License Application Requirements

Business Planning StageZoningBusiness LicensingPermittingAdditional Requirements

Applying for a City of Chicago Business License

Most businesses operating in the City of Chicago require a City of Chicago business license.  A Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) - Small Business Center (SBC) Business Consultant is available to help you determine and obtain the appropriate license(s) for your business.  The following steps outline standard license application requirements.

STEP 1:  Business Information Sheet (BIS) or Chicago Business Direct

Complete a BIS pre-application form (in-person applicants only; not required for online license applicants).  The following information must be provided by in-person and online license applicants:

  • The business name and ownership information, including the legal structure (i.e. Corp, LLC, etc.) of the business
  • The business address
  • Square footage of the business location
  • A detailed description of all business activities conducted on, and off, the business location
  • Identification from all of applicants, such as a valid driver’s license, state ID card, or other government-issued photo ID
  • State of Illinois File Number – if applicable
  • Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) Account ID Number – if applicable
  • Federal (IRS) Employer Identification Number (EIN) – if applicable

Additional Requirements:

  • Depending upon the license type, additional documents may be required.
  • Some business license applications require a fingerprint-based criminal history investigation for every owner, corporate officer, member or any person with a 25% (5% for Liquor applications) or more interest in the business, as well as on-site managers for certain license types; a cost recovery fee of $40 per person will be assessed for the service of fingerprint processing.
  • A separate license is required for each separate business location.

Please check the Business Licenses Guide for links to facts sheets containing additional information regarding specific documentation and application requirements.

STEP 2:  Zoning

A zoning review is conducted to determine if your business activity is permitted in the zoning designation of your business location.   You can use the online interactive zoning map to check any business location zoning designation ahead of time.

STEP 3:  Inspections

Depending upon the license type, an inspection may be required by one or more City departments prior to license issuance.  Please check the Business Licenses Guide for information regarding the specific inspection requirements of business licenses.

To Get Started

Applications may be made online, or in-person by scheduling an appointment with a Business Consultant.  In-person application intake hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The Small Business Center is located in City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Street, Room 800, Chicago, Illinois, 60602.  If you have any questions, please contact us electronically or by calling 312.74.GOBIZ / 744.6249.

Application Fees

Application fees vary and are for a 2 year term.  Any outstanding debt to the City, such as parking tickets, fines or Illinois Sales Tax must be paid before any license can be issued or renewed. 

Business License Exemptions

Some occupations are exempt from City licensing if the occupation/profession is licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  Please note, business activities that are offered but not covered by the State of Illinois license will require a City of Chicago business license.

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