Business Licenses

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    Asheville welcomes your business to our city! The City of Asheville's Development Services Department is available to assist you in completing your business license application and answer any related questions you might have.

    A business license is sometimes referred to as a privilege license. It raises funds for general municipal purposes, including public safety, refuse collection, and parks and recreation. Payment of this fee authorizes the privilege of operating the business. A business license is required to conduct any business, trade, profession, occupation, or selling of goods within the Asheville corporate limits. Everyone operating a business has the duty to determine whether the business is subject to City Ordinance number 1918. (Get more information about city ordinances.)

    Frequently Asked Questions about Business/Privilege Licenses

    How can a privilege license be obtained?

    You may download the Business Privilege License Application and Affidavit.  Applications are also available at the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street,  or by calling (828) 259-5846, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Are there any other permits required by the City of Asheville?

    Yes, depending on the location or type of business you will need to obtain either a Home Occupation permit or Tenant Occupancy even if no construction is involved.  A Commercial Building permit is required for all alterations or additions prior to commencing work.  A link to all Development Services Department forms can be found here.

    How are the license fee amounts determined?

    Some are regulated by the state with a set amount for the service or goods sold. Others are based on the gross sales or receipts for the preceding year. An affidavit is required for all licenses based on gross receipts.

    Are there penalties for failure to purchase a privilege license?

    Yes. Conducting business within the city without paying the privilege license tax imposed by ordinance number 1918 and without posting a valid license is a misdemeanor. Each day business is conducted in violation of the ordinance is a separate offense.

    Who is exempt from purchasing a privilege license?

    Any business engaged in religious, educational, or charitable purposes is exempt. Any blind person engaging in business within the city is exempt. Any person serving in any branch of the Armed Forces of the United States or in the Merchant Marine and engaging business within the city is exempt for the duration of their service. Anyone claiming an exemption may be required to provide documentation confirming exempt status. Certain types of business occupations are exempt by state statutes. A listing of exempt occupations is on file in the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street.

    Where can I get a copy of the privilege license ordinance and the rates for each classification?

    A copy is on file for viewing by the public in the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street; copies may be purchased at a cost of $.25 per page.

    Are privilege license records public information?

    All affidavits or other records of gross receipts shall remain private and confidential and shall not be disclosed. Verification of a business’s purchase of a privilege license may be made by calling the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street at (828) 259-5846.

    When are privilege license fees due?

    Beer and wine licenses are issued for the time period May 1 through April 30 of each year. Other licenses are issued for the time period July 1 through June 30 of each year.

    Will I be notified before my privilege license expires?

    Yes. A renewal notice is mailed to current license holders approximately 30 days prior to expiration.

    What is the penalty for late payment?

    A 5% late penalty is assessed after 30 days. It increases an additional 5% for each additional month payment is late.

    What should I do if I believe my license fee is incorrect or if I believe there is an error on my license?

    You should call or come by the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street. You may be required to provide documentation to support suspected errors.

    When must the business owner report changes?

    The licensee must immediately notify the Development Services Department of any changes in location, services, or goods sold. Failure to do so within 30 days of such change shall cause all licenses issued to be revoked.

    If I have more than one business operating within the corporate city limits, will one license stand for all locations?

    No. A separate license shall be required for each place of business.

    Additional information may be obtained by calling or visiting the Development Services Department, 161 S. Charlotte Street. Monday through Thursday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.


    Contact Information
    City of Asheville
    Development Services Department
    Hours: Monday to Thursday from 7:30am to 5:30pm
    Physical Address: 161 South Charlotte Street; Asheville, North Carolina 28801
    Mailing Address: PO Box 7148; Asheville, North Carolina 28802
    Phone: (828) 259-5846
    Fax: (828) 259-5676

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