License Application Requirements Information

Applying for a City of Chicago Business License

Every business operating in the City of Chicago requires a City of Chicago business license.   A Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) business consultant is available to help you obtain a City license.

STEP 1:  Business Information Sheet (BIS) or Chicago Business License Application System 

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
  • 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% or more interest in the business, as well as every on-site manager; a cost recovery fee of $40 person will be assessed for the service of fingerprint processing.
  • A separate license is required for each separate business location.

Please check our Business Licenses web page for 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 our Business Licenses web page for information regarding the specific inspection requirements of business licenses.

To Get Started

Apply In-person
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). 

Chicago Small Business Center
City Hall
121 North LaSalle Street, 8th Floor, Room 800
Chicago, IL 60602

Contact Information
312.74.GOBIZ (744.6249) or 312.744.1944 for TTY.

Hours of Operation
Monday through Friday; 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM

Apply Online

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. 

Application Fees
Application fees and terms vary. 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.

I Want To