Applying for a Business License
$25 UPFRONT FEE REQUIRED FOR ONLINE LICENSE APPLICATIONS
License applications made online will be assessed a non-refundable upfront $25 application fee. The upfront fee will be applied towards the final license cost.
The upfront fee enables the City to conduct its personalized application review process while ensuring reduced wait times for online applicants. Applications made in person at the Small Business Center are not assessed the upfront fee.
The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) issues business licenses and regulates business activity in Chicago. A business license issued by BACP is required to conduct most business activity in the City of Chicago.
What business license do I need?
Your business activities determine the types of business licenses for which you are applying. Depending on your business activities, you may need more than one business license to operate your business in Chicago. Additionally, there are business activities regulated by the State of Illinois that may be exempt from City licensing. Please visit our Business License Guide and Information page to determine which license or licenses are required for your business activity.
If your business activities require a BACP business license, documents issued by the State of Illinois or other government entities do not replace the need for this license. You must apply for and receive your license from BACP before beginning operations.
You may also have to register your business with other government agencies. View the 3 Simple Steps to Obtain a Business License for more information.
How to Apply
Business owners or legal representatives of business owners can also apply for a license in-person by meeting with a Business Consultant in the Small Business Center (SBC).
BACP’s online business license application system – Chicago Business Direct – allows business owners or legal representatives of business owners to apply for most City of Chicago business licenses. All business license applications started online must be completed online.
Business Consultants at the Small Business Center can assist with:
- Business license applications
- Business start-up and expansion
- Public Way Use applications and permitting
- Zoning information
- Guidance for other City departments’ business processes
- Scheduling licensing inspections
Standard application requirements, documentation, and license-specific requirements may be found in our Business License Guide and Information page.