Steps to Start Your Business
From concept to commercialization
Turning a napkin jotting into an initial public offering takes a comprehensive support system. Stafford’s step-by-step business process moves companies from concept to commercialization. Whether large or small, companies in Stafford have expertise and resources available to them.
The formal steps to opening a business in Stafford are simple. All departments are located at the George L. Gordon Stafford County Government Center at 1300 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554.
STEP 1: Provide Business Information to the Department of Economic Development & Tourism
Provide business contact information to the Department of Economic Development by completing this online form here.
The Department of Economic Development & Tourism nurtures businesses through startup and expansion. From site selection to capital and networking, the department points businesses to available resources. Sign up for the department newsletter here and receive emails on business news, financing and grant information, entrepreneurial development, business trainings, events, and more.
Questions? Contact Economic Development
STEP 2: Speak with a Permit Clerk at the Community Development Service Center (CDSC)
A permit tech will explain the necessary steps to obtain the required Building and Occupancy permits, or Use permits for all businesses, including home-based businesses. Business permits are available in person or via the online permit application portal, after creating an account.
The CDSC handles all planning, zoning, and building permits. This streamlines the process that businesses need for buildings and development projects, and makes the permit application process easier.
Questions? Contact: Sarah Hart, CDSC Manager
STEP 3: Register your business with the Commissioner of Revenue
Next, register a business with the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue. To complete the registration process, business owners will need to have already completed the following:
- Chosen a business structure (example: sole proprietor, LLC, etc.)
- Chosen a business name
If a business is selling prepared food, it must file for meals tax with this office.
Registrations may be completed in person or using the online e-filing system here. Stafford County does not have a business license, but it has a business registration requirement, and successful registrants will receive a Business Registration Certificate.
Questions? Contact: Teresa Perez, Personal Property Specialist I
Phone: 540-658-4132 ext. 1121
Megan Hesse, Business Compliance Officer
Phone: 540-658-4132 ext. 1123
STEP 4: A business may require a health permit from the Stafford Environmental Health Department
If a business fits under any of the following categories, please contact the Stafford Environmental Health Department:
- Business is a restaurant, mobile food truck/unit, and/or serving food.
- Business is a daycare
- Opening a school
- Opening or expanding a hotel, bed and breakfast, or any other transient lodging establishment
- Business has a swimming pool and/or is under construction
Applications for permits are available online here for food services, brick-and-mortar, mobile food trucks, and a temporary event permit. All forms must be completed and brought to the Stafford Environmental Health Department.
If ownership is being transferred from one business to another, the appropriate party must apply for a new food permit for that unit or brick-and-mortar. Permits are issued based on individual ownership and not by business.
Questions? Contact: Stafford Environmental Health Department
Location: Rowser Building, 1739 Richmond Hwy, Stafford, VA 22554
State and Federal Requirements for starting a business
- State Requirements: The State Corporation Commission handles registration at the state level and county level. As of January 1, 2020, applicants can register for the “Certificate of Assumed or Fictitious Name – Business Conducted by an Individual” on the SCC website. Phone: 866-722-2551
- Federal Requirements: To complete the business registration process at a federal level, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will issue a Federal Employment Identification Number (FEIN Number) to a business. FEIN Numbers can be obtained at no cost and can be provided immediately online or over the phone. Phone: 1-800-829-4933
To receive promotional assistance via a ribbon cutting ceremony from Economic Development, business owners must complete each of the previous steps and hold a Business Registration Certificate obtained from the Commissioner of Revenue.
Stafford is a one-stop-shop for doing business. The opportunities and challenges facing new businesses are many. An onsite team of experts helps businesses navigate this process. Whether businesses seek financing support or the energy of Stafford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, connect with the team and like-minded community leaders.
Early Business Development and Fundamentals
Stafford has teamed up with RIoT, a startup accelerator that offers a series of workshops for early-stage business owners and entrepreneurs. Learn more about their programs, RIoT Foundations Program and RIoT Accelerator Program, and how to register.
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