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)


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 Florid