you are thinking about opening a new business in the City of Clemson, our Department Staff is available to assist you. They can provide you with information about starting, expanding or relocating a business within the City of Clemson.
This is intended only as a guide. Each situation is unique and usually requires us to answer specific questions. We work closely with all city departments and will appropriately direct you to other personnel as your needs dictate.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Will I need a permit?
When you construct a new building, add to an existing building, alter the interior, make repairs, or otherwise rehabilitate a structure, you will need the appropriate permits.
Why do I need to know the Zoning and other land use requirements of the property?
The City Zoning Ordinance regulates land use and is always the starting point in the permit process. You must first determine if your proposed business is allowed on the property of interest. The zoning standards vary by district and not all districts allow commercial activities. Other codes such as the building codes and fire codes will also apply.
What if the current zoning or land use does not meet my needs?
If the zoning does not permit your proposed use, you will not be able to proceed unless the zoning standards and/or map are amended to allow your business. Amending the Zoning Ordinance and/or Map requires the City Council to adopt an ordinance making a change after they have received a recommendation from the Planning Commission. This can take several months, and the final result is dependent on the public process. For further information, please contact the Planning and Codes Administration Department.
What can you tell me about all the other city requirements, like parking, landscaping, height restrictions, etc?
The parking, landscaping, signage, dimensional standards, and similar requirements are contained in the Zoning Ordinance. The specific standards vary by district and use. For example, the parking requirements for a grocery store will not be the same as for a hotel. Other codes that need to be considered are the building and fire codes.
Who does the building inspections, and how is that governed?
The City of Clemson has adopted the International Building Codes as required by the State of South Carolina. The Building Official is the primary staff member charged with the administration and enforcement of these regulations.
What is the process for obtaining the required inspections?
If you are constructing a new building or performing significant alterations, your contractor must be properly licensed within the State of South Carolina and have a City of Clemson Business License. All inspections must be successfully completed before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued. If you plan to open your business in an existing building where no permitted work is required, the Fire Marshal must inspect the building to ensure all fire and life safety requirements are met.
Do I need a Business License and how much does it cost?
A business license is required to operate any business in the City of Clemson. The fee for a license is based upon the type of business and the gross income of the business as stated in the City Business License Ordinance.
Business License Application
Standardized Business License Application (only contractors working at multiple locations in SC)
What do I need for a Business License?
Our Fire Marshal will complete a Life Safety Checklist and an application form that must also be signed by the Zoning and Codes Administrator. Once this is done you may file for your Business License. All new construction must have passed a final inspection by the Building Official and received a Certificate of Occupancy prior to our Fire Marshal’s inspection.
What if I’m a going to serve food?
For regulations regarding food preparation and service, contact the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) at 864-467-8918. DHEC may require separate inspections. Call early to determine your best course of action. To determine if you need to upgrade or install a new grease trap, contact our Utility Supervisor at 653-2046 before you begin any work.
Who do I ask about storm water management and public utilities?
New construction and renovations may require storm water management. These may include on-site retention/detention facilities, sediment and erosion control measures, and other site engineering necessary to support the new development. The City Engineer is responsible for enforcing and administrating these regulations. The City provides water and sewer utility service. Other utility providers serving the City include Duke Power, Fort Hill Natural Gas, AT&T, Northland Cable, and all major cellular phone providers.
What about sanitation services?
Sanitation services with the City of Clemson are coordinated by the Department of Public Works. This includes solid waste collection, recycling, and placement of solid waste containers/dumpsters.
What other regulations do I need to know?
Every business or development is unique in its own way. Please contact one of our department staff at your earliest convenience so that we can help find the best way to ensure your questions are answered and to ensure you have the best information possible to allow you to make an informed decision.
Standardized Business License Application
The City of Clemson Announces New Business-Friendly Process
For a business owner, few things can be more frustrating than paperwork. And sometimes government paperwork can become an impediment to getting a job done, especially in the arena of business licensing.
Clemson is one of 29 South Carolina cities and towns taking steps to make a dent in some of this paperwork complexity by offering a standardized business license application (click here for the latest updated list). While the application is targeted to transient businesses that work in multiple cities and counties, Clemson will also accept the application from any business. The City of Clemson will continue to accept its existing license application as well.
Transient businesses often find themselves completing a different business license application in every jurisdiction where they do work. Now with this standardized form, they can complete the application once, make copies of it and submit it in multiple jurisdictions.
This is an effort by the City of Clemson to be more business friendly. Clemson worked with the Municipal Association of SC, the SC Business Licensing Officials Association, the state Chamber of Commerce and a number of other local chambers of commerce and business organizations to create this standardized business license application. This new applications is specifically targeted to help transient businesses like contractors, landscapers and caterers that work in multiple government jurisdictions.
To download a copy of the standardized business license application, click here. Read more about this new application in the Municipal Association’s March Uptown.