Applying for a Business License

The Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) issues business licenses to businesses operating in Chicago.

How to Apply 

Online: Apply online via Chicago Business Direct at

In person: Visit the Small Business Center Visit Us webpage for wait times, location, and hours of operation. In person applications require the submission of a Business Information Sheet.

Application stEPS  

Application steps differ by license type. For information on application steps, visit the  Application Steps page or find your business activity on the guide to License Types for license-specific application steps.

Required Documents  

Document requirements differ by license type. For information on general required documents, visit the Required Documents page, or find your business activity on the guide to License Types for license-specific document requirements.

License Types  

Visit the guide to License Types for specific application requirements and steps for your business activity.

LICENSE EXemptions

While most business activities taking place in Chicago require a City of Chicago business license, there are certain business license exemptions.

signs, awnings, and other public way use permits  

If your business will install anything on, over, or under the public way (awnings, signs, light fixtures, etc.) you will require a City of Chicago public way use permit. See the Public Way Use page for permit information and application instructions.

Regulatory Compliance  

You can request a visit by City Business Compliance Investigators to advise you on how to remain compliant with City business regulations. To request an informational visit to your business, email

Business Resources

Stay connected and learn more about business opportunities through BACP’s Business Resource Page or see the Business City Services page for more information.

For questions, email or call 312.74.GOBIZ (744.6249) or 312.744.1944 for TTY

Disclaimer: This information is provided to help the public better understand business and other licensing requirements and procedures in the City of Chicago. This information is general, may not apply to a particular set of facts, and is not legal advice. In the event of any conflict between (1) the Municipal Code or any other law, rule, or regulation (collectively, “applicable law”) and (2) the information and materials provided on this website, the applicable law shall govern.