Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing

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:

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 page.


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)

Severe Alert Jul 29, 2016 The Second Phase of Chicago’s Plastic Bag Ban Will Take Effect on August 1, 2016
Severe Alert Apr 11, 2016 2016 Tobacco Ordinance Changes
High Alert Apr 25, 2016 Valet Parking Operator business license processing now at BACP's SBC
Low Alert Sep 22, 2015 Check out our updated Contact Information for the Department of Buildings.

Most Recent News (Inspections, Permitting, and Licensing)

Jul 29,2016 Free Social Media Workshop Series Returning To City Hall
Jul 25,2016 Emerging Business Permit Paves Way For Parking App Company To Operate In Chicago
Mar 21,2016 Mayor Emanuel Invites All to Chicago Residents Service Fairs
Feb 26,2016 City Hosts First Small Business Expo ‘On The Road’ Series For 2016
Feb 25,2016 City of Chicago Partners With Fifith Third Bank To Expand 2016 Small Business Expo ‘On The Road’ Series

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


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Supporting Information

View all Supporting Information