On April 4, 2017, Act 19-2017 added a new article 8.4A to Act 161-2009, as amended, known as the Act to Reform the Permitting Process of Puerto Rico, to establish a new permit process for businesses in Puerto Rico.

Pursuant to article 8.4A of Act 161-2009, new and existing commercial buildings, as well as new and existing businesses, shall obtain a Single Permit (“Permiso Único” in Spanish) to begin or continue its operations.

On May 7, 2019, the Puerto Rico Planning Board issued Joint Regulation No. 38, known as the Joint Regulation for the evaluation and expedition of permits related to the development, land use and business operations, (hereinafter referred to as “JR 38”) to establish the regulatory framework under Act 161-2009 effective from June 7, 2019. JR 38 establishes all the requirements and processes that businesses must follow to obtain and update all their permits and licenses.

As set forth on Section of JR 38, the Single Permit consolidates and incorporates all licenses, authorizations or certifications of a business into one application with the purpose of simplifying the business process to initiate or continue its operations.

The Single Permit is one document that includes:

  1. Use Permit;
  2. Categorical exclusion certification;
  3. Fire prevention certification;
  4. Environmental health certification;
  5. Health licenses;
  6. Other applicable business licenses (i.e. retail cigarette/tobacco license)

The Single Permit will be issued by the Office of Permits Management (“OGPe” by its Spanish Acronym) through the Single Business Portal (link), and it shall be renewed annually.

According to Section of JR 38, the renewal of the Single Permit shall be filed to later than 45 days before its expiration date. Late applications shall be subject to additional charges. Beware that renewals submitted outside of the two-year window following the expiration date of the Single Permit shall be treated as new applications.

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