By: Jaymarie Correa, Director of Permisos SOS
The issue of permits is of great importance for all types of businesses in Puerto Rico, including e-commerce or online commerce. If you want to establish an e-commerce, either as a way to diversify your current business or start a new one, remember to consider the permitting process from the very start, at the planning phase, so you can allocate the necessary budget and prepare well in advance.
Before filling out any paperwork to apply for permits, you must first define your business’ legal structure. If you start the permitting process under one legal structure and then change it, you will not be able to use the permits you already obtained.
Here is some information about the permits required to develop your online business. These permits apply whether you conduct administrative operations from your home or from a coworking space:
- Merchant Registration (Registro de Comerciante): Every person or corporation doing business in Puerto Rico must have a Merchant Registration issued by the Department of the Treasury. To apply, go to suri.pr.gov, create an account, and fill out the application.
After completing these steps, the system will provide you with the registration number on the same day. Please keep in mind that this registration has an expiration date. Add the date to your calendar so you won’t forget to renew it.
- Unique Residential Permit (Permiso Único Domiciliario): You must request it if you will conduct your e-commerce administrative operations from home.
Keep in mind that you cannot have customers or prospects visiting your house, the work performed must be of an administrative nature, and no more than 25% of your house’s square footage may be used for commercial purposes.
To apply for the Unique Residential Permit, you must create an account on the Permit Management Office (OGPe, by its Spanish acronym) website at www.ogpe.pr.gov.
Upon obtaining the permit, you will also get the following certifications:
- Fire Prevention Licence
- Sanitary License
- Use Permit
The Unique Residential Permit does not have an expiration date. If you change your place of residence or move your operations to a commercial location, you must go through a new permitting process, as this permit is not transferable.
- Pre-consultation of Use (Preconsulta de Uso): If you will be conducting your e-commerce’s administrative operations from a coworking space, you must apply for a Pre-consultation of Use on the OGPe’s website: ogpe.pr.gov.
- Municipal Business License (Patente Municipal): Once you have your Unique Residential Permit or Pre-consultation of Use ready, according to your administrative operations center, you must apply for a Municipal Business License at the Administrative Office of the municipality where your home or coworking space is located. Municipal business licenses require payment and must be renewed annually or semi-annually.
Important: If you move your operations to a commercial location, you must initiate the appropriate permitting process again. On the other hand, if you move the operation from a coworking space to your home or vice versa, you must undergo the permitting process that applies to your administrative operations center.
Note: Other permits may be required depending on your business’ structure and operations. Getting a permit evaluation before launching your e-commerce business will provide you with direction and will help you complete the process of obtaining all the permits you need. The content of this article may vary, depending on changes in the current permit regulations.
Permisos SOS is a Puerto Rican company dedicated to the processing of permits for new and existing businesses in Puerto Rico. It specializes in designing an application strategy for each client. During the past five years they have processed permits for more than 500 Puerto Rican companies.
Banco Popular of Puerto Rico (“Popular”) is not affiliated nor related to the individuals or entities mentioned in this article. This article is for informative purposes only, and does not constitute an endorsement or guarantee of its accuracy. Neither Popular nor any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or related entities are, nor might be held liable for any special, direct, or indirect, damages, resulting from reliance on the information contained in this article, which Popular did not prepare. Popular provides financial services) and does not provide the type of service referenced in this article. If you need any related service, you should request the advice of the competent professional of your preference.