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All businesses operating within the city of Columbus, Georgia, or Muscogee County, are required to obtain a basic business license. This license must be secured before a business can legally operate. In some instances, additional licenses are required for business operation. Failure to obtain all required licensing prior to operating a business in Muscogee County can result in stiff fines and penalties.
Certificate of Occupancy
A certificate of occupancy is required for all brick-and-mortar businesses. A brick-and-mortar business is any business that operates from a physical building. The certificate of occupancy is granted only after the business building passes inspection by Columbus' Department of Inspections and Code Enforcement.
Getting a License
All business licenses must be requested through the city's Occupation Tax section of the city's Finance Department. A certificate of occupancy must be obtained before a business license will be granted. To obtain a license, the business owner must complete a “Request/Renewal Form for Business Licenses” (see link in Resources). Information that is required on the form includes the business name, business address, tax ID numbers, business structure, business nature, owner's name and owner's contact information. As of March 2011, a $50 processing fee must be submitted with the license request form. Depending upon the business type, a business owner may also have to provide additional credentials in order to receive a business license.
Alcoholic Beverage License
If the business owner intends to sell alcohol, he needs an alcoholic beverage license in addition to his regular business license. The application for an alcoholic beverage license can also be obtained through the Occupation Tax section of the Finance Department (see link in Resources). As part of the application process, the business owner must also complete a “Waiver for Police Records Check.” This waiver gives the Finance Department permission to perform a local and statewide criminal background check on the business owner. As of March 2011, a $50 processing fee must be submitted with the alcoholic beverage license. An additional fee of $20 is required for each Waiver for Police Records Check.
All business owner's requesting a business license, certificate of occupancy or alcoholic beverage license must also submit a notarized SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) affidavit (see link in Resources). The purpose of the SAVE affidavit is to verify the business owner is a legal U.S. citizen.