Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing
City Services

Visit the Small Business Center for information on licenses, permits, and additional resources

Visit the Small Business Center website, for information on licenses, permits, and additional resources



Links to related Departments:

  • Department of Buildings (DoB)
  • Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP)
  • Fire Department (CFD)
  • Department of Housing & Economic Development (DHED)
  • Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD)
  • Department of Public Health (CDPH)
  • Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)
  • Department of Water Management (DWM)

Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing

Information for homeowners, builders/developers/contractors, business owners, and more!


Photo of Chicago Flag

City of Chicago's Guide to Inspections

The 4 Main Types of Inspections:

  1. Permits (inspections to achieve a permit)
  2. Annual / Quarterly (inspections to maintain status)
  3. Business License (required inspections to obtain new licensing)
  4. Complaints (inspections prompted by a complaint)

Common Reasons for Failing an Inspection

Inspections are required for several reasons and at various times during the life a business.  View common reasons that businesses fail inspections, including both NEW businesses and EXISTING businesses.


Important Steps Before You Start a Business:

Before taking out a business loan, signing a lease, or applying for a business license, ensure that the site where you intend to operate is in an appropriately zoned area and that it complies with the current Chicago Municipal Code.  The Code is frequently updated so a new owner needs to check current zoning and code regulations and not assume the previous owner's designation applies.

The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection also holds FREE business workshops the first Wednesday of every month.  To download the schedule of dates and additional details please reference this PDF.


Photo of retail worker cleaning a kitchen

Retail Food Service

This link provides information regarding businesses that sell or serve food and/or liquor.

General Retail - photo of women shopping

General Retail / Professional Services

This link provides information regarding professional service companies and retailers other than food retail.


Manufacturing / Warehouse

This link provides information regarding manufacturing industrial businesses.

 Photo of 2 workers doing construction

Construction / Renovation

This link provides information regarding new construction and rehabilitation work as well as additional developer / contractor links and information.

Contractors - third party

Contractor / 3rd Party Certification

This link provides information regarding self-certification for business/property owners as well as required certifications for contractors.

Street with signs above shops


This link provides information regarding requirements and permits for signs that hang over the public way or require Department of Buildings or Zoning approval.


Alerts (Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing)

High Alert Jul 3, 2014 Longer Life & Reduced Inspections for Chicago Taxicab Vehicles!
High Alert Jun 10, 2014 See Something? Report it to 311!
High Alert May 28, 2014 Filling Station Ordinance Effective June 1, 2014
High Alert Apr 24, 2014 Clean Indoor Air Ordinance (No Smoking: Including E-Cigarettes)
Low Alert Sep 12, 2014 Heat Season Begins September 15, 2014

View all Alerts (Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing)

Most Recent News (Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing)

Aug 27,2014 Social Media Boot Camp Coming To City Hall in September
Aug 01,2014 City of Chicago Hosting New Workshops about Happy Hour Law and Pedicab Licensing
Jul 18,2014 Deparment of Buildings, Public Health Remind Residents That Guards and Code-Complaint Window/Door Screens are Vital to Child Safety
Jun 25,2014 Mayor Emanuel, Alderman Burnett, Alderman Pawar And The Chicago For All Coalition Introduce Moratorium On SRO And Residential Hotel Conversions
May 28,2014 City Introduces Ordinance Strengthening Inspection And Reporting Requirements For Rooftop Water Tank Structures

View all News Releases (Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing)


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Supporting Information

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