Home Occupations


The term “home occupation” refers to a situation where someone works out of their own home. Home occupations are the only type of businesses that are allowed to operate in most residentially zoned areas. Because these are residential areas, commercial activity is strictly regulated and a home occupation is only allowed if it meets certain guidelines which ensure that it will not create a nuisance for neighboring properties.


The City recently adopted a new ordinance to update and streamline the process for determining whether a proposed home occupation is allowed or not. To summarize:


  1. All permitted home occupations must follow a set of 15 rules. These rules are listed below.


  1. There are 14 types of uses that are listed as prohibited. These uses are NEVER allowed to be home occupations with no exceptions.


  1. All residents are permitted to have a “home office” within their dwelling unit. As long as no products are being sold on-site and no customers or clients ever visit the home office, the home office does not need to be registered with the City. Even though it is not registered, it still must follow the 15 rules. 


  1. All home occupations besides home offices must register with the City. You must download an affidavit form using this link. The form must be filled out, signed, and returned to the Zoning Administrator. There is no cost to register your home occupation. Failure to register a home occupation could lead to code enforcement action including administrative citations.


NOTE: If you cannot comply with the fifteen (15) general provisions but your proposed home occupation is not on the “prohibited” list, you may be eligible to apply for an Interim Use Permit to operate your business. These permit requests are reviewed directly by the Planning Commission and the City Council and take 45-60 days to process. A processing fee is collected as part of any Interim use Permit application. Please contact the Zoning Administrator at 651-554- 3217 if you are interested in exploring this option further.


General Rules for Home Occupations

All home occupations shall comply with these fifteen (15) general rules:

  1. The home occupation shall be incidental and secondary to the residential use of the premises, shall not change the residential character thereof and shall not be incompatible or disturb the surrounding residential uses.
  2. All home occupations shall be conducted entirely within the principal dwelling and shall not be conducted in accessory buildings,   including attached garages.
  3. Entrance to the home occupation shall be gained from within the structure, the home occupation shall not have a separate   dedicated entrance.
  4. Evidence of the home occupation shall not be visible from the street except for any signage that may be allowed in accordance with Section 118-339 of this Code.
  5. No person other than those who customarily reside on the premises shall work on-site for the home occupation.
  6. No home occupation shall require external alterations or exterior construction features not customarily found on residential     dwellings.
  7.  The home occupation shall meet all applicable building and fire codes.
  8.  Home occupations such as teaching, personal training, coaching, and similar services are limited to three students on site at any    given time. 
  9.  A massage therapist, counselor, photographer, barber, or someone providing a similar personal service or grooming service, is      limited to no more than one client waiting for services and no more than one client receiving services at any given time.
  10. A retail or wholesale operation must be conducted completely by mail or delivery or must be by appointment only with no more         than one customer visiting the home occupation site at any one time. 
  11. Shipment and delivery of products, merchandise or supplies shall regularly occur only in single rear axle straight trucks or smaller    vehicles normally used to serve residential neighborhoods.
  12. No home occupation shall be conducted between the hours of 10:00 PM and 7:00 AM. This provision is not applicable for home       offices, as defined in Section 118-8, that do not have client/patron site visitation.
  13. Home occupations that create a need for more than three (3) parking spaces at a given time in addition to the parking spaces         required by the occupants of the dwelling, shall not be permitted. 
  14.  In no case shall the permitted home occupation cause or create the need for an additional driveway access to the property.
  15. Home occupations that are recording studios or similar uses, if they involve the use of on-site facilities by paying customers who do not reside on the premises, are not allowed without an Interim Use Permit.

Prohibited Home Occupations

The following is a list of uses that are NEVER allowed as home occupations in South St. Paul:

  1. Flea markets.
  2. General retail or wholesale operations that allow walk-in customers.
  3. Restaurants, cafes, and similar types of commercial food service.
  4. Manufacturing or machine shops.
  5. Repair, service, building, rebuilding, or painting of motor vehicles, including trucks and boats.
  6. Junkyards, motor vehicle salvage operations, and recycling processing centers.
  7. The sale, lease, trade, or transfer of firearms and/or ammunition. 
  8. Headquarters or dispatch centers where persons come to the site and are dispatched to other locations. 
  9. Sexually oriented land uses.
  10. Commercial kennels.
  11. Body art establishments.
  12. Any use that involves any type of exterior storage of equipment, goods, or materials, except that personal passenger vehicles used in the home occupation may be parked on site.
  13. Any use that involves hazardous materials or activities. 
  14. Any use that produces light, glare, noise, odor, electrical interference, or vibration that will in any way have an objectionable effect upon adjacent or nearby property or right-of-way.


Do I Need a License?

Those business types that require a license, such as massage therapy, still require a license even if the business is a home occupation. Any required license shall be obtained prior to the home occupation beginning operations


If you have questions about home occupations, please contact the Zoning Administrator at (651) 554-3217 or mhealy@southstpaul.org.