City of Bethlehem

Business Start-Up Guide

Business 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
(610) 865-7088
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.

Economic Development
(610) 865-7056
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.

Fire Department
(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.

Health Bureau
(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.

Recycling Bureau
(610) 865-7082
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 assistance.

Tax Bureau
(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
(610) 865-7070
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
(610) 865-7123
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.

Business Start-up Guide
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