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Welcome and thank you for considering Pendleton County as a possible site for your prospective business.  We have a wonderful community and the perfect logistics for commerce, as we are directly located between Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky.

Small businesses are vital to Kentucky's economy and a variety of services and programs exist to assist small business.  The Pendleton County Judges Office can provide additional sources of information and contact information to make this endeavor easier. Certain types of businesses may be required to have a special license or permit to legally operate.  In some cases, more than one license may be required.  Kentucky does not have a "one size fits all" business license that applies to all businesses.  Most types of businesses must register with the office of the Secretary of State.  To determine if your type of business needs a special license or permit from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, go to Kentucky's One Stop Business Portal.

From a county perspective, let's get started with local guidelines...

Planning and Zoning:  Permits & Regulations

Pendleton County is a zoning community and uses a Zoning Ordinance.  The Zoning Ordinance is the local law that spells out the immediate, allowable uses for each piece of property within the county.  Therefore, before any business is opened, a Zoning Permit is required from the Zoning Administrator that documents that the business being conducted at the desired location is permitted within Zoning Regulations of Pendleton County.  Please refer to the following list to verify which permits are needed for your business operation.

1.  Choosing a Location: Before purchase or lease please contact Planning and Zoning at 859-654-1108 to verify if the location and business use complies with zoning ordinances.  Different uses may require a conditional use permit (public hearing), additional parking or it may not be allowed for the zoning of the selected site.  Additionally, if your business is a different use than the previous tenant, a building permit is required even if you don’t plan to build anything within the tenant space.  This is required to ensure the building meets State Building and Electrical codes for the specific use. 

2.  Historic Downtown Location:  Downtown locations have unique requirements on maintenance unlike other areas in the county.  Check with Planning and Zoning for these requirements.

3.  Remodeling/Improvements:  Any change in use or remodeling of a commercial building and any building with occupancy more than 100 will need a zoning permit, building inspection and utility inspections prior to moving in.  Most building additions require a development plan which includes a contract with an engineer, submit plans and provide any easements. Also, American Disability Act (ADA) restrooms are required for any business that provides public restrooms.  Please contact Planning and Zoning or refer to inspector contacts for additional information. 

4.  Signage:  Signs for your business are very important.  Signs require a separate permit prior to them being installed, and electrical permits are often needed also.  Temporary signs in the right-of-way are not allowed.   

5.  Home Based Business:  Please contact Planning and Zoning to discuss.  There are several home businesses that can be approved.  Some will require a conditional use permit (public hearing) and some are specifically not allowed.  See the Home Occupation Permit Application.

6.  Food Sales:  Any business that provides food or drink services, even if it is prepared off site, will need to obtain a permit from Don Jacobs, Pendleton County Health Inspector at 859-654-6985.  Also, check with the County Clerk’s Office at 859-654-3380 to see their guidelines with food and beverages. 

7.  Alcohol Sales:  Please contact Falmouth City Hall for sale in the City of Falmouth at 859-472.5015. Please contact the Pendleton County Judges office for alcohol sales in the unincorporated county and in the City of Butler at 859-654-4321.

Business Licenses & Registration

County - Every person or business who renders services in Pendleton County must register with the Pendleton County Tax Administrator by completing a Questionnaire for Business or a Questionnaire for Individuals for a Pendleton County Occupational Tax Account. The form must be received within ten (10) business days of the start of business or the beginning of a project.  Please contact Kami Wood at 859-654-1808 or email.
In 2006, an Occupational License Tax was established in Pendleton County and is now 1.0% of Gross Wages.  The Occupational Tax is a payroll tax accessed on those employees receiving a W-2, which is withheld from employees’ gross wages through the employer and remitted on a Quarterly basis.  (For Annual filing, an Administrative burden must be proven and the status then approved by the Tax Administrator.)  An Account Number and tax returns will be provided by the Tax Administrator.
City of Falmouth - City Business Licenses are issued by the City of Falmouth if the company resides within the city limits.  License rates and permit requirements may vary.  Licenses are issued for a 1 year term (May 1 - April 30) with the fee based on occupation for most businesses.   Please contact Falmouth City Hall at 859-654-6937 for more information.
City of Butler - City Business Licenses are issued by the City of Butler if the company resides within the city limits.  License rates and permit requirements may vary.  Licenses are issued for a 1 year term (July 1 - June 30) with the fee based on occupation for most businesses.  Please contact Butler City Hall at 859-472-5015 for more information.
State:  Kentucky does not have a statewide business license that applies to all businesses, but certain types of businesses are required to have a special license or permit to legally operate their business.  In some cases, more than one license or permit may be required.  To determine what is required from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, go to
Federal:  A Federal Tax Identification Number (Employer Identification Number or EIN) is a number assigned solely to your business by the IRS.  Your tax ID number is used to identify your business to several federal agencies responsible for the regulation of business.  Any business offering products (goods) or services (employees) that are taxed in any way must get a Federal Tax ID number.  All the government forms you will be required to file for your business will require either a Social Security Number or a Tax Identification Number.  Go to for all information and proper forms.


Employment  affects your business at every level.  As a business owner, when another person performs work for you, you must first correctly classify that person as either an independent contractor or employee.  If the person is an independent contractor you must have the contractor file Form W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification).  If you pay someone $600 or more during the year, you must provide them with a 1099 by January 31 of the following year.
If the person is classified as an employee, your tax responsibilities include withholding, depositing, reporting and paying employment taxes at all Federal, State and Local levels.  You must provide Workers Compensation and Unemployment Insurance coverage, as well as following ACA coverage guidelines.  You must also give certain forms to your employees; they must give certain forms to you.  You must also send certain forms to the IRS and Social Security Administration.
Research and understand your Employer tax obligations with the Internal Revenue Service and the Kentucky Department of Revenue.

Business Plan & Development Assistance

If additional assistance is needed in developing a Business Plan, Pendleton County Judges Office, may be your next contact.  The Judge's Office can offer help and guidance through this sometimes confusing process of starting a business and may have knowledge of potential funding opportunities and entrepreneur programs offered in Northern Kentucky.