Guide to opening a businesses in York

A top tourism destination, York is also a great destination for business. The historic and picturesque city has is attracting new businesses in digital and creative industries, and has a growing science and technology sector. It is also home to well-established professional service and retail sectors. York's diverse economy offers new businesses a range of supports to help them grow.

Licences and Permits

Certain businesses require licences and permits to operate in York. These must be acquired before opening the business. Without a property licence or permit, a business can be shut down or fined by the City of York Council. A premises licence is needed when a business is supplying alcohol or providing regulated entertainment (for example, indoor sports events and showing films). An application for this licence must be displayed on the business premise for 28 days before opening. Street trading consent is needed for any business that intends to sell items in the street or on land that is publicly accessible. Other examples of business permits and licences include club premises certificates and child performance, taxi and gambling licences. A full list of business licences and permits issued by the City of York Council is found at

All new food businesses must be registered with the City of York Council at least 28 days before opening. Most food businesses must have a written food safety management system outlining details on how food is prepared, staff training, cleaning schedules and record-keeping. All staff must also be properly trained and supervised. Anyone looking to open a new food business in York should review information from the Food Standards Agency and the Council's food standards outlining requirements related to the labelling and composition of food.

Business Rates

Business rates must be paid on most commercial property in York, including shops, restaurants, offices, factories, warehouses and other business premises. Bills are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of the commercial property by a national multiplier that is set by the UK government each year. Rate relief is available for small businesses if the business property has a rateable value of less than £18,000. Business rate relief may also be available for businesses looking to locate in empty properties within the Acomb Business Development District.

Health and Safety

Business owners are legally responsible for ensuring their premises are healthy and safety for anyone who may be there working or visiting. This includes staff, contractors, customers, clients and others. Businesses must make sure that all equipment such as machinery is suitable and safe. They must also plan work activities that are safe and without health risks, provide protective equipment when needed, and share health and safety information and provide training. Businesses are also required to record and in certain circumstances report accidents.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is responsible for health and safety in large businesses premises, such as manufacturing premises, construction and demolition sites, dentist and doctors surgeries, and car repair businesses. A new business should delegate responsibility to health and safety, which could be a contractor, manager, member of staff or another qualified and competent person. This person provides health and safety advice to management.

The City of York Council is responsible for health and safety in about 4,500 commercial premises. It inspects businesses to ensure workplaces are safe for staff and visitors, and it investigates complaints, accidents and other health and safety workplace issues. The Council is responsible for health and safety in warehouses, offices, shops, hotels, public houses, animal boarding and horse riding establishments, most catering premises, day nurseries, hairdressers and beauty salons, builders merchants, laundrettes and dry cleaners, residential care homes, and tyre and exhaust premises.

Support for New Businesses

Getting the right support and advice is essential for new businesses. York offers a range of business networks, mentoring and learning opportunities. The city has several business and sector-specific networks that support new businesses, including Fashion City York, Visit York and Science City York. Make York brings together young professionals and entrepreneurs. Networks are essential for sharing experiences and best practice, as well as forming partnerships that can take a business to the next level. Business Support York & North Yorkshire offers an opportunity for anyone starting a new business to talk to a qualified Business Support Specialist about their idea as well as how to find funding and open their business. A wealth of information for new businesses is available from York Means Business, an online resource from the City of York Council's Make It York initiative.

There are several skills development and training opportunities to help entrepreneurs before they open their business. From business planning and bookkeeping training to marketing and tax compliance, local training providers have a variety of opportunities and resources. Business Support York & North Yorkshire delivers free business start-up workshops, while WorkAge provides individuals who are over 50, unemployed or facing redundancy with the chance to learn about using their skills for self-employment. York St John University Business School prepares businesses for their first year with coaching and active through the Acorn Programme. Leadership and management training as well as other business-related courses on everything from health and safety to customer service are available from the University of York, York College, Science City York, and York St John University.

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