The Department of Buildings
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Social Clubs (aka Private Clubs)

Social Clubs are regulated by the City of Chicago as Private Clubs.

The location where a Private Club may be allowed to be licensed and operate is governed by the Zoning Code. The zoning district for a particular address can be found at: https://gisapps.cityofchicago.org/zoning/

Any build-out or renovation of a Private Club will also require a building permit from the Department of Buildings.  These inspections may include an inspection of the work performed, an inspection for a certificate of occupancy and an inspection for an occupancy placard.

The Department of Buildings will conduct an inspection of a Private Club as part of the Private Club’s:

  • Building Permit Inspection
  • Certificate of Occupancy Inspection
  • Liquor License application processed by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
  • Public Place of Amusement License application processed by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
  • Retail Food License application processed by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection


Please note that in order to qualify for any of the above licenses, the Private Club must first be organized and registered as a not-for-profit corporation under Illinois law, must have been in active-and-continuous existence for at least three years, and must have a dues-paying membership roll of more than 50 members.  Other qualification may also apply.

Private Clubs, including Veterans, Fraternal and cultural clubs, have been a rich and integral part of Chicago and its neighborhoods since the founding of the City.  Although most Private Clubs operate in a responsible, respectful and lawful manner there are instances where Private Clubs are either operating unlawfully or are causing a public nuisance in the community.

If you believe that a Private Club is operating without the proper permits or licenses, or is creating a public nuisance please call 311 to report it. 311 will route your call to the appropriate City department(s) for inspection and enforcement action.  If you see criminal activity occurring in or outside of a Private Club please call 911 immediately.

Related Links:
Liquor License
Public Place of Amusement License
Retail Food License