*** 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; do not assume the previous owner's designation applies. ***
The term “dry cleaner” or “person engaged in the business of dry cleaning” means any person keeping or using more than two quarts of any solvent other than water, including, but not limited to, solvents of the petroleum distillate type, coal tar distillate type or chlorinated hydrocarbon type, for the purpose of cleaning or renovating wearing apparel, fabrics, textiles, drapes, curtains, rugs, blankets, furs, leather or other material, for profit or reward. See Chicago Municipal Code Section 4-100-010.
Step 1: Zoning
Before signing a lease, you should ensure that the location you have chosen for your dry cleaning establishment is properly zoned. You may find this information on the interactive zoning map, in text format on the Zoning and Reference Guide, or by asking a Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) consultant. In addition to zoning requirements, no dry-cleaning establishment in which a flammable solvent having a flash point below 140 degrees Fahrenheit (closed cup tester) is used may be located within 100 feet of a school, church, hospital or theater. See Chicago Municipal Code, Section 4-100-090.
Step 2: Application
In order to operate a dry cleaning establishment, a limited business license (LBL) is required. The following documentation and information is required when applying for an LBL from BACP: the name of your business, business address, square footage, Illinois Business Tax (IBT) number, Federal Employers Identification Number (FEIN) and a photo I.D. The application can be filed online, or in person.
License application fee for Limited business license = $250.00
Fees are based on a 2-year term.
Step 3: Permits and Inspections
Business Affairs & Consumer Protection (BACP) – In addition to issuing business licenses, BACP is the department which handles General Grants of Privilege for the use of the public way. These applications are necessary when a business owner wishes to hang a sign or awning from a building, and the sign or awning hangs over the public way.
Chicago Fire Department – Bureau of Fire Prevention (FPB) – FPB is the department which ensures that fire safety and fire prevention measures are in place.
Chicago Department of Environment (DOE) – DOE issues Air Pollution Control Permits (APC) to install, erect, construct, reconstruct, alter or add a piece of equipment with the potential to emit air contaminants.
Step 4: Additional Licenses and Permits
Hazardous Materials. In some cases, a hazardous materials license is required in addition to the LBL. This license is necessary when significant quantities of flammable or hazardous materials and/or liquids are stored or used at the business location. Information regarding the hazardous materials license can be found in the Chicago Municipal Code, Section 4-115-020. In addition to application information, the applicant must submit proof of arrangements for the disposal of all cleaning solvents and other non-refuse waste by a properly licensed waste hauler.
Step 5: State and Federal Compliance
In addition to the City of Chicago regulations outlined above, new dry cleaning establishments may need to comply with State of Illinois and Federal regulations related to taxation, employment, and health along with other requirements.
You can make an appointment with a business consultant online or by calling 312.74.GOBIZ (744.6249).