Home Business/Home Occupation Permits

A home daycare

The Denver Zoning Code defines a broad range of home occupations and categories. Home occupations are intended to be secondary to the home’s primary use as a dwelling, and therefore may be limited in size, employees, signage, and hours of operation.

Whether you are running a child daycare from your home or using a home office for freelance work, if you intend on doing business from your home and using your home address as a business address, you must obtain a zoning permit for a home occupation.

Before you apply

1. Know your zone district

Most home occupations are allowed in all zone districts, except S-SU-Fx and S-SU-Lx, which are zone districts that prohibit certain types of home occupations. Specific limitations and regulations vary by zone district, so it is important to check your zone district first to determine if your desired home occupation is allowed.

  • Find your zone district by entering your address on the zoning map.
    • The results will tell you what your zone district is and whether it is in the 2010 Denver Zoning Code or the 1956 Former Chapter 59 zoning code. 

2. Know your zoning regulations

Denver Zoning Code

After using the zoning map to identify your home's zone district, make note of the first letter of the zone district. This indicates your neighborhood context. Then, look up the appropriate zoning code chapter based on your neighborhood context in the Denver Zoning Code (it will be one of Articles 3-9). 

To confirm whether your home business is allowed, check the article’s "District Specific Standards" located at the end of the article and look for the table entry “Accessory to Primary Residential Uses Use Classification.” Note whether any use limitations are listed in the last column of the table.

For a final check, go to Article 11, Division 11.9 for use limitations associated with all home occupations. 

Learn how to use the Denver Zoning Code: Watch a short video (~2 minutes; opens in YouTube)

Former Chapter 59 zoning code

After using the zoning map to identify your home's zone district, see Section 59-89, Home occupations allowed of the Former Chapter 59 code. Pages 129-130 list the limitations for home occupations, and page 131 lists home occupations allowed by zone district.

“Food preparation” is not allowed as a home occupation in Former Chapter 59 zone districts. 

"Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales" may be allowed as an unlisted home occupation and requires a special zoning review process. See Section 59-89 (1) m. for additional information. 

NOTE: If your property's zone district has attached waivers or conditions (e.g., R-MU-30 with waivers), contact the Zoning Team for more guidance on what is allowed in your district and the process for applying for appropriate permits.

3. Review home occupation types and descriptions

To help you complete your zoning permit application, review the following home occupation definitions and descriptions to determine which is most appropriate for your proposal.

Note: Some businesses will also require a business license. To see if your business requires a license, check the Denver Business Licensing Center's business index.

Adult Care Home
Provides less than 24-hour care of four or fewer clients who are over 16 years of age.

Animal Care Services
Daycare or boarding for household animals. Retail sales of animals are prohibited, but cleaning and grooming services are permitted. Note: A permit is not necessary for keeping household pets as long as you do not exceed 2 rabbits, 25 pigeons, 2 domestic honey bee hives, or 5 dogs and cats combined with no more than 3 dogs as part of the combined total.

Artist Studio/Fine Arts Studio
Creation of individual works of art, music or photography. Mass production or retail sales from the home are prohibited.

Child Care Home, Small
Licensed facility providing less than 24-hour care and education to no more than six children, plus two additional children who attend either before- or after-school hours. City and state licensing requirements will also apply.

Child Care Home, Large (Requires public notice by ZPIN)
Licensed facility providing less than 24-hour care and education to 7-12 children. Review the licensing requirements of the city and state. This use is subject to the Zoning Permit with Informational Notice (ZPIN) review.

Craft Work
Crafting of individual pieces that consist of one or more of the following: ceramics, inlays, needlework, knitting, weaving, leather work, woodwork, metal work or glass work. Mass production or retail sales from the home are prohibited.

Food Preparation
Preparation and assembly of food items that do not fit into the Fresh Produce and Cottage Food Sales category. Direct sales and consumption must occur off-premises. This type of home business will also require a business license and may require building, fire, or health reviews if there is a commercial-grade kitchen or you are installing a second kitchen.

Fresh Produce and Cottage Foods Sales
Home-based sales or preparation of Cottage Foods or raw foods grown in a home garden or primary urban garden (marijuana is excluded). This home occupation allows Denver residents to sell raw, uncut produce and homemade cottage foods from their home. Cottage foods are defined by the State of Colorado Cottage Food Act and include foods such as tea, honey, jams, jellies, and dried produce. Sellers must have grown the produce in their home gardens or an off-site community garden, urban farm, or another person’s property, and must have prepared the cottage foods in their homes. For more information, download the Fresh Produce and Cottage Foods Home Occupation Guide(PDF, 276KB). (En Español(PDF, 266KB))

Office, Non-Medical, Non-Dental
A place of business providing services that are not medical or dental offices or clinics. Allowed offices could include offices for architects, designers, accountants, lawyers and similar where chattels, goods, wares or merchandise are not commercially created, displayed, exchanged, stored or sold.

Online Retail Sales
Retail or wholesale sales where the transaction originates on and is completed via an individual website or third-party online marketplace. Online Retail Sales may include the sale of handmade or craft goods created, fabricated, or assembled on the residential premises. Online Retail Sales cannot include transferring goods directly to a buyer at the residential premises. Online Retail Sales is not allowed in areas governed by the Former Chapter 59 zoning code.  

Professional Studio
A place where individual works of art are created or where arts or music instruction to students occurs. 

Service and Repair Businesses, Small
The following are permitted as home occupations, provided there are no retail sales of goods (e.g., a home salon cutting hair for a fee is allowed but hair products and accessories cannot be sold there):

  1. Beauty Shop or Salon
  2. Clock and Watch Repair
  3. Custom Dressmaking, Millinery, Tailoring, Sewing
  4. Laundering and Pressing
  5. Tutoring

Unlisted Home Occupations
Other home occupations that are not specifically listed in the code may be permitted at the city’s discretion. These uses are subject to a ZPIN review and cannot include the following: adult businesses; animal sales; commercial parking, warehousing or storage; industrial manufacturing; retail or wholesale sales; or vehicle or equipment sales, rentals, and services.  

Ready to apply?

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Note: The permit for an approved home occupation expires when the resident operator who is specified on the permit no longer operates the home occupation at that property.