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.

Download the COU Application or pick one up 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?

Once you know your Zoning District, please refer to the Zoning District Descriptions.

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. Further instructions for preparing that request are available at Applications-Planning and Development Information Request.

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. You can download the applicable form on the Planning & Development Department web page. 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?

City of Jacksonville Zoning Applications can be found on the Planning & Development Department web page. All applications are in an uneditable format and are available for download. 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 

How long does an exception, variance, or conventional rezoning process take? What about administrative deviations and waivers?

  • Rezoning (change of zoning district) applications for both conventional zoning districts and Planned Unit Developments (PUDs) are held in a series of Public Hearings before the Planning Commission, the City Council Land Use and Zoning Committee, and the full City Council at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St. Applications need to be turned in and all fees paid by the deadline so that the hearings can be scheduled for the next available Public Hearing. During this time, the applicant will be required to post signs (supplied by the Department) of the proposed change on the subject property and notifications will be mailed to owners of property within 350 feet of the subject property. The entire rezoning process generally takes 10-12 weeks from the time of submittal.

  • Hearings for Administrative Deviation applications are held in a Public Hearing before the Zoning Administrator. Applications need to be turned in and all fees paid by the deadline so that they can be scheduled for the next available Public Hearing. Notices will be mailed to owners of property within 350 feet of the subject property. After the Public Hearing, the Zoning Administrator has up to twenty-one (21) days to render a decision. Administrative Deviations generally take 4-6 weeks from the time of submittal.

  • Waivers of Road Frontage and Sign Waiver applications are held in a Public Hearing before the Land Use and Zoning Committee of City Council and then go before the full City Council at City Hall, 117 W. Duval St. Once an Application has been turned in and all fees paid, it will be scheduled to be heard before City Council at the next available Public Hearing. During this time, the applicant will be required to post signs (supplied by the Department) of the proposed change on the subject property and notifications will be mailed to owners of property within 350 feet of the subject property. Generally, Waivers of Road Frontage and Sign Waivers take about 6-8 weeks from the time of submittal.

  • Zoning Exceptions (conditional use permits), Variances (relief from the conditions of the Code), Minor Modifications to the terms of a Planned Unit Development, Cell Tower Waivers, Waivers of Minimum Distance Requirements for Liquor Sales, and Waiver of Architectural and Aesthetic Requirements are held in a Public Hearing before the Planning Commission. Once an Application has been turned in and all fees paid, it will be scheduled to be heard before the Planning Commission at the next available meeting. During this time, the applicant will be required to post signs (supplied by the Department) of the proposed change on the subject property and notifications will be mailed to owners of properties within 350 feet of the subject property. These applications generally take between 6-8 weeks from the time of submittal. 

What is the 2030 Comprehensive Plan?

Florida's Growth Management Act requires all of Florida's counties and municipalities to adopt Local Government Comprehensive Plans that guide future growth and development. The City of Jacksonville 2030 Comprehensive Plan contains chapters or 'elements' that address Capital Improvements, Conservation Coastal Management, Future Land Use, Historic Preservation, Housing, Infrastructure, Intergovernmental Coordination, Public School Facilities, Recreation and Open Space and Transportation.
 
Learn more about the 2030 Comprehensive Plan.

How do the future land use categories and the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) relate to zoning?

Future land use categories and the FLUM identify the general type of uses (i.e. residential, commercial, industrial) and the range of densities and intensities permitted in an area of the city. Zoning sets out the specific details for development of a specific property such as specific permitted uses, lot dimensions, building setbacks, buffering and parking requirements.  In order to develop or use a property, the land use and zoning must be compatible with one another. When the planned use of a property is not consistent with either or both the land use and zoning, a land use map amendment and/or a rezoning application may be filed with the Planning and Development Department to request a change that accommodates the planned activities.    

  • Land use category example: Residential land use categories include Rural Residential (RR), Low Density Residential (LDR), Medium Density Residential (MDR) and High Density Residential (HDR).  The RR land use category allows primarily single-family development at up to two (2) dwelling units per acre and LDR allows single and multi-family at up to seven (7) dwelling units per acre.

  • Zoning example: The RLD-60 zoning district permits single-family dwellings on 6,000 square-foot-lots and requires a 20 foot setback from the front property line, a five (5) foot setback from the side property lines and a ten (10) foot setback form the rear property line.  The structure can be up to 35 feet in height and can cover up to 50% of the lot area.  The RLD-60 zoning district is consistent with the LDR land use category but not the RR land use category. 

How do I verify the land use of my property?

Land Use information can be found by using the city's online mapping information system or by contacting a Land Use Section planner at CommunityPlanning@coj.net.

Where can I find a description of land use categories?

The land use categories are described in the Plan Categories Section of the 2030 Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Element (FLUE).  View the Future Land Use Element.

What is the land use amendment process?

The process differs based on the size of the site:

How do I file a land use amendment application?

Applications are filed online through the Land Use and Zoning Application Portal (LUZAP).  

What are the land use amendment application fees?

This application fee schedule describes applicable amendment application fees. 

Who do I contact to find out more information about a property located in a Development of Regional Impact (DRI)?

Helena Parola, City Planner Supervisor, (904) 255-7842
Rosario Lacayo, City Planner II, (904) 255-7844

How do I contact the Community Planning Division?

Visit the Community Planning Division's Contact Us page or send an email to CommunityPlanning@coj.net.  

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Fire Prevention

The Fire Prevention Division of the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department conducts safety inspections on commercial properties, issues fire permits, reviews building plans and offers fire safety education programs.

Will a fire extinguisher purchased from a retail hardware store satisfy the fire code requirement for fire extinguishers?

No. Fire extinguishers must be tagged by a state certified fire extinguisher company.

Are monitoring services required for fire alarm and sprinkler systems?

Yes. Fire alarm and sprinkler systems must be monitored in order to provide notification to first responders in the event of an emergency.

Am I required to have a fire safety inspection every year?

Yes. Both city ordinance and state law require municipalities with fire safety responsibility to conduct routine fire safety inspections. Pursuant to City Ordinance, 31.501, the City of Jacksonville has fire safety responsibilities.

Can I operate an assisted living facility out of my home without installing a sprinkler system?

Under both the Building Code and Fire Code, an