If you are looking to start a business in Jacksonville, there are a lot of things to consider. Have you selected a location? Is the building or space suitable for your type of business? Do you know what inspections or permits you need? 

Understanding the many ordinances and requirements for building use and occupancy can be overwhelming, but the City of Jacksonville is here to help! In our Small Business Help Sessions hosted bi-monthly, business owners meet one-on-one with experts from the City's Building Inspection, Community Planning and Fire Prevention divisions to receive guidance and information to help them operate their businesses safely and efficiently. 

Small Business Help Sessions

The City of Jacksonville's Small Business Help Sessions are held twice a month for citizens opening businesses in Jacksonville. If you have zoning, building, or fire code questions, fill out the online form below to register for a half-hour consultation.

These individual consultations are scheduled by appointment only. Please be prepared to share site plans, leases, occupancy information and any other materials for review. To maximize your session, review the frequently asked questions below.

Topics covered include:

  • Permits (Building Inspection) 

  • Zoning (Planning and Development Department)

  • Fire Inspections (Fire and Rescue Department)

  • Certificates of Use (COU)

Location

Ed Ball Building, 2nd Floor Conference Room
214 N. Hogan St.
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Small Business Help Sessions Online Form

Contact Information

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Business Information

Please describe in as much detail as possible the business you are intending to start (office, hair salon, daycare, church, used car sales, art studio, etc.)
If you have a location in mind, please provide the address, including the unit number, if applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Building Inspections | Zoning and Land Use | Fire Inspections 

Get the most out of your half-hour session by reviewing these frequently asked questions. Experts in the City's Building Inspections, Land Use and Zoning and Fire Prevention divisions have provided answers to questions they often hear from citizens. 

Building Inspections

To promote public safety at Jacksonville businesses, the Building Inspection Division helps ensure that existing and future developments and construction comply with the Florida Building Codes and local building ordinances.

Why do I need a building permit?

A building permit is required by law to ensure minimum requirements are met in commercial buildings and spaces to safeguard public health, safety and general welfare.

What do I need to know before buying or leasing a commercial building or space?

Before buying or leasing space, it is strongly advised that a potential tenant/owner check with the Building Inspection Division to confirm that their intended use of the building or space is the same as the classification in the Building and Fire Codes. There are multiple use/occupancy classifications in the codes. It is important to note that just because a property is zoned properly for your organization or business that does not necessarily mean that the building/space has the proper occupancy classification. If your intended use of the building or space does not match the use/occupancy classification, a building permit for Converting Use will be required. Please note that if you have a new business, your business is expanding, or you are changing the use of your commercial building or space, you must submit an Application for Certificate of Use (COU).

How do I obtain a permit for changing the use of a facility?

In order to ensure the safety of the occupants, a building permit for Converting Use is required whenever the use/occupancy classification (as determined by the Building and Fire Codes) of the building or space is changed. A building permit for Converting Use will require, at a minimum, a life safety plan and code summary provided by a Florida-licensed design professional. The design professional’s review of the space will determine if other changes to the space are required.  These changes could include, but are not limited to, requiring the installation of a fire sprinkler system, fire alarm system, additional exit doors, additional restrooms, and changes to the electrical or mechanical systems.

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Zoning and Land Use

The Community Planning Division is part of the City's Planning & Development Department, and is charged with reviewing land use map and zoning requests for consistency with the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

What is a Certificate Of Use (COU)? Why do I need one?

By law, every business in the City of Jacksonville opened after May 29, 2006 needs a COU - a three part review by Zoning, Fire Marshall, and Building Inspection officials that ensures the use of a facility meets all applicable state and local laws and ordinances. Once approved by all three, the owner will receive a certificate to be displayed at his or her business. If denied, a letter with an explanation will be mails. Forty-five days are granted to correct the problem before a Code Enforcement inspection.

You can pick up a COU Application from the Development Services Division on the 2nd floor of the Ed Ball Building, 214 N. Hogan St 

Can I run a business out of my home?

Businesses run from residences must meet the 11 criteria in the home occupation disclosure statement, as found on the Development Services Division web page.

What’s the difference between a home occupation disclosure statement and a COU?

Home occupations do not need a COU, but they do need the disclosure statement. A home occupation disclosure statement is a statement that lists the items that a home owner must comply with in order to operate a business from his or her home.

Should I get my business tax receipt first, or my COU?

Check your zoning and uses first; then get the tax receipt; and then apply for a COU.

Can I park my truck/van in front of my home?

Generally no, but for details, please refer to Sec. 656.411 of the City’s Ordinance Code.

How can I verify the land use and/or zoning of my property?

Zoning and Land Use information can be found by using the city's online mapping information system

  • Click on “Duval Property” > Type in the Real Estate Number or Property Address and Select “Search.”

  • Select “Layers” at the top of the page. Click on the “+” next to “Land Base,” and check the box next to Land Use or Zoning – whichever information you’re looking for.

  • Click directly on the parcel shown on the map to identify which Zoning District or Land Use Category the parcel is located within. 

Note: The City of Atlantic Beach, City of Neptune Beach, City of Jacksonville Beach, and the Town of Baldwin maintain their own zoning and building departments and zoning regulations are administered separately from the Consolidated City of Jacksonville/Duval County.

What uses are allowed in my zoning district? Where can I find information on the setbacks, maximum lot coverage, and height requirements for my zoning district?

For questions relating to the Zoning Code, zoning verification, permitting, application processes for zoning changes, and Requests for Reasonable Accommodation pursuant to the federal Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact the Current Planning Division.

I need a letter that confirms the zoning of my property. What do I need to do?

If written documentation of zoning classification is required for a lender, real estate transaction or similar purpose, a Zoning Confirmation Letter may be requested. Please contact the Planning and Development Department.

I am considering rezoning, or changing the use of my property. What do I need to do?

A Certificate of Use application (COU) is required for any change in the use of a property. Prior to filling out and submitting forms, it is recommended that you consult with Planning Department staff and schedule a pre-application meeting.  

Where can I find applications online? Can they be downloaded and submitted online?

At the present time, only rezoning applications, land use applications, minor modifications, and verifications of substantial compliance can be completed online: http://maps.coj.net/luzap/.

All other applications must be turned in as hard copies to:

Ed Ball Building, 2nd floor
214 N Hogan Street
Jacksonville, Florida, 32202&nb