Guide to Doing Business in West Chester, PA
West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a premier location to live and do business. As the seat of Chester County, it is regarded as the market center for the area. Your Guide to Doing Business in West Chester is part of the Borough-wide effort to provide quality customer service and make it easier to expand or start a business.
As a general reference, you will find this guide useful in contacting the appropriate departments for your needs. It is meant to be a resource for obtaining contact information for permits, licenses, and other information necessary for conducting business.
This guide is the product of an effort by the Borough of West Chester, in collaboration with the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) to consolidate information pertaining to business into one source. Both the Borough and BID will make every effort to ensure that you receive useful information and service.
NOTE: The items in this article are intended as a guide only and have been carefully researched and deemed correct. However, the Borough of West Chester and the West Chester Business Improvement District cannot be held responsible for errors or omissions. Please contact the West Chester BID with any suggestions or corrections.
About West Chester Municipal Government
The Borough of West Chester is a Home Rule Municipality, which is a municipal corporation with a Council/Manager/Mayor form of government. The seven-member council is elected by wards and is the legislative body in charge of the borough’s government. The Mayor is elected at large and directs the operation of the Police Department. The Borough Council appoints the Borough Manager as a chief administrative officer.
The regular meetings of the Borough Council are generally held on the third Wednesday of each month, beginning at 7:00 pm, and they are preceded the night before (at 7:00 pm) with Council Work Session. All meetings are held at the West Chester Municipal Building at 401 East Gay Street, West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) is a municipal authority established in 2000 to provide economic development services to the downtown business community of the Borough. Its three general goals are to increase customer traffic; retain, expand and recruit viable businesses; and advocate the interests of downtown to government agencies. Funding for the BID is generated by an annual assessment equitably shared by all commercial properties in the district and substantial financial support from the West Chester Borough. The BID is governed by a 15 member Board of Directors made up of downtown business and property owners. The Board meets the second Tuesday of each month, at 8:00 am, at the BID office, 119 North High St.
West Chester residents and businesses are invited to attend and address the Council or the BID on matters of concern, in accordance with Council and municipal rules.
West Chester Borough Staff
Borough Manager, 610-692-7574
West Chester BID Staff
BID Executive Director, 610-738-3350
Business Start-Up Checklist
1) For demographic information, space availability and business information assistance, contact:
Malcolm Johnstone, Executive Director
West Chester Business Improvement District (BID)
2) Regarding zoning regulations, change of use, accessibility requirements and building and sign permits, contact:
Office of Building, Housing and Code Enforcement in the Borough of West Chester Municipal Building.
If appropriate to your business, the Health Department contact for Chester County is:
3) To prepare a written business plan, complete with pro-forma statements that will serve as an operating guide, as well as a financial prospectus, you may receive free and confidential advice through the following agencies:
- Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Kutztown University : 610-458-5700
- Service Core of Retired Executives (SCORE) : 610-344-6910
- Chester County Economic Development Council : 610-458-5700
- Chamber of Commerce of Greater West Chester : 610-696-4046
- West Chester Business Improvement District : 610-738-3350
4) All businesses must file for a Business Privilege Tax License with the Borough of West Chester. The tax license fee is $10.00. Information and forms can be obtained by calling Berkheimer Associates. For other tax purposes, contact Keystone Collections Group.
5) Decide upon your business structure – sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or subchapter “s” corporation, limited liability partnership, etc. To form a corporation in the state of Pennsylvania, you must file Articles of Incorporation with the Department of State (form DSCB:1306). Phone: 717-787-1057
6) Register your fictitious name with the Department of State. A fictitious name is any assumed or fictitious name, style or designation other than the proper name of the entity using such a name. The term includes the name of any association, general partnership, business trust, syndicate, joint venture or similar combination of groups or persons. To register, you must file form DSCB: 54-311 (it can be downloaded from (www.dos.state.pa.us) with the Corporation Bureau of the Department of State. Before or after registering a fictitious name, you will be required to place an advertisement in newspapers of general circulation in Chester County (such as the Daily Local News, 610-696-1775), as well as a legal paper in Chester County (such as the Law Reporter at 610-692-1889). Fee is: $74; phone: 717-787-1057
7) Every employer subject to employment taxes is required to obtain a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. Contact the IRS for form SS-4. Some businesses are required to have an identification number for use on returns, statements and other documents even though they do not have any employees. Filing this form will result in you receiving all other federal tax forms and instructions required of a new business. Your EIN will also be used as your Pennsylvania employer identification number. Internal Revenue Service, Philadelphia, PA 19255 – phone: 1-800-829-1040.
8) If you employ one or more persons, you may be liable for the state unemployment compensation tax and must register with the bureau of employer tax operations. Contact your Field Account Service for Chester County – phone: 610-647-3799.
9) The Borough of West Chester has chosen Keystone Collections as their Tax Administrator for Earned Income Tax levied by the Borough.
Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration
10) The Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration Form (PA-100) must be completed by enterprises to register for certain taxes and services (such as Worker's Compensation) administered by the PA Department of Revenue and the Department of Labor & Industry. The form is also designed to be used by previously registered enterprises to register for additional taxes and services, reactivate a tax or service, or notify both Departments that additional establishment locations have been added. The form is also used to request the Unemployment Compensation Experience record and Reserve Account Balance of a Predecessor.
For registration assistance, contact: (717) 787-1064, 1-800-447-3020 (Services for taxpayers with special hearing and speaking needs) Monday through Friday 8:00AM to 4:30PM (EST).
The Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration Online PA-100 will assist you in completing all applicable sections that pertain to your Enterprise's individual registration needs at www.pa100.state.pa.us
Registrations for the following taxes and services will be processed electronically:
- Employer Withholding Tax
- Promoter License
- Sales Use, Hotel Occupancy Tax License
- Transient Vendor Certificate
- Unemployment Compensation
- Use Tax
- Wholesaler Certificate
- Workers' Compensation Coverage
12) For information on parking regulations, as well as assistance with your parking needs, contact the Parking Division in the West Chester Municipal Building, 610-696-4521. Or call West Chester BID at 610-738-3350.
Updated October 2, 2018