Top Business FAQs

How should I dispose of hazardous waste like paint, paint cans, oil, tires, chemicals, etc.?

Are there any restrictions on where I do business?

  • Every business must meet zoning requirements to ensure that the business activity and site are compatible.  It is strongly urged that before signing any lease or rental agreement, that you check with the City’s Building Department at 574-235-9554 to make sure your business activity is appropriate for the zoning, if it requires special parking considerations, requires a special exception use, or requires permits for changes to the building.

Why do I have to be home when I turn my water service back on after a non payment?

  • The reason you have to be home, pressure may build up in the water lines in turn, causing a leak or break.  Another factor, a faucet may be left on or a toilet left running which would cause a flood in the home.

Why does heat have to be turned on in my home or business before my water service can be started?

  • Water Works does this to ensure the pipes in the home do not freeze and burst. 

Where do I go for a sewer or water tap?

  • The Division of Engineering processes sewer taps and water permits.  Please call 574.235.9254 for more information. 

    Water Works Engineering processes water tap permits.  Please call 574.235.9279 for more information.

  • The Division of Engineering processes sewer taps and water permits.  Please call 574.235.9254 for more information. 

    Water Works Engineering processes water tap permits.  Please call 574.235.9279 for more information.

How do I file for a D.B.A. (Doing Business As)?

  • The following formal business entities require the filing of organizational documents with the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State: Corporation, S-Corporation, Limited Liability Company, Nonprofit Corporation, Limited Partnership, and Limited Liability Partnership.

    All filing and reports for formal business entities should be sent to:

    Indiana Secretary of State
    Business Service Division
    302 W. Washington St., RM E018
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

    Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships DO NOT require filing with the Indiana Secretary of State to come into existence.  If the business name does not contain the owner’s name(s), file a Doing Business As, also known as an Assumed Business Name, form with the St. Joseph County Recorder’s office to secure your business name on a county level.  Example: John Doe operates a business as a Sole Proprietor; d.b.a. John’s Plumbing Service.  Registration of a business does not protect the name from being used by another business.

    Less formal entities file with:

    St. Joseph County Recorder
    227 W. Jefferson Blvd., RM 321
    South Bend, IN 46601

My utility bill is incorrect, who do I call?

  • Please call the Division of Water Works at 574.235.9236 for information regarding your utilities bill.

Who do I contact for permission to place a sign, canopy or awning on my building?

Under what circumstances is a business license denied?

  • A business license may be denied because of zoning, code violations, or failure to provide all required documentation.

What should I do if I close or sell my business?

  • If you choose to close or sell your business, please notify the Business Licensing Department in writing so that they may cancel your license.  Be sure to include the business name, address, owner name and signature of owner.


Who can help me with the information regarding sanitary and storm sewers or drainage problems?

  • If you have water in your basement or standing in your street, please call the Bureau of Sewers at 574.235.9444 for more information. 

    For systematic problems, please call the Division of Engineering at 574.235.9251.

Do I need a new business license if I change my business name or legal entity?

  • Yes, any change of name or legal entity requires a new business license.  It is the responsibility of the business owner to advise the Business License Department at 574-235-5912 of any changes.

How do I schedule an inspection of my home or business for fire safety?

  • The Fire Department does not inspect residential properties.  They do however, schedule inspections for commercial properties or places of business.  Please contact the Fire Department, Inspection Division at 574-235-9487.

How long does it take to receive a business license?

  • The time to receive a license depends upon the type of business license required.  Some are granted within a week, while others may require the approval of various City departments such as: Fire Department, County Health Department, Building Department, Code Enforcement, Board of Public Works and the Police Department.

What if I misplace my business license?

  • You can request a copy of a misplaced, lost, or stolen business license from the Business License Administrator at 574-235-5912 for a $5.00 processing fee.

Can I assume or transfer a former owner’s business license?

  • No, business licenses are non-transferable.  A new owner must apply and pay for a new business license.

Is getting a South Bend business License the only requirement for those conducting business in the City?

  • No.  Depending on your business, you may be required to register with other local, state, & federal entities (i.e., Indiana Secretary of State, County Recorder, Internal Revenue Service, Indiana Department of Revenue, Department of Local Government Finance,  Department of Workforce Development, Worker’s Compensation Board, Indiana Department of Labor).