Opening a Business in Barrington

opensignIf you are considering opening or expanding a business in Barrington, this information will help walk you through the various permitting and review processes. We hope this will help you avoid surprises that could result in delays that otherwise are avoidable. Please note that meeting all the requirements can take several months to complete.

Not all questions you may have will be answered here. Feel free to call Town officials as needed, and we will be happy to work with you to answer any questions. The Town of Barrington’s offices are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

You can also download the Town's Opening a Business in Barrington guide.


Step 1: Gather Relevant Information

Prior to meeting with the Building Official (Step 2), take a moment to write down the following information:

  • The type of business you intend to open and the hours of operation

  • Proposed location

  • A complete description of the services or items to be sold by your business

  • Number of employees

  • Previous business at location (if applicable)

Permit forms can be found here.

Step 2A: See Building Official about Zoning Status, Permitting Process

The next step is to contact or visit the Building Official (phone: 247-1900 x1). Based upon your information (see Step 1) the Building Official can advise you of what you will have to do to satisfy zoning and building codes.

The Planning and Development secretary also can provide you with the meeting times and dates as well as whom to contact for any of the local boards or commissions that may need to review your application. There may also be state agencies that will need to be contacted regarding your business, such as the Division of Taxation, the Department of Health, CRMC, DEM, DOT, and others.

TIP: If there is a "change of use" under the Building Code,
a RI registered architect or engineer may be required
on your part to evaluate the building you plan on
renting or buying for code and ADA accessibility

Step 2B: Discuss Planning Board Application Requirements

Anticipate meeting with the Town Planner (phone: 247-1900 x343) to discuss the Planning Board application process. It is possible that your business will require action by the Planning Board and/or Technical Review Committee prior to the issuance of a building permit. In general, this is needed for the following:

  • A new commercial sign (most common application)

  • Expansion of use requiring additional parking

  • Site changes (such as adding parking)

  • Exterior building modifications (not including paint)

  • New building construction or addition

Planning Board and TRC application forms can be found here.

TIP: Professional assistance-legal, architectural and/or
engineering (and sign design) - may be required to
proceed with the project through the Planning Board/
TRC and Zoning Board review processes.

Step 3: (As Needed) Submit Required Planning Board and/or Zoning Board Applications

The Zoning Board and Planning Board processes involve formal submittal of an application and one or more public meetings/hearings. The Planning & Development secretary will provide you with an information package explaining the process and outlining the fee schedule. For Planning Board applications, the Town Planner must certify the application as complete, prior to being placed on a future Technical Review Committee or Planning Board meeting agenda. TRC and Planning Board review may be required.

Step 4: See Town Clerk’s Office about Licenses, Etc.

You should plan to stop at the Town Clerk's Office to find out whether or not you will need a license to operate. While the majority of businesses in Town do not require a permit from the Clerk, food preparation, holiday sales, second hand dealers, and other unique operations do need licenses, which are administered by the Town Clerk's office. Businesses will need to register the business name with the Clerk.

Town Clerk forms can be found here.

Step 5: Contact Fire Department about Fire Codes, Etc.

The Fire Department is responsible for enforcing the fire codes as they apply to smoke detectors, emergency access, exit and emergency lighting, fire suppression systems and other issues. A current Fire Safety Code inspection is required on all buildings and businesses prior to opening a new business. Contact the Department to arrange for an inspection.

Step 6: Contact Police Department

You should also provide the Police Department with your name, home address and phone number as well as whom to contact in the event of an emergency. Information regarding your security company is also desirable.

Step 7: Apply for Certificate of Occupancy

Once construction is complete and the Building Official's office has made the appropriate final inspections, an application for a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) can be filed with the Building Official. In general, a CO will be issued once the various departments determine that your business meets the standards and/or regulations established by that department. If applicable, the Town Planner must certify that the Planning Board’s requirements have been met prior to the issuance of the CO.


We recognize that the regulations you have to comply with when starting a business can seem overwhelming. These requirements are in place for your protection and for the benefit of your consumers as well as that of the community. We will do everything possible to assist you in your endeavor.