Start a Home Business

Home businesses, also known as home occupations, are generally allowed in residential zones in Salem. ​You do not need special approval or a business license to start a home business. However, your business must meet certain standards, which are described below. [Salem Revised Code (SRC) Chapter 700]

Types of businesses

Home businesses can provide a service but cannot include on-site sales. Some examples of businesses that are allowed include the following:

  • Massage therapist
  • Dress-making or alterations
  • Mail-order business
  • Caterer
  • Home office of a lawyer or accountant

People involved in the business

  • Resident operated: You must live on the property to operate a home business.
  • One non-resident: Only one non-resident employee or volunteer can work on your property.
  • Additional people: Additional people may be employed by or associated with your home business as long as they do not report to work or pick up/deliver at your property.
  • No gatherings: Your property cannot be used as a gathering place for non-resident people who work off-site.

Structural limitations

  • Enclosed structures: Business operations must occur in enclosed structures and cannot give the appearance of a business.
  • Accessory structures: The total floor area of all accessory structures used in connection with your home business cannot cover more than five percent of the total lot area.
  • Business space: The total floor area of all buildings and accessory structures used in connection with your home business cannot exceed 25 percent of the habitable space of your home.
  • Alterations: No alterations can be made to the building that would prevent it from being used exclusively as a residence in the future.
  • Off-street parking: No alterations to your property can be made that would reduce the number of off-street parking spaces required for your residence(s) under SRC Chapter 806.

Vehicles and parking

  • Customer parking: Parking of customer's or client's vehicles cannot create a hazard or excessive congestion.
  • Deliveries and pick-ups: Delivery and pick-up of materials can only be made by vehicles not exceeding two axles in size.


  • Hazardous materials: On-site storage of hazardous materials not normally incidental to household living, such as toxic, explosive, noxious, combustible, or flammable materials is prohibited.
  • Outside storage or display: Outside storage or display of materials, equipment, or merchandise used or produced in connection with your home business is prohibited.


  • Business Signage: Signs that are no more than one square foot by one square foot (1x1), that are not illuminated, are permitted without a sign permit. Larger signage, illuminated signage and additional signage may be permitted with a sign permit depending on the zoning of the property.

Respectful business operation

Your home business cannot create a public or private nuisance such as the following:

  • Noise or vibrations
  • Odors, fumes, or smoke
  • Fire hazard