To conduct business in Chicago, business owners must first obtain the appropriate business license(s) with the City of Chicago, Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), Small Business Center (SBC). Your business registrations (e.g. EIN with the IRS, DBA with Cook County, or CORP/LLC with the State of Illinois) are not business licenses, but are prerequisites for your City of Chicago business license application.
The SBC is the business licensing division of BACP, and the City’s “one stop shop” for business licensing, public way use permitting, and connecting entrepreneurs and business owners to business resources. Schedule a free appointment to meet with an SBC Business Consultant by calling 312-74-GOBIZ (744-6249). The following is a guide for business owners, and/or their legal representatives, looking to apply for business licenses in Chicago.
Photo Credit: Chicago City Hall, Eric Allix Rogers
Find out about the City’s licensing requirements and processes.
Before applying for a City of Chicago business license, your business entity must be registered with the appropriate government agencies; if applicable, obtain any professional/industry-specific State of Illinois license(s) or certification(s); find out the license application requirements.
There are two ways to apply for a City of Chicago business license: (1) In-person at the SBC in City Hall, or (2) online via the Chicago Business Direct, which is the City’s online business license application, renewal, and management system.
Regardless of your business license application method, in-person or online, the application requirements and process are similar.
In addition to issuing business licenses, BACP, through its Public Way Use (PWU) unit, is the City department that issues general Grants of Privilege for the use of the public way.
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