Starting a Business

We know opening, expanding, or relocating a business is challenging, with no shortage of details, questions, and uncertainty.  Among these are the City permits you may need to open your doors.  This page provides an overview of things to keep in mind as you plan for your new (or moved) business.
Business License
Every business operating in the City requires a business license, which is issued by the City Clerk.  Please be aware that you will need a State of Washington business license and UBI number before you apply for your City license.  Contact Torchie Corey with any business licensing questions.

Certain businesses are not permitted in all areas of the City.  To learn whether your intended business location is zoned for your proposed business, or if you have any questions about home occupations, signs, or building permits, please contact Brooke Eidem.

  • Home Occupation.  If you are operating your business out of your home, you will need a home occupation permit in addition to your business license.  Home occupations are only issued for indoor activities with limited or no customer visits.
  • Signs.  Most new or modified signs require a sign permit to ensure consistency with the adopted sign standards.  Good signage will ensure that every business is visible and streetscapes remain un-cluttered. 
  • A-Boards.  A-board (sandwich board) signs do not require a sign permit, but are permitted only outside of the Historic District.  An A-board sign may be placed within the public right-of-way where it will not pose a safety hazard for pedestrians or motorists.  A-board sign standards include size restrictions.
  • Building Permits.  A building permit is required for some building modifications that may necessary to accommodate your business, such as demolition of walls, new plumbing fixtures, etc.

Assistance in Beginning a Business 
The State of Washington has created a guide to assist you in how to start a business.  Other helpful information from the State can be found at the following websites:
Useful Resources
The following agencies offer valuable resources to assist you as you plan your business:

Design Review
If your business is located in the City’s federally listed Historic District, exterior modifications (including signs) require prior approval from the Design Review Board.  The intent is to preserve the historic flavor of the district so that it will continue to be a regional attraction into the future.  For more information on the Historic District design standards and design review process, please contact Brooke Eidem.

Change of Use and Certificate of Occupancy

A Change of Use Application is required for all new businesses that represent a change in occupancy type for the space (such as a retail space changing to a restaurant, an office changing to retail, or a home changing to an office). The application is reviewed for compliance with all applicable codes including life safety requirements, zoning, and parking.  A Certificate of Occupancy is required before opening a new, reconfigured, or repurposed space to the public and will be issued following receipt of your business license application and a site visit by the Building Division staff.  Your Certificate of Occupancy lets your customers know that your business is in compliance with public health and safety requirements.  Contact Sharon Pettit with any questions on obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy.
Contact Us
You also have a resource in Debbie Emge, the City’s Economic Development Manager and business liaison.  Contact Debbie for more information regarding available properties, Snohomish demographics, and local economic incentives.

Let us help you by calling, clicking, or stopping by City Hall at 116 Union Avenue to speak to us in person.  Additional information can be found throughout the City’s website including permit applications and information sheets, the Snohomish Municipal Code, design standards, and much more.