A license to operate may be required depending on the type of business you own. Licensing can be rather complex, and while this page attempts to convey a lot of information about the various licenses, it is recommended that you contact staff for detailed information and to help you through the process. Most licensing is done through the City Clerk’s Office, the City of Racine Health Department, the State of Wisconsin or a combination of these entities.

The following sections contain information and downloadable license applications for current or new business owners in the City of Racine.

Food Safety and Licensing

Restaurant, Tavern and Retail Food Licensing
The following is required:

  1. Complete required application for license.
  2. Submit completed application form(s) to the Environmental Health Division with:
    • Facility plans and specifications. Required for all remodeling, construction, or alterations that will occur.
    • An equipment list that includes manufacturer’s name and model number. All equipment must be National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved, or equivalent. No “home-style” equipment is permitted. Used, NSF-approved equipment must be both refurbished to a like-new condition and approved by the Environmental Health Division.
    • menu list or copy of the restaurant menu that lists all items to be served at the facility.
    • More information on these and other requirements: Plan Review Checklist Plan Review Guide
    • A one-time pre-inspection/application fee must be paid at the Environmental Health Division. Note that special organizations, such as religious institutions serving a limited number of meals annually, are exempt from the pre-inspection/application fee. See WI ATCP Chapter 75 for more information about special organization requirements.
  3. A pre-inspection of the facility is required. All pre-inspections must be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance. All violations found during the pre-inspection must be corrected pursuant to the Wisconsin Food Code* prior to issuance of the license. If a follow-up inspection is deemed necessary, it must be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance.* Retail Food Licenses: Read WI ATCP Chapter 75
  4. Each licensed restaurant, tavern, or retail food establishment must have at least one (1) manager or operator who is certified in food protection practices by the State of Wisconsin within three (3) months of the release of the license.  See Wisconsin Food Service Manager Certification Information, or contact the Environmental Health Division for information on certification.Note: All operational/license fees must be paid in full at the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office prior to the issuance of the license.

Additional Agencies to Contact for Permanent Licenses:

Mobile Food Establishment Licensing
A mobile food establishment is a restaurant or retail food establishment where food is served or sold from a movable vehicle, push cart, trailer or boat and periodically or continuously changes location.  Additionally, it requires a service base to accommodate the unit for servicing, cleaning, inspection and maintenance.

A mobile food establishment does not include a vehicle which is used solely to transport or deliver food, a common carrier regulated by the state or federal government, or a movable concession stand designed to operate as a temporary food establishment or a traveling retail food establishment.

Licensing for all mobile food establishments follow the same requirements as regular restaurant, food service and retail food establishments in the Restaurant, Tavern and Retail Food Licensing tab.

Temporary Food Service Permits and Class
If you are holding an event:

  1. Contact the Environmental Health Division (262-636-9203) to determine if your event requires a permit.
  2. If so, they will either provide you with a copy of, or download the Temporary Food Service Permit Application here.
  3. Be specific and detailed when filling out the application. It will be reviewed and follow-up questions and necessary changes will be discussed with the event coordinator.
  4. Mail, fax or turn in the application along with all necessary fees (detailed on the application) to the Environmental Health Division. Note: If faxing, call 262-636-9203 to provide credit card payment information.
  5. There is a special rate available for non-profit organizations. In order to get this rate, you must supply a copy of the organization’s 501(c)3 when applying.
  6. All food handlers must attend a class offered by the Environmental Health Division detailing proper food service.

Law prohibits a temporary event operator from serving food more than three (3) times at the same facility in a licensing year unless it is in association with different events. If you are planning numerous events, other permit options may be available to you. The Environmental Health Division can discuss these options with your organization.

Event Coordinators: Fill out and return the Temporary Event Coordinator Checklist along with your application. Also, review the Temporary Food Service Event Requirements. This booklet contains procedures for setting up food service areas, cooking and storing food, sanitizing work/service areas and more. Knowing and following this information will ensure that the permitting process, as well as your event, runs smoothly and safely.

Additional Agencies to Contact for Temporary Permits

Environmental Health Division: Noise Variance City Hall, 730 Washington Avenue, Room 1 262-636-9203

Clerk/Treasurer’s Office: Peddler’s/Seller’s License, Alcohol/Soda License City Hall, 730 Washington Avenue, Room 103 262-636-9146

Parks, Recreation, & Cultural Services DepartmentSpecial Event at a Park Permit Annex Building, 800 Center Street, Room 127 262-636-9131

Body Art Establishment Licensing

The Environmental Health Division protects the health and well-being of body art establishment patrons in Racine by annually licensing and inspecting their facilities. Body art establishments are those businesses which provide tattoo and/or body piercing services for their clients; they may operate permanently, such as through a storefront business, or on a temporary basis, such as for a fundraiser event.

The following is required for licensing:

  1. Complete the required application for license:Application for Body Art Establishment License
  2. Review the appropriate sections of the Wisconsin State Statutes and Racine Municipal Code:
  3. Complete and submit a business plan to the Environmental Health Division.
  4. Pay the one-time pre-inspection/application fee at the Environmental Health Division Office. This must be paid before any site visits will be conducted.
  5. A pre-inspection of the facility must occur. All pre-inspections must be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance. Any violations found during the pre-inspection must be corrected pursuant to applicable state and local requirements prior to issuance of the license. If a follow-up inspection is deemed necessary, it must be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance.
  6. Pay the license fee at the Environmental Health Division Office. The licensing year runs from July 1 through June 30, and the license fee must be paid annually before July 1 to avoid penalties. Renewal notices will be sent to establishments in the spring of each year; however, it is the responsibility of establishment operators to ensure licenses are paid on-time regardless of the receipt of a renewal notice.

Additional Information

WI Tattooist and Body Piercer Information
WI Tattooing and Body Piercing Establishment Information
US FDA Approved Autoclave & Machine Search
Application for Disposable Tattoo Equipment Variance

Other Agencies to Contact

Building Department
Joint Inspection by Fire and Building Departments; Occupancy Permit
Racine City Hall, 730 Washington Avenue, Room 304
262-636-9464

Lodging Facility Licensing

The Environmental Health Division protects the health and well-being of Racine’s visitors and residents alike by annually licensing and inspecting the numerous lodging facilities within the City. A lodging facility in the City of Racine is defined as a hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, or rooming house.  Operating licenses for these facilities are applied for through the Environmental Health Division.

The following is required for licensing:

  1. Complete the required application for license:  Application for Lodging Facility License
  2. Review the appropriate sections of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Administrative Code and/or Racine Municipal Code for the facility type you will be operating:
  3. Complete and submit a business plan to the Environmental Health Division.
  4. Pay the one-time pre-inspection / application fee at the Environmental Health Division Office.  This must be paid before any site visits will be conducted.
  5. A pre-inspection of the facility must occur. All pre-inspections must be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance. Any violations found during the pre-inspection must be corrected pursuant to applicable state and local requirements prior to issuance of the license. If a follow-up inspection is deemed necessary, it must be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance.
  6. Pay the license fee at the Environmental Health Division Office.  The licensing year runs from July 1 through June 30, and the license fee must be paid annually before July 1 to avoid penalties.An exception to this is rooming houses, for which the licensing year runs from August 1 through July 31; licenses must be renewed annually before August 1. Renewal notices will be sent to establishments in the spring of each year; however, it is the responsibility of establishment operators to ensure licenses are paid on-time regardless of the receipt of a renewal notice

Note: Any lodging facilities which will serve food, contain a pool/whirlpool, etc. will require further licenses to be issued.  Contact the Environmental Health Division with questions.

Other Agencies to Contact

Building Department: Joint Inspection by Fire and Building Departments; Occupancy Permit
Racine City Hall, 730 Washington Avenue, Room 307
Phone: 262-636-9464

If you have questions or would like more information, call 262-636-9203.

Short Term Rentals / Tourist Rooming House (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.)

Tourist Rooming Houses

Rental of a whole or partial residence to visitors for less than 30 days is commonly known as a Short-Term Rental. Its legal term, according to Wisconsin State Statute ATCP 72, is a Tourist Rooming House. These rentals are typically found online through websites that connect homeowners with people who need a place to stay when they’re traveling.

Wisconsin allows for the rental of sleeping accommodations, which can either be rooms in a home or an entire home or cabin, for less than 30 days. A Short-Term Rental operating within the City of Racine must be located in the host’s primary residence. All City of Racine Tourist Rooming Houses / Short Term Rentals must be permitted through City of Racine Public Health Department and inspected annually to verify the operation meets all requirements of Wisconsin Statutes related to public health and safety.

Public Health Laws

Homeowners are required to obtain a Short Term Rental / Tourist Rooming House Permit from the City of Racine Public Health Department prior to offering this service to visitors. A Joint Inspection (Building, Fire and Public Health Departments) must be completed for permit approval. The permitting year is from July 1 until June 30 of the following year. Public Health and Fire inspections will occur at least once every permitting year to ensure continued compliance with regulations. If an initial permit is approved in April, May or June of a given year, such permit will be valid until the end of the following permitting year, on June 30.

Tax Laws

Municipal Room Tax

Room tax must be collected from visitors as required by City of Racine Ordinance 90-55. Check with the City Clerk’s Office at 262-636-9171 for questions regarding room tax.

Wisconsin Sales Tax

Short-term rentals must report and pay Wisconsin sales tax. City of Racine is subject to 5.1% sales tax (5% state, 0.1% stadium). Exception: If a host’s taxable sales are less than $1,000 in a calendar year, a sales tax exemption may apply to the sales. For more information, see Exceptions for Taxes Collected by Residential Short-Term Lodging Marketplaces from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Short Term Rental Permits

Tourist Rooming House Permits

  1. Getting Started

  2. Apply for a Short Term Rental / Tourist Rooming House Permit and Room Tax Permit

  3. Schedule an Inspection

    • Contact the City of Racine Public Health Department – Environmental Health Division at 262-636-9203 to schedule a property inspection. Inspection and permit approval must be completed prior to renting out sleeping accommodations.

Resources

Other Considerations

As a property owner, you may be subject to lease agreements and/or cooperative, cohousing, condominium, homeowner association, or tenant organization regulations.

Costs to Operate

Item Fee
Initial / Start-Up Fees
One-time Pre-Inspection Fee $309.00
Annual Permit Fee (State Mandated) $191.00
Room Tax Registration $3.00
Fire Inspection $50.00
Wisconsin Seller’s Permit $20.00
Total $573.00
Annual Fees
Annual Permit Fee (State Mandated) $191.00
Fire Inspection $50.00
Total $241.00

 

Pet Shop Licensing

The Environmental Health Division annually inspects and licenses pet shops in Racine in order to ensure the well-being of the animals for sale, as well as the persons that purchase them.

Pet shops within the City of Racine are regulated solely by Racine Municipal Code, and are defined as a person or corporation that sells any animals which will be kept by others for pleasure. However, a person selling only animals which he/she has bred and raised is not considered a pet shop.

Public Swimming Pool Licensing

The Environmental Health Division annually licenses and inspects public swimming pool and whirlpool facilities in the City to protect the health and well-being of residents and visitors. In the City of Racine, licenses are required for pools, whirlpools and other water attractions, such as the Dr. Laurel Salton Clark Memorial Fountain in Downtown Racine, which are meant for public use.

The following is required for licensing:

  1. Submit plans and schematics for the water facilities to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (SPS). Plans must be approved by SPS before a license can be issued. The Application for Review should be submitted along with appropriate fees. Click here for more information about the SPS Public Swimming Pools Program.
  2. Complete the required application for license: Application for Public Pool, Whirlpool, or Water Attraction License
  3. Review the appropriate sections of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Administrative Code and Racine Municipal Code:
  4. Complete and submit a business plan to the Environmental Health Division. The plan should include procedures for the regular completion and submission of the Monthly Swimming Pool Report to the Environmental Health Division.Also included should be procedures for use of the Swimming Pool and Water Attraction Fecal Incident Response Report. Refer to the CDC Fecal Incident Response Recommendations for more information.
  5. Pay the one-time pre-inspection / application fee at the Environmental Health Division Office. This must be paid before any site visits will be conducted.
  6. A pre-inspection of the facility must occur. All pre-inspections must be scheduled at least two (2) weeks in advance. Any violations found during the pre-inspection must be corrected pursuant to applicable state and local requirements prior to issuance of the license. If a follow-up inspection is deemed necessary, it must be scheduled at least 72 hours in advance.
  7. Pay the license fee at the Environmental Division Office. The licensing year runs from July 1 through June 30, and the license fee must be paid annually before July 1 to avoid penalties.Renewal notices will be sent to establishments in the spring of each year; however, it is the responsibility of establishment operators to ensure licenses are paid on-time regardless of the receipt of a renewal notice

Other Agencies to Contact

Building Department: Joint Inspection by Fire and Building Departments
Racine City Hall, 730 Washington Avenue, Room 304
262-636-9464

If you have questions or would like more information, call 262-636-9203.

Miscellaneous Licensing Information

The list provided below is not to be considered an all inclusive list of licenses for the City of Racine.  It is recommended that you contact the City Clerk’s Office prior to applying for a license.  

City Clerk’s Office
City Hall, Room 103
730 Washington Avenue
Telephone 262-636-9171
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:55 p.m.

Operators License

Application for Operators – Bartenders License

Stationary Engineer License

The fee for a renewal of a Stationary Engineer License is $25. Please bring a valid identification and your asope card to the City Clerk’s Office.

  • There is no application for Stationary Engineers License