City of College Park, Maryland

Economic Development

Licenses & Permits

Starting a business is an exciting and challenging undertaking. The City of College Park has created a Business Resource Guide to ensure that establishing a business here will be a smooth process. The guide provides a starting point for getting your business up and running, including the following information:

  • A checklist for new businesses detailing the process from creating a business plan to opening the doors to customers.
  • A list of important contacts at various government levels for information on everything from registering your business name to obtaining grants.
  • Details on assistance programs offered at the City and County levels that provide funding for new or existing businesses.
  • Profiles of each of the City's commercial areas to give you an overview of the possibilities of locating your business.

 Additional detailed information is listed below to supplement the resource guide.


Select Your Business Structure

The first step in establishing a business in the State of Maryland is to determine which form of business structure is most appropriate for your operations. The four most common forms of business structure are the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and limited liability company. Each structure has certain advantages and disadvantages that should be considered. Choosing the appropriate organizational structure for your business is one of the most important decisions made and may require advice from an attorney, accountant or other professional advisor.

Once you have chosen a structure for your business, the next step is to complete the necessary registration requirements.

Create Your Business Structure

Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships

Sole proprietorships or general partnerships require no legal entry formalities except compliance with State and local licensing and taxation requirements.

 Legal Entities (Corporations, Limited Liability Companies, etc.)

For information about registration requirements for legal entities, contact:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Corporate Charter Division
301 West Preston Street, 8th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 767-1340
http://www.dat.state.md.us

Select and Register Your Business Name

Naming the business is a critical step. You can select a business name yourself, or you can hire a professional to do the search on availability and file the necessary forms.

For information on trade name availability and forms contact:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Trade Name Search and Registration
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 767-1340
http://www.dat.state.md.us

For information on corporate name availability and forms, contact:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Corporate Name Availability
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 767-1340
www.dat.state.md.us

Register a Trade Name

You may register a "trade name" with the Department of Assessments and Taxation. A trade name, is the name by which a business is known to the public to distinguish it from another business or person.

For information on trade name availability and forms contact:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Trade Name Search and Registration
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 767-1340
www.dat.state.md.us


You may register a "trademark" with the Secretary of State's office. A trademark is a unique graphic symbol or logo associated with a business, which distinguishes it from another business or person.

For more information on trademark registration contact:

Trademark Division
Office of the Secretary of State
State House
Annapolis, MD 21401
www.sos.state.md.us

Obtain Business Personal Property Tax Information

In Maryland, businesses must pay an annual tax based on the value of their business personal property (furniture, fixtures, tools, machinery, equipment, etc.). The Department of Assessments and Taxation administers the valuation process while the counties and towns collect the tax based on the location of the property.

The Department automatically registers corporations, limited liability companies, limited partnerships, and limited liability partnerships for this tax when these legal entities form. All other businesses (sole proprietorships, general partnerships) that own or lease personal property or need a business license are required to: 1) obtain an identification number by registering with the Department of Assessments and Taxation, and 2) file an annual business personal property return. For information regarding business personal property assessments contact:

State Department of Assessments and Taxation
Business Personal Property Division
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone - sole proprietors, general partnerships: (410) 767-4991
Telephone - legal entities: (410) 767-1170
www.dat.state.md.us

Obtain Federal, State, and Local Tax Information

All businesses must fulfill their tax obligations to the federal government and the State of Maryland.

Maryland Tax Registration
For information on obtaining and completing registration documents for the State of Maryland contact:

Taxpayer Registration Assistance Center
Comptroller of Maryland, Central Registration Unit
301 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: 1-800-638-2937
http://www.comp.state.md.us

Other local taxes in Maryland require no additional registration. If you have questions about county and local taxes, contact the City of College Park's Finance Department at 240-487-3509.

Federal Taxation Requirements-Internal Revenue Service
New businesses should contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to register for: an employer identification number; income tax- business and employee withholding; social security; federal unemployment insurance; and other federal taxes. The IRS provides business kits for three types of businesses: sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations.

For additional information, contact:

Internal Revenue Service
31 Hopkins Plaza
Baltimore, MD 21201
Telephone: (410) 962-2590
Toll-free: (800) 829-1040
http://www.irs.gov/

Check County and City Zoning Requirements

Be sure you choose a location properly zoned for your business activity. Other factors to consider include regulations on business signs and parking at the location. If you are planning to operate a business from home, you will need to consider whether your community or county restricts home-based businesses.

To ensure that the type of business you plan to conduct will be allowed in the zone within which your site is located, check first with the City’s Planning Department by calling (240) 487-3538.

Check State and City License Requirements

A State of Maryland Business License is required for most businesses, including retailers and wholesalers. A traders license is required for buying and re-selling. Business activities that require licenses include, but are not limited to: amusements; auctions; chain stores; construction; dry cleaners; farm machinery; garages; hawkers and peddlers; junk dealers; plumbing and gas fitters; restaurants; retail stores; storage warehouses; traders; and, vending machines. To determine whether your particular business activity requires licensing by the State, and needs to have any additional licenses and permits, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which your business will be located.

The City of College Park does not license businesses. However, certain businesses may be required to obtain a valid Prince George's County Business License. To determine if your business requires this license please contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court at 301-952-3331.

You can get more information on State and local business license requirements from:

Department of Business and Economic Development
Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation

Obtain and Complete Application for Maryland Business License

Applications for the Maryland business license may be obtained from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county in which your business will be located. 

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation
500 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Telephone: (410) 230-6000
http://www.dllr.state.md.us

Obtain Occupancy Permits

Every business owner in College Park is required to have two occupancy permits: a Use and Occupancy Permit (“U & O”) issued by Prince George’s County Department of Permitting, Inspections, and Enforcement (DPIE) and an annual Non-Residential Occupancy Permit issued by the City of College Park. The City’s Non-Residential Occupancy Permit is a issued to applicants who have a valid DPIE Use and Occupancy Permit.

A. To obtain a County Use and Occupancy Permit (“U & O”) from Prince George’s County DPIE, call at (301) 883-5776 or by visiting the Permits Center at 9400 Peppercorn Place, 1st Floor, Largo, MD, 20774. The permit center offers a walk-through process designed to make your application process fast and efficient.

1.  When applying for a Use and Occupancy Permit (“U & O”) from the County, consider the following:

  • A non-refundable filing fee will be required to process your permit application.
  • Applicants must supply two (2) copies of their site plan and the land/tax account number with their application.

2. To obtain a site plan or account number, contact the Prince George’s County Planning Department at 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive, Upper Marlboro, MD, 20772 or by calling (301) 952-3594.

  • The “U & O” is a one-time permit, unless business ownership or use changes.
  • The “U & O” must be properly displayed at the business site.
  • In order to complete your permit application, schedule an inspection by contacting the Zoning Enforcement Section of the Property Standards Group at (301) 883-6043.

B. To obtain an annual City Non-Residential Occupancy Permit, you must complete a Commercial Inspection Information Sheet from the City’s Department of Public Services at 4601A Calvert Road, College Park, MD 20740.  When obtaining a City Non-Residential Occupancy Permit, consider the following:

  • You must show a copy of your valid County Use and Occupancy Permit to complete your City permit application.
  • A fee is required to receive your City Non-Residential Occupancy Permit.
  • After submitting your Commercial Inspection Information Sheet, an inspection will be scheduled.
  • Non-Residential Occupancy Permits must be renewed annually, or you may be subject to City fines. A fee is required with each renewal application.

Obtain Building and Construction Permits

If you intend to do any construction, renovations, alterations, removal or demolition to your proposed site, separate building permits from both the County and City are required.   County Construction Permits may be obtained from the DPIE’s Permits Center at 9400 Peppercorn Place, 1st Floor, Largo, MD, 20774. Discuss with the Permits Center your planned construction to determine which specific permits are required. You may be able to apply for your County Use and Occupancy Permit and Construction permits at the same time. Check with the Permits Center to determine the business days and times to apply.

For every County permit issued for building or construction related activity, a City permit must also be obtained. A City Permit Application can be obtained and submitted to the City’s Department of Public Services at 4601A Calvert Road, College Park, MD 20740.

Signage Permit

Every business with exterior signage is required to have two sign permits: a Sign Permit issued by Prince George’s County DPIE and a Sign Permit issued by City of College Park.

A. To obtain a County Sign Permit from Prince George’s County DPIE, contact DPIE's Permits and Review Group by visiting the DER’s Permits Center at 9400 Peppercorn Place, 1st Floor, Largo, MD, 20774. Sign Permits may be walked through on any regular business day, but call the office to confirm exact times. When obtaining a County Sign Permit, applicants must supply site plans, specific sign drawings, and a fee.

B. After securing County approval for your sign(s), it will be necessary to obtain a City Sign Permit for each individual sign you plan to display. A City Permit Application can be obtained and submitted to City’s Department of Public Services at 4601A Calvert Road, College Park, MD 20740.

Parking

Make sure that the site you are pursuing to operate your business has sufficient parking based on your use and needs.

The City has public on-street parking, several pay lots, and a downtown parking garage for visitors and monthly parking pass holders. Contact the City’s Parking Enforcement office with any specific parking related questions at (240) 487-3520.

Obtain A Liquor License

The Board of License Commissioners for Prince George’s County administers and enforces the Alcoholic Beverage Laws of the State of Maryland and the local rules and regulations. To get more information on what licenses are available and the process to apply, contact the Liquor Control Board at (301) 699-2770.

Other Permits and Business Considerations

Based on your business use, several other County and City permits may be required to operate your business. Discuss at the County Permits Center your intended use to ensure that all required permits have been obtained. If a County permit is administered, check with the City’s Department of Public Services to determine if a similar City permit is required.

Are you planning to operate a business from your home, and need to know if a permit is required?

Some home occupations require County Use and Occupancy permits and some do not. Call the County Planning Information Services at (301) 952-3208 or the DPIE at (301) 952-3195 to determine whether your home business applies. If a DPIE Use and Occupancy Permit is required, a City Non-Residential Occupancy Permit is also required.