The Grand Rapids City Code requires certain businesses, designated by the City Commission, to obtain a City License before operating within the Grand Rapids City limits. A City license does not exempt businesses from obtaining proper State and County licenses when applicable.
Licensing Year and Fees
The City licensing year is July 1st through June 30th for all businesses. Our fees are based on a cost-recovery model and are reassessed each year to ensure accuracy; fees are not pro-rated and are non-refundable. Please consult the license application guidelines provided to ensure that you have everything in order before applying for your license.
Submitting an Application
Applications may be submitted by mail with a check payable to the GR City Treasurer for all applicable fees. Fees for applications submitted to the Clerk’s office in person may be paid by check, cash or by Visa, MasterCard or Discover. Any payments made with a card will be subject to a 2.5% service fee.
Any questions regarding the instructions or applications, please contact the City Clerk’s office at (616) 456-3016.
City License Categories
Licenses are listed alphabetically.
Ambucab Company and Driver
An Ambucab License is required for companies who use vehicles specifically designed to provide transportation services to people who are handicapped or whose mobility is impaired. All drivers must also obtain a City issued license before operating.
An Ambulance License is required for companies who provide for the transportation or transportation and treatment of any individual needing immediate medical attention.
Amusement devices are defined as any device, table, board or machine which is operated by depositing payment for entertainment.
Amusement Owner – No person who owns a coin-operated device shall permit the device to be operated in any public place unless the owner shall have obtained an owner’s license for the device.
Amusement Operator – No person shall permit the operation by the public of any coin-operated device at any location or upon any premises owned, operated or controlled by him or her unless an operator’s license shall have been obtained for the location or premises.
Amusement Owner/Operator – Where the owner and the operator of a coin-operated device are one and the same, only this license is required.
An Amusement Ride license is required for any business operating an amusement ride within the City of Grand Rapids. All rides must already be inspected and licensed through the State before applying for a City license.
A coin-operated car wash is any place open to the public where coin-operated machinery or devices are available for use by the public for the washing of vehicles.
A Dance Hall license is required for any room, hall or structure in which dancing is held or permitted and to which the public or any portion of the public is admitted with or without fee or charge.
Downtown Vendor and Sidewalk Vendor
A Downtown Vendor license is required for any person or business wanting to provide goods and/or services on the city sidewalks within the downtown area. Downtown Vendors own and operate their own carts, while Sidewalk Vendors operate licensed carts owned by another person/company.
Going out of Business Permit
Going out of Business Permits are State mandated and are required of any business intending to sell off inventory/stock before discontinuing business at a location.
A Home Occupation Class B or Class C license is required of any home based business as defined in Chapter 116 of the Grand Rapids City Ordinance. Home based businesses must also adhere to rules and regulations as set forth in the City Zoning Code.
Class B – Businesses that generate limited quantities of customer visitation and/or merchandise and service deliveries.
Class C – Businesses that involve overnight accommodations, such as a Bed and Breakfast or rooming and boarding houses. Most Class C licenses require a Special Land Use permit which is issued by the Zoning Department.
A Hotel/Motel license is required of any business operating as a hotel, motel, rooming house, or other place where transients are accommodated for sleeping or lodging purposes.
A Coin-Operated Laundry license is required of any business open to the public where coin-operated equipment for self-service laundering of clothes and other fabrics is available.
Local Government approval is required for new liquor licenses and new manufacturer licenses to be located in the City of Grand Rapids. Applications for Transfer of Ownership, Transfer of Interest or Transfer of Location do not require local government approval. Both the City Application and the State Application must be submitted when applying for a license.
A Live Entertainment permit is only needed when the business will have live acts performing in conjunction with on-site movies. A Live Entertainment Permit may only be issued to a business with an existing Motion Picture Theater license.
Mobile Food Vending Truck - Effective 9/22/16A Vending Truck license is required for any business serving or offering for sale food and/or beverages from a self-contained, fully enclosed vehicle including attached trailers for smokers or grills.
Mobile Vending Cart
A Mobile Vending Cart license is required for any business operating a vending cart outside of the Downtown area. A Mobile Vending Cart Operator license is required for any individual who is operating a licensed cart on behalf of the cart owner.
Mobile Vending Cart Guide
Mobile Vending Cart Application
Motion Picture Theater
A Motion Picture Theater license is required for any business engaged in the showing, presenting, conducting or exhibiting of any picture or pictures for commercial purposes, for profit or for any type of private gain.
Motor Vehicle Rental Agency
A Motor Vehicle Rental Agency license is required for any business renting or leasing motor vehicles without furnishing a driver, for a term or period of less than six (6) months. A business primarily engaged in motor vehicle repair or maintenance who only rents vehicles, commonly known as courtesy cars, to replace a vehicle in repair shall be exempt from needing this license.
A Noise Permit is required for any event which needs a noise variance to exceed the normal limits of the City Noise Control Ordinance, Chapter 151, Section 9.69 of the Grand Rapids City Code. This permit must be applied for at least 3 months prior to the event start date to allow for public comment.
A Parking Facility license is required for any plot, piece or parcel of land, or any building, ramp or structure used for temporarily storing ten (10) or more vehicles, where the vehicle owners are charged a fee and which is open to the general public. This license is not required for any parking provided by a landlord for tenant use.
A Pawnbroker license is required of any person, firm or corporation desiring to engage in the business of Pawnbroker.
Pedicab Company and Driver
A Pedicab license is required for any company providing transportation for the public using a multi-wheeled vehicle moved by human power. This includes, but is not limited to, cycle-rickshaws, cyclos, velotaxis, trishaws, biketaxis, and any other pushcart or rickshaw-type vehicle. All drivers must also obtain a City issued license before operating.
A Second Hand license is required for any person, firm, corporation or other entity whose business is that of dealing in, buying, selling, exchanging, storing or receiving secondhand goods, articles or merchandise of any kind.
A Snowplow Company license is required for any person or business operating a vehicle within, over or upon any street, sidewalk, highway or right-of-way of the City of Grand Rapids for the purpose of plowing, moving or removing any snow or ice. This license is not required for any snowplow operated solely on private property owned by the operator.
Solid Waste Hauler
A Solid Waste Hauler license is required for any person or business engaged in the business of collecting, transporting, delivering or disposing of Solid Waste in the City of Grand Rapids.
A Sound Truck is any vehicle, other than an emergency vehicle, which has attached a device for amplifying sound in order to broadcast sound outside of the vehicle.
Taxicab Company and Driver
A Taxicab Company license is required for any person or company regularly engaged in the business of carrying passengers for hire specifically those in which a metered fare is assessed. All drivers must also obtain a City issued license before operating.
Taxicab Company Application
Taxicab Driver Application
Drug Test Release Form
Taxicab Zones - Update Pending
A Transient Merchant license is required of any person or business which travels from place to place offering goods/services for sale and/or soliciting business of any kind within the City. This license includes, but is not limited to, hawkers, peddlers, solicitors and vendors.
Valet Parking - Effective 9/14/16
A Valet license is required for any business performing or offering valet services as provided for below:
Valet Company – any person/business performing valet services in the City of Grand Rapids that makes use of the public right-of-way.
Fixed Valet Location – any location which contracts with a licensed valet company for valet service on a daily or regular basis.
Special Event Location - any location which contracts with a licensed valet company for valet service not defined as a fixed location.