Business Licenses

Who Needs A Business License?

IF you:

  • Advertise or otherwise hold yourself out to the public as offering goods or services for sale; or
  • File a federal Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ "Profit or Loss from a Business"; or
  • File other tax returns, schedules and documents required only of a business, or of persons engaged in a trade or business; or
  • Operate a short term rental (Vacation Rental); or 
  • Are paid as a 1099 independent contractor

AND you:

  • Have or use an office, retail space or commercial or industrial space, vacation rental, etc. in James City County;

Or, if you have no such space, you:

  • Are a resident of James City County, or
  • Operate a food truck in James City County, or
  • Are a contractor who lives or works in James City County,

You must apply for a James City County Business, Professional, and Occupational License (BPOL) within 10 days of the start of business. Refer to Guidelines for Business License Applicants for any other requirements, depending on your entity type, your location, or your business model. Once a business has a license account in James City County, it must renew by March 1 annually (regardless of level of gross receipts) or close the account in writing. Non-filers are subject to administrative assessments.

Out-of-Area Contractors

Additionally, out-of-area state-licensed contractors performing work here may need a James City County business license. They must apply within 10 days of beginning work in James City County, unless calendar year gross receipts are expected to be below $25,000. However, once a contractor has a business license account in James City County, it must either renew by March 1 annually (regardless of level of gross receipts), or close the account in writing. Non-filers are subject to administrative assessments. See Contractor’s Business License Application Checklist for details.

Other Licensing Requirements

A local business license is a revenue, not regulatory, license. Depending on your trade or professional, you may also need a license from the Department of Occupational Regulation (DPOR), the Department of Health Professions (DHP), the Virginia Board of Medicine, or other professional board.

Home-Based Businesses

Businesses without a fixed, definite place of business (that is, no storefront, office, or industrial space) are, per the Code of Virginia, considered a home-based business. All home-based businesses must include an Application for Home Occupation with their business license application package.

Due Dates & Rates

Licenses must be renewed by March 1 annually. Payments for renewed business licenses are due by March 1.

Applications & Renewals

Business licenses must be renewed by March 1 annually. Returns postmarked or hand delivered after March 1 are subject to a 10% late filing penalty from the Commissioner of the Revenue. You may either pay with your renewal, or by the payment deadline of March 1. Non-filers will be assessed based on an estimate, plus penalty.

Basis of License Tax

For a beginning business, including a business newly located in James City County, the first year license tax is based on the business’s reasonable estimate of expected gross receipts. This estimate will be corrected to actual in the second year with either a credit or a supplemental billing. Estimate should be as close to actual as possible. Unreasonably low estimates are subject to correction plus 10% penalty. In the second year and every later year, the tax is based on prior year actual gross receipts. 

All business license applications are subject to minimum, nonrefundable $30 or $50 fee.

For More Information

BPOL tax guidelines and exemptions are established by the Code of Virginia. For business license information specific to your business model, call the Business License Inspector at 757-253-6698.

For more “How-to” information on starting/opening a business in James City County, please view the County’s business resources information that has been prepared by the Office of Economic Development.