Starting a Business

Starting a Business in Prince William County

Opening a new business is a significant investment of financial and personal resources. New businesses are important to the financial health of the County. The County wants to assist you through the regulatory process to ensure your business has a positive impact on the community/neighborhood, is safe to occupy, and opens as quickly as possible.

This Web page provides an overview of the various regulatory requirements to open your business. Since each business and its proposed location are unique, it is important to note that this is a general overview, and there will be variations among projects.

1. Before Purchasing a Building or Signing a Lease - Ask the current building owner or the leasing company to provide information on the current status of the site, building, and tenant space to determine the impact of the existing conditions on the process of opening your business.

If the current building owner or leasing agent cannot provide any or all of the above information, contact or visit the County offices. The Planning/Zoning Office and the Building Development Division of the Department of Development services are located in the Development Services Building at 5 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA 22192.

2. Project Management

  • Project Team – If you do not have experience in the design and construction process, consider hiring a consultant, architect, engineer, or contractor to act as your project manager. A project manager is typically responsible for coordinating and tracking your project through the entire process: purchasing/leasing property, design, permitting, construction and inspections. Deficient project management will result in delays and additional costs to you as a business owner.
  • Scope of Work – It is critical to establish how you need the space to be designed for your business, and the technical requirements needed to support the space design. Once a realistic scope of work is established, your project manager can provide an estimated project schedule and project budget.

3. Determine and Register Trade Name - It is beneficial to complete this process before requesting Zoning approval, so the Zoning approval will be issued under the correct business name.

4. Business Licensing - Prince William County requires a County Business License. Typically the business license is issued after an Occupancy Permit is issued.

5. Planning/Zoning Approval

  • Home Office/Business - If you are starting a business from your home without employees or customers coming to your home, you must obtain a home occupation permit.
  • New Building or Building Addition - If you are constructing a new building or an addition, an engineer will need to develop a Site Plan for review and approval by the County. Before the engineer begins the design work, the existing Zoning should be evaluated for the proposed use. Also, the engineer should contact the Prince William County Service Authority to coordinate water/sewer design issues.
  • Existing Building - Please contact or visit the Zoning Counter with the property information. Based on the existing Zoning of the property/building, a determination will be made on the level of Zoning Approval required (i.e. Zoning Approval, Site Plan, Provisional Use Permit, Special Use Permit, or Rezoning).

6. Building Code Approval – Please review the section on Use Groups & Certificate of Occupancy. To determine if a Virginia registered architect, professional engineer, or contractor must prepare the design/plans, refer to Registered Design Professional Sealing of Plans (Policy 1.11).