Most businesses are required to a hold business license from the City of Chicago and/or the State of Illinois. Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection provides a list of businesses that might be exempt. You can apply for a City license online or visiting room 800 of City Hall (121 N. LaSalle Street) and speaking with a consultant.

Common Business License Types

City of Chicago Business License Guide

(Illinois Licensed Professions not requiring City of Chicago Business License)

Day Care/Preschool

Children Activities Facility

Mobile Food (Truck) Dispenser License

Home Occupation/Home-based Businesses

Shared Housing/Accommodations (e.g Bed-and-Breakfasts)

–> Shared Housing FAQs   (ordinance 6-22-16)
–> Vacation Rental Factsheet
–> Investigation/Complaint Form

Itinerant Merchant License   (app)

Street Performer License

Amusement/Entertainment Related: PPA, PAV and Indoor Special Event Licenses

A Public Place of Amusement or PPA License is required for many types of businesses or non-profits that produces, presents or conducts any type of amusement. This would include live theater, child activity centers, music venues, facilities rented for parties and places that have DJ’s. Whether or not you charge for amusements, if your venue has a capacity of over 99 people, you are required to hold a PPA. Performing Arts Venue or PAV license can be used by smaller theaters.

Tobacco Dealers and Licenses

—> Tobacco Dealers

—> Tobacco Licensing in Chicago

Liquor Licenses: Tavern, Package Goods, Incidental and Outdoor Patio

Liquor licensure is regulated by the Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection, and the Local Liquor Control Commission. As part of the application process, businesses will often be required to obtain the alderman’s approval. In the 47th Ward, 47th Ward Quality of Life Committee vets new liquor license applications. As part of the approval process, local community groups (like block clubs and chambers of commerce) are sent information on the applications and asked for feedback. Typical community concerns brought up with new drinking establishments are noise, littering, and other nuisance and criminal activities. Potential licensees should do everything to proactively address these concerns.

Chicago’s Quick Guide to Liquor Licensing

If you have any questions about this process, please contact Ernie Constantino in the 47th Ward Office at 773-549-4555 or ernie@chicago47.org.

Be mindful that some areas have moratoria that prohibit the issuance or transfer of tavern or packaged goods licenses. Please consult this City of Chicago webpage to find if you are applying in one of those areas.

Those seeking new licenses need to complete this questionnaire and return it to Ernie at ernie@chicago47.org. At that time, it will be distributed to the Quality of Life Committee for consideration. You will be notified of needed next steps once the committee has the opportunity to review your questionnaire.

Those seeking to lift a moratorium for an existing business for sale/transfer need to complete this questionnaire and return it to Ernie at ernie@chicago47.org. At that time, it will be distributed to the Quality of Life Committee for consideration. You will be notified of needed next steps once the committee has the opportunity to review your questionnaire.

There are some areas of the city that have been “voted dry” or have a moratorium on liquor licenses. Please contact the 47th Ward office if you believe your proposed business may be in one of these areas.