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Choosing Upper Darby

This section of the site provides an overview of things to consider when Starting a Small Business in Upper Darby. Included are the Procedures, Regulations, Zoning, Licenses and Permits that affect most small business, as well as additional resources that may be of use.

The Guide on Starting a Small Business is also Available in the Following Languages:

This project was financed by a grant for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development obtained through the Foundation of the Delaware County Chamber.


As of the 2000 census, there were 85,038 people, 32,551 households, and 20,474 families residing in the township. The population density was 14,658.7 people per square mile. There were 34,322 housing units at an average density of 4,361.6/sq mi (1,683.8/km˛). The racial makeup of Upper Darby was 59.1% White, 20.5% African American, 15.3% Asian, 0.12% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races and 2.3% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 2.4% of the population.

There were 32,551 households out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.0% were married couples living together, 13.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.1% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 3.23.

In the township the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 8.4% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64 and 13.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.2 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $41,489, and median income for a family was $52,500. Males had a median income of $38,090 versus $30,416 for females. The per capita income for the township was $20,770. About 7.3% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 11.1% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Starting a Business

Before You Begin

Think about basic business operations:

  • Identify your potential location(s), but do not invest money until you understand the zoning requirements. If your business is not correctly zoned, you will need to spend additional time and money seeking a zoning variance.
  • Know the law. Federal, state, and local laws regulate business operations, including taxes, employees, and sale of controlled substances, such as alcohol or firearms.
  • Estimate your weekly revenue and expenses. Get a general sense of how much you will be earning and spending during the first year of operation.
  • Consider creating a business plan. With a business plan, you may be eligible for loans, grants, and other financing options. See page 12 for a list of organizations that can help you.
  • Find equipment sources and develop relationships with wholesalers.
  • Look into business insurance options to protect against damages, crime, or loss of income.

As You Plan

Meet with Upper Darby Township staff before you invest money in your business or finalize your plans. L&I staff will help you understand the zoning regulations and identify the certificates, permits, and licenses you will need to open your business. If your business will sell or handle food, Public Health Department staff will help you understand food establishment regulations and what you will need to do to obtain your license.

Registering Your Business – For All Businesses

To conduct business in Upper Darby, you must register your new business with the Upper Darby Finance Department and get a Business Privilege License. This license must be renewed each year. Contact the Finance Department by calling 610-734-7618 for an application, or visited the Licenses & Taxes page under the Finance Department section of this site.

The Finance Department also can help you understand the local taxes you will need to pay for your business. The Finance Department is located at 100 Garrett Road, Room 212, Upper Darby, PA 19082.

You must also register your new business entity and business name with the State of Pennsylvania and get a sales tax license. To get the forms you will need, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue by calling 610-619-8018 or 717-787-1064 or go to the Pennsylvania Open for Business website: www.paopen4business.state.pa.us

If you plan to hire employees, you will need to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN ) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS ). For an application, call the IRS at 800-829-4933 or apply online at www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=102767,00.html.

As an employer you will also have tax obligations such as tax withholding and unemployment compensation. To learn more and get the forms you need, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue by calling 610-619-8018 or 717-787-1064 or go to: www.paopen4business.state.pa.us

For all business

Zoning regulations specify what types of businesses can operate in a particular location, and set rules about signs and parking.

Building code regulations require that both the structure and the space within a business property are safe and accessible for customers and employees. Building codes specify how electrical, plumbing, heating and fire safety systems must be installed and maintained.

For businesses that sell, serve, and/or prepare food (such as groceries, coffee shops, delis, restaurants, caterers)

Food establishments are highly regulated in the United States to prevent sickness. Food establishment regulations specify how food storage, preparation areas, and equipment should be set up, and how systems like water supply and sanitation should be installed and maintained.

Important Resources

Licenses and Inspection
100 Garrett Road, Room 109
Phone: 610-734-7613

Public Health
100 Garrett Road, Room 306

100 Garrett Road, Room 212

Zoning Approval

Getting Started

To operate a business in Upper Darby, you need to get Use and Occupancy certifications showing that you have recieved zoning approval (Use) and that your business meets building code regulations (Occupancy).

To obtain applications forms for Use and Occupancy certificatiosn from the Upper Darby L&I Department, call 610-734-7613. They will give you a New Business & Takeover applications packet that contains Use and Occupancy appplications and includes:

  • General informations about licenses, permits, and certificates need to get Use and Occupancy approval.
  • General tips about what the building code requires for your business property and what will be inspected (such as exits, maintenance, fire protection, plumbing, and electrical, heating, or air conditioning systems).

You can also get the New Business packet online on the Business Permits page under the Licenses and Inspections section of this site.

Obtaining Zoning Approval

When you apply for Use certification for your business, you identify where your buisness will be located and what goods or services you will be selling. You also describe physcial changes you are planning to make to the property and any signs you plan to add or change. This information is used for the zoning compliance review.

Other Appprovals and Regulations

Obtaining Building Code Approval - For All Business

When you apply for Occupancy certification, you provide a floor plan of your business as well as details about the interior layout, physical systems, fire protection systems, and signs. The L&I Department staff use this information to identify what building permits you will need to get and what inspections L&I staff will make.

Building Permits and Inspections

If you are making physical changes to the business property or chanign the way the building will be used, you will need to apply for building permits before you being work. Seperate permits are required for work on plumbing, construction of walls or additions, and electrical, heating, or air conditioning systems. You may need to have plans and drawings prepared by an architect or engineer. L&I staff will do inspections as work proceeds. For permit applications or questions, contact the L&I Department by calling 610-374-7613.

Final Approval

Before you open, L&I staff will inspect your new business to make sure that it is compliant with building codes. Your fire protection systems will also need to be certified. Even if you have not made any physical change, your new business will need to be inspected before you open.

Health Code Approval

Obtaining Health Code Approval – Only for Businesses Selling or Handling Food

Businesses that sell, serve, and/or prepare food items are classified as “food establishments” and must be licensed and approved by the Upper Darby Public Health Department. The Health Department regulates food handling processes and construction or alteration of food establishments to ensure compliance with the township health code. Contact the Health Department by calling 610-734-7640 to identify what you will need to do before opening for business.

The Health Department works closely with the Upper Darby L&I Department (responsible for building code compliance) during the inspection and approval process.

Be aware that, to ensure food safety, the Health Department regulates many aspects of food establishment activity, such as:

  • Equipment design and installation
  • Ventilation
  • Flooring
  • Utility lines
  • Ceiling construction
  • Beverage systems
  • Vermin control
  • Lighting
  • Water and waste drainage
  • Restroom and locker facilities
  • Reuse and recyclables

Final Approval

Before you can open, the Health Department must do final inspections and approve your license to operate a food service establishment. Even if you have not made any physical changes, your new business will need to be inspected prior to opening. After you open, the Health Department will continue to do random inspections to ensure compliance with the health code.

Food Sanitation Manager Certification

Most food establishments are required to have a full-time employee certified as a Certified Food Sanitation Manager (CFSM ). The employee must complete an approved food safety and certification course (typically 16 hours long). The certified employee does not need to be present at your business during all operating hours. Contact the Upper Darby Public Health Department at 610-734-7640 for more information on the CFSM requirements for your business. They can give you information about approved certification courses offered in English and other languages.

Additional Resources

  • Organization
  • Delaware County Chamber of Commerce
  • Delaware County Commerce Center
  • Small Business Administration