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Franklin D. Edmondson, MCR
Commissioner of the Revenue
City Hall Building
801 Crawford Street
Portsmouth, VA. 23704
(757) 393-8771


Office of the Commissioner of The Revenue
Business and Professional License

General Information

All businesses and professional operations must purchase a business license before commencing operation in the City of Portsmouth, including home based businesses. (City Ordinance Section 20-6) City Business, Professional and Alcoholic Beverage Licenses expire December 31st of that calendar year.

In order to obtain a Portsmouth City Business License, you must have a definite place of business. A definition of a business is an office or location where a regular and continuous course of dealing with the public occurs. In the City of Portsmouth, zoning laws may prohibit your business from operating at certain locations, such as a residence. The address for your business must be approved by our Permits & Inspections department. A lease or some type of written documentation must be presented for this approval.

Any person, partnership, limited liability partnership, limited liability company or corporation using the name which does not identify the owner of the business must register a trade name with the Portsmouth Circuit Court. Registering this name does not prevent your business name from being used by another business. It is done to assist the public by providing information as to the person with whom the public will be dealing. There is a fee to register this name. This fee is paid to the Portsmouth Circuit Court.


Cost of Business Licensure

The cost of the business license is based upon your estimate of total gross receipts from the day the business opens to December 31st of the same year.  There are usually Three (3) general terms that apply to new Businesses: New License, First Renewal License, Annual Renewal License.

If the estimate is less than $100,000, the license will cost $50.00 which is the minimum tax. If, however, the estimate is greater than $100,000, a tax rate will be applied to your estimate. There are different rates for different types of businesses as follows:


License Category* Rates
Finance, Real Estate and Professional Services 58 cents per $100
Business Services 36 cents per $100
Personal Services 36 cents per $100
Repair Services 36 cents per $100
Contractor 16 cents per $100
Retail Sales 20 cents per $100
Wholesale Merchant 15 cents per $100 of gross purchases.
Rental License $12.00 per unit per year ($1.00/Month)
Direct Seller License 20 cents per $100 gross receipts with no threshold.

Some types of businesses (such as contractors, restaurants, beauty shops, nail and tanning salons, etc.) may have additional requirements from other city departments, such as the Department of Public Health, or from the state agencies, such as the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation, before a City of Portsmouth license can be issued.


Business License Applications

Business license applicants must apply in person. Allow at least one hour to complete the application process. New Businesses must obtain a zoning permit from the Portsmouth Department of Permits and Inspections before visiting our office.

To help streamline your application process, be sure to bring these important documents with you:

  • Identification (picture ID - all parties)
  • Corporate Charter (if applicable)
  • Partnership Agreement (if applicable)
  • Estimate of Gross Receipts through December 31st
  • Required Permits/Licenses (if applicable)
  • Required receipts, certificates, and forms from the applicable agencies
    Fee Required.


Other numbers to call when you need to:

Incorporate Virginia State Corp. Commission 804-371-9733
Set up Corporate & Personal Income tax, Sales & Use tax & Employee Withholding Virginia Dept. of Taxation
Office of Customer Services
Post Office Box 1115
Richmond, VA 23218-1115
Obtain a Federal ID Number Internal Revenue Service 800-829-1040
Register for UEI Virginia Employment Commission 757-455-3900
Obtain a Class A, B, C, Contractors License and/or permits Virginia State Board of Contractors 804-367-8500

Obtain a State Licensure Virginia Dept. of Occupational and Professional Regulation 804-367-8500
Obtain an ABC License Virginia Alcohol & Beverage Control 757-424-6700
Register a Trade Name Portsmouth Circuit Court 757-393-8671



City of Portsmouth, Virginia · All Rights Reserved · Portsmouth City Hall · 801 Crawford Street · Portsmouth, VA 23704 · 757-393-8000