In response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Chicago has joined the State of Illinois in issuing a Stay at Home order effective Saturday, March 21st at 5pm CT. In addition, City of Chicago facilities are closed to the public. Staff are prioritizing essential services to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees. As such, we may be delayed in responding to non-essential inquiries and service requests. To stay up to date on the City of Chicago’s COVID-19 response, please click here.
Business licenses and building permits are required to operate a business in Chicago or to ensure that a building construction project conforms to the minimum standards of the Chicago Building Code. To support a thriving business environment, the City must ensure that licenses and permits are issued efficiently and on time.
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP)
Limited Business License
Retail Food License
Electronic Equipment Repair Licenses
Filling Station Licenses
Accessory Garage Licenses
Massage Establishment Licenses
Manufacturing Establishment Licenses
Motor Vehicle Repair Class III Licenses
Department of Buildings (DOB)
Department of Planning & Development (DPD)
Limited Business Licenses (LBLs) are required for all Chicago businesses not specifically exempt from licensing requirements. This includes all business that provide services, or engage in office operations or general sales. Currently the performance target for processing Limited Business Licenses is 3 days.
All restaurants and food stores selling perishable items are required to apply for a Retail Food License (RFL). This metric tracks the average number of days the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) takes to issue RFLs. The target response time for processing is within 15 days.
An Electronic Equipment Repair License is required for businesses that repair electronics such as computers, audio equipment and video equipment. Currently the performance target for processing Electronic Equipment Repair Licenses is 15 days.
A Filling Station License is required to sell gasoline, kerosene or liquid petroleum gas. Currently the performance target for processing Filling Station Licenses is 15 days.
An Accessory Parking Garage License is required when a private garage or lot has extra parking spaces and charges a parking fee to guests or the public. Currently the performance target for processing Accessory Parking Garage Licenses is 15 days.
A Massage Establishment License is required to operate any business where massage services are offered. Currently the performance target for processing Massage Establishment Licenses is 55 days.
A Manufacturing Establishment License is required for businesses that use chemical or mechanical processes to make goods. Currently the performance target for processing Manufacturing Licenses is 15 days.
A Motor Vehicle Repair Class III License is required to operate a business where automobiles are repaired and serviced. It also includes any business where tires are changed or repaired. Currently the performance target for processing Motor Vehicle Repair Class III Licenses is 15 days.
The Easy Permit Process allows home and building owners to obtain a permit to repair or replace the same or existing elements of a building, without making any changes to the structure of the building. Eligible projects include repairing or replacing drywall, flooring, fences, sheds or garages. This metric tracks the average number of days DOB takes to process individual Easy Permits, grouped by the week the permit was processed. The target average process time is within 1.3 days. Click here for an overview of DOB’s Easy Permit program.
The Department of Building (DOB) issues building permits to give individuals, insurance companies, neighbors and the City assurance that specific minimum standards are met in constructing, repairing or altering buildings by complying with the Chicago Building Code. This metric tracks the average number of days DOB takes to process Standard Plan Review Program building permits, grouped by the week the permit was processed. The target average process time is within 53 days. The Standard Plan Review Program is designed for small to mid-sized construction or renovation projects requiring drawings. Eligible projects include buildings up to 80 feet high, institutional or mercantile properties under 100,000 square feet, residential properties of up to 12 units, and foundations no deeper than 12 feet. Click here for an overview of DOB’s Standard Plan Review Permit Program.
The Developer Services Review Program is designed to meet the special needs of owners, developers, architects and contractors working on moderately- to highly-complex construction or renovation projects. Eligible projects include high-rise buildings, mercantile buildings with more than 150,000 square feet, other occupancies with more than 80,000 square feet, buildings with foundations deeper than 12 feet, and residential projects that contain more than 25 units. This metric tracks the average number of days DOB takes to process individual Developer Services Permits, grouped by the week the permit was processed. The target average process time is within 89 days. Click here for more information about DOB’s Developer Services Program.
As part of the City’s sustainability program, the Department of Buildings (DOB) offers expedited permitting for residential, commercial and industrial building projects that meet certain criteria. In addition to fast-tracking, projects achieving exceptional sustainability may be eligible for a fee waiver up to $25,000. Projects that include green technologies (green roofs, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, solar thermal panels, wind turbine and geothermal systems) are required to be submitted through the Green Permit Program. This metric tracks the average number of days DOB takes to process individual Green Permits, grouped by the week the permit was processed. The target average process time is within 71 days. Click here for an overview of DOB’s Green Permit Program.
With a goal of reviewing landmark permits in one-day, the department strives to meet this goal no less than 95% of the time. The Historic Preservation Division staffs the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and reviews all permit applications for work involving designated and proposed Chicago landmarks and landmark districts.
Customers applying for a Building permit will create a web-based on-line Building permit application. As part of an initial review within the Building permit process, the zoning plan examination will be conducted to ensure compliance with the City of Chicago’s Zoning Ordinance which regulates land use. The applicant is able to schedule and be seen by a zoning plan examiner on average within two (2) business days from the date of the on-line application. An applicant may receive zoning approval within the first scheduled appointment if they have followed the instructions and do not require administrative relief for their project. If administrative relief or corrections are required, the applicant can re-submit the application for immediate review and approval upon completion of the corrections or administrative process. An applicant typically requires two plan review visits before the Department of Housing and Economic Development is able to approve the zoning part of the building permit. Upon zoning approval, the average permit issuance time is 53 days.