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Get a Business License or Permit

Businesses are regulated by the federal, state, and local levels of government. The legal requirements of your business usually depend on your location and industry. You can use the Small Business Administration's (SBA) permit search engine to see what applies to you. The SBDC can assist you with being aware of the permits and business licenses that apply to your business.

Federal Requirements

It is required for most business types to obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) from the IRS. You can apply online or obtain an application from their website.

Certain industries are regulated by federal agencies. You can check with the Small Business Administration to see what federal permits or licenses are necessary for you.

Illinois Requirements

You must register your business with the state of Illinois if conduct business or have Illinois customers. Visit the Illinois Department of Revenue's web site for more information.

Usually, businesses that require specialized training to operate (such as healthcare services and construction) are regulated by the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations. Visit their website to check your business type and access rules, regulations and permits.

Depending on the industry, your business may also be regulated by other state agencies. You can research what applies to you by contacting the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) at (800) 252-2923.

Local Requirements

These depend on the city and county in which you live. Here is information for business registration in various local areas. The assumed name application applies to many business types and can be obtained from your County Clerk's office.

Here are some examples of permits that may apply to you.

  • Zoning- from your city or county building and planning department. This permit is generally required if you are developing land for specific commercial use.
  • Special building permits- from your city or county building and planning department. This permit is generally required if you are constructing or modifying your place of business.
  • City licenses-generally required by the city where your business is located
  • Health Permit - from your city or county health department.
  • Occupational Permit - from your city or county building and planning development department. This permit is required for home-based business in some jurisdictions.
  • Signage Permit - from your city or county building and planning department. Some jurisdictions require a permit before you can erect a sign for your business.
  • Alarm Permit - from you city or county police or fire department. If you have installed a burglar or fire alarm, you will likely need an alarm permit.
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