We have a dedicated business team to offer wider support to help get your business started, grow and develop. This includes information about

  • Business intelligence and news
  • Intellectual property
  • Patents, trademarks and copyrights
  • Starting up and expansion
  • Funding
  • Relocation
  • Events and discussion groups
  • Additional training needs and apprenticeships

You can learn more by:

Business support and funding

Useful information can be found on our Starting a business page about the legal, financial and business planning aspects of setting up a new business.

For specific enquiries, you can also call the helpline on 023 9284 1074.

You can also register to receive an emailed business bulletin at business@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or follow @PortsmouthBiz on X for up-to-date information on funding schemes etc.

With a Portsmouth library card you can access COBRA (Complete Business Reference Adviser) sector guides, detailing what you need to consider when opening a certain type of business.

Apply for a library card on the Portsmouth Libraries website. You do not need to be a Portsmouth resident.

Choosing a business name

The name you choose for your business is very important. If you trade under a name other than your own name you must not use a name that could mislead the public; certain words are prohibited or require approval – for example, ‘royal’, ‘English’, and ‘association’.

Your customers and suppliers are entitled to know who they are doing business with.

The Companies Act 2006 requires that you display your business address on your premises and on your business stationery.

If you wish to trade as a limited company you will need to register with Companies House.

Planning permission

You will need to check if the premises you are planning to use for your business have the correct planning permission. There may also be planning conditions on the premises, which for example could restrict opening hours. Please search Public Access to find the property’s existing planning permission.

Some properties can change to certain uses (such as a shop) without needing planning permission. In specific cases there may also be a two-year ‘temporary use’ which does not require planning permission. Please visit the Planning Portal (change of use) for more information.

Depending on what you want to do, you may also need to apply for planning permission or Building Control approval to install a new shopfront, install a new ventilation or extraction system, or display new advertisements.

If you need further advice, you can submit a ‘pre-application’ enquiry to the city council.

For general advice on planning and Building Control, please see the Planning Portal.

Amenities on the Highways

If you want to place ‘amenities’ such as a table and chairs, or a display stand outside your premises on the public highway, you must first obtain a permit from the council.

Please view our page about amenities on the highway for more information.

Food Hygiene

If you’re proposing to open any type of ‘food business’ such as a grocery’s or sandwich shop, you will need to ensure your premises and food production and labelling systems are up to standard and register your business prior to opening.

Please see our food safety page for more information.

Health and Safety

Our environmental health team investigate accidents and complaints, and also promote health and safety in the workplace.

For advice on compliance with health and safety, view our health and safety page.


If you want to sell alcohol, host events or stage live music, you may need to apply for a license. Please see our licensing page for more information.

Trading Standards

For advice on product safety requirements please contact trading.standards@portsmouthcc.gov.uk or read this product safety guide.

For more information on specific goods please see:

Trading from home, at the door or from a distance (online, telephone, mail order etc)

You can find a checklist and a guidance to help you start a business form home.

If you are carrying out cold calling activities or trading via a distance such as online or over the phone you are required by law to provide a consumer with a written notice of their right to cancel the contract within 14 days; this is known as a ‘cooling-off period’.

The consumer can change their mind at any time during this period and cancel their contract with you. For more information please visit: www.businesscompanion.info

If you are operating a website you must by law display certain information on your webpage including:

  • your business/company name
  • your geographical address
  • your VAT number

More information can be found online by visiting:

Age restricted sales

There are laws that restrict the sale of certain products – such as alcohol, solvents, fireworks and blades – to underage people. More information can be found online on the Business Companion website.

Business Rates

Commercial businesses pay business rates, however some small businesses with rateable values below £18,000 may qualify for rate relief or discount.

To understand what the business rates you would need to pay, please contact the Business Rates team on 023 9268 8588 or localtaxation@portsmouthcc.gov.uk

For more information you can visit our business rates web pages.

Tax, National Insurance, business records and expenses

You can find advice about complying with government rules on tax, NI etc. on the HMRC website.