Business licensing in the City of Chicago has been simplified and streamlined. The Mayor’s License Reform initiative has reduced the number of business license types, and, as a result, certain business licenses have been eliminated or consolidated.
Additional information about the initiative may be found at our License Reform Information page.
To identify what type of business license you will need, please choose a business sector below that reflects your business activities the closest.
Business licenses are categorized into three classes: 1) Regulated Business; 2) Limited Business; and 3) Specialty Business Licenses (e.g. Liquor, Tobacco, Motor Vehicle Service, etc.).
To apply for a license, you may do so online or in-person by scheduling an appointment with a Business Consultant. Standard application requirements and documentation may be found in our License Application Requirements Information page.
ACCOMMODATIONS – Any business that offers sleeping accommodations for rent or hire such as Hotels, Motels, Single Room Occupancies (SRO), Vacation Rentals or Bed & Breakfasts.
ANIMAL CARE AND SERVICES – Any business that offers animal related services such as boarding, breeding, or training animals for a fee; selling of animals; offering medical assistance or services as well as temporary and permanent animal exhibitions.
CHILDREN SERVICES – Any business that offers services where children are cared for and/or provides recreational, cognitive and/or education activities to children 17 years or younger.
COMMERCIAL AND BUSINESS SERVICES – Any business that offers specific services such as bicycle messengers, board up companies, debt collectors, dry cleaners, expediters, laundry services, or any other business related services.
ENTERTAINMENT - Any business that offers live entertainment, live theatrical or other live cultural performances whether or not a cover charge or admission fee is required for entrance.
FOOD – Any business that offers the sale or service of food / food ingredients directly to the public or to another business.
HOME BASED BUSINESS - Any business that operates from a residence.
HOME REPAIR AND CONSTRUCTION SERVICES - Any business that offers to fix, alter, convert, or improve any property.
HOSPITAL AND COMMERCIAL CARE FACILITIES - Any business that is defined under the Illinois Hospital Licensing Act as a hospital, an assisted living or shared housing establishment where 3 to 16 adults, of whom 80% are 55 years or older, are provided sleeping accommodations and community-based residential care.
LIQUOR – Any business that offers the sale or service of alcoholic beverages.
MANUFACTURING - Any business that transforms materials into a finished product or a raw material for further manufacturing.
MOTOR VEHICLE SERVICES – Any business that repairs motor vehicles, replace or install parts, estimate vehicle damage, stores or maintains over 100 new or used tires, or installing or removing booting devices on motor vehicles. Includes the installation of audio systems, tires, alarms, window tinting and similar activities.
PARKING LOTS / PARKING GARAGE - Any business that offers to store or park two or more vehicles in a facility or on a lot for a fee.
PAWNSHOP / SECONDHAND HAND DEALER - Any business that offers to receive property as security for money / other advances or to sell used or secondhand items.
PERSONAL SERVICES - Any business that offers the service of massage, salon / spa services, tattooing, body piercing, health club, immigration services and other miscellaneous personal services.
RETAIL SALES – Any business that offers the sale of products or merchandise from a fixed location, on the public way or for an interim basis.
TOBACCO – Any business that manufactures, delivers or sells tobacco products or tobacco accessories, retail or wholesale, as well as distributing samples of tobacco products. Tobacco Sellers Rules and Regulations
If you have any questions about new or existing business licenses, please contact us electronically or by calling (312) 74-GOBIZ / 744-6249.