Business Start-Up Guide
Start-up guide: reviews, permits, licenses
This "how to" guide is intended to help a business owner through
the steps needed to establish a location in the City of Bethlehem.
Once an owner has decided where to locate, the first place to
start is the Bureau of Code Enforcement where the Zoning staff
will determine if the proposed use is permitted in the zone.
Some business owners go through these steps on their own, but
often business owners hire an architect, engineer or general
contractor to obtain reviews, approvals and permits required
prior to building construction, building alterations, and occupancy.
Other permits and licenses required are usually sought by business
owners directly, such as health permits for food sales and tax
filings. Other services such as waste hauling, recycling, water
and sewer hook-up, and contract parking are usually handled
by business owners as well. The following information sorts
out which City of Bethlehem department is responsible for oversight
of these services. Department phone numbers are included.
Bureau of Code Enforcement
(610) 865-7091/TTD (610) 865-7086
Prior to occupancy of any building whether rented, leased
or purchased, you are required to obtain a Certificate of
Occupancy from the Bureau of Code Enforcement. This Bureau
is responsible for the following building related issues:
Zoning- Change of use or occupancy, signs (permanent
and temporary) Historic Districts and Conservation Districts.
Building- Construction, additions, alterations, demolition,
electrical, mechanical, plumbing, heating.
Bureau of Planning
New construction may need to be reviewed by the Planning Commission.
Subdivision and Land Development requirements and proposed
zoning changes are administered by the Bureau of Planning.
We encourage business location and expansion in the City of
Bethlehem through technical and site selection assistance
and financial programs. We liaison with Federal, State, and
City officials and private institutions on behalf of business
in related development matters.
(610) 865-7140/TTD (610) 865-7143
The Fire Department conducts acceptance testing and inspection
of permits issued by the Bureau of Code Enforcement for fire
alarms and fire detection systems, sprinkler and standpipe
systems (new and existing), tent and air supported structures,
and kitchen hood suppression systems. Permits are required
from the Fire Department for underground tanks (UST), installation,
removal, and alteration of tanks, product and vent lines,
flammable/combustible use storage, bonfires and open burning,
fireworks displays, and construction of helicopter landings.
(610) 865-7083/TTD (610) 865-7084
Contact the Bethlehem Health Bureau to obtain a list of trash
haulers for your business needs. If your business involves
food preparation, service or sales, contact the Environmental
Health Officer. Permits must be obtained for all food service
and retail/wholesale establishments including supermarkets,
restaurants, mobile vending, bars, delicatessens, convenience
stores, temporary food stands, etc.
While considering your floor space design, be sure to allow
for recycling containers. You are required by law to recycle
such materials as corrugated cardboard, mixed office paper,
aluminum, glass, and leaves. Many businesses have found that
they have saved money in trash hauling fees because they recycle
a bulk of waste. Contact the Recycling Bureau for further
(610) 865-7022/TTD (610) 865-7015
As a business owner, whether you are the sole employee or
you have many people working for you, you are responsible
for filing tax forms with the City of Bethlehem. Initially
you will apply for a Business License, and you will annually
file a Business Privilege and/or Mercantile Tax Return. Occupational
Privilege Taxes (forms BOP 1 through 3) and Earned Income
Taxes (forms 511, 512, 523, and 531) are all collected by
the Tax Bureau. Assistance with determining the appropriate
filing may be obtained by contacting the Tax Bureau.
Water and Sewer Department
Water and sewer service is administered by the City of Bethlehem.
Contact the Department for hook-up and turn-on procedures.
For after hours emergencies (4:30 p.m.-8:00 a.m.), please
call (610) 865-7077 or (610) 865-7074
Bethlehem Parking Authority
The Bethlehem Parking Authority manages and maintains all
public parking facilities in the City. It also manages all
of the metered parking whether on-street or in lots, and the
handicapped parking program. On-street loading zones are also
administered by the Bethlehem Parking Authority. Call the
Authority for more details.