How to Get Business Licenses in Illinois | A Comprehensive Guide

Illinois Business License

Starting a new business is an exciting venture, but it’s essential to understand the various licenses required to operate legally within Illinois. Forming an LLC in Illinois requires licenses, as different industries and locations have specific regulations. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to Illinois Business Licenses, helping you navigate the process and ensure your new venture complies with all necessary requirements. By understanding the permitting landscape in Illinois, you can ensure that your business is fully prepared to succeed while avoiding potential legal pitfalls.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you easily obtain a business license in Illinois. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Business License in Illinois?

A business license is a legal authorization, permit, or document that allows a business to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city, county, or state. Illinois business licenses are issued by Illinois Secretary of State and ensure businesses comply with applicable laws, regulations, and standards in their respective industries.

A business license protects public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring businesses operate responsibly and lawfully. Acquiring a business license often involves registering the business, paying applicable fees, and meeting specific requirements or qualifications for the type of business.

Business licenses can vary greatly depending on the location and nature of the business. Some common types of business licenses include:

1. General Business License: This is a basic license required for most businesses to operate within a specific jurisdiction, such as a city or county.

2. Professional and Occupational Licenses: These licenses are specific to certain industries or professions, such as healthcare, construction, real estate, or cosmetology, and are typically issued by state licensing boards or agencies.

You must have a professional and occupational license to form Illinois General Partnership and offer your service. 

Here are some examples of Professional and Occupational Licenses:

  • Medical License: Physicians, surgeons, and other healthcare professionals must obtain a medical license to practice medicine in a specific state. The Illinois medical board issues this license after verifying the applicant’s education, training, and examination results.
  • Realtor License: To become a realtor in Illinois, you must obtain a real estate license to buy, sell, or lease properties on behalf of clients. Illinois has its own real estate commission or board responsible for issuing licenses and regulating the industry.
  • Contractor License: General contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other construction professionals must often have a contractor license to work in Illinois. 
  • Cosmetology License: Professionals in the beauty industry, such as hairstylists, estheticians, and nail technicians, must obtain a cosmetology license to provide services. Illinois Boards of Cosmetology oversee licensing and regulations for this industry.
  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA) License: Accountants who wish to become a CPA in Illinois must designate and provide specific services, such as auditing financial statements and obtaining a CPA license from Illinois’s Board of Accountancy.
  • Architect License: Architects must obtain a license to practice architecture in Illinois. This typically involves meeting education and experience requirements and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).
  • Attorney License: Illinois Business Attorneys must obtain a license to practice law in a particular jurisdiction, typically by passing the state’s bar examination and meeting other requirements set by the Illinois bar association.

3. Health and Safety Permits: Illinois businesses involved in food service, hospitality, or other industries directly impacting public health and safety may require specific permits from local health departments or regulatory agencies.

4. Environmental Permits: Illinois businesses that involve activities that may impact the environment, such as waste disposal, air or water emissions, or hazardous materials handling, may require permits from local, state, or federal environmental agencies.

5. Sales Tax License: Illinois businesses that sell goods or services may be required to collect sales tax from customers and remit it to the appropriate tax authority. A sales tax license is typically required to collect and remit sales tax legally.

Illinois business owners must research the specific licensing requirements for their business in their jurisdiction and obtain all necessary licenses and permits to operate legally and avoid potential fines, penalties, or legal troubles.

Requirements For Getting Business Licenses in Illinois

If you start an LLC or any other type of business, you must wait until your Illinois business registration is complete. Once you have completed the necessary steps to register your business in Illinois, you must be prepared with the required documents to apply for business licenses.

  • Name of your company
  • Phone number and company address
  • Employee Identification Number (EIN)
  • Your company’s legal structure (Corporation, Partnership, or LLC)
  • Your business strategy, which includes revenues and costs

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How to Get a Business License in Illinois

To get a business license, you must follow the guidelines below, including determining if your Illinois business requires a license or permit, identifying the appropriate licensing agencies, researching license and permit requirements, completing and submitting license applications, and maintaining license and permit requirements.

Step 1: Determine The Required License or Permit

The first step in obtaining a business license is determining if your business needs one. Some businesses may not require a license or permit, while others may need multiple licenses depending on their industry and location. Some businesses typically require some form of licensing or permit:

  • Professional services, such as medical, legal, and accounting
  • Food establishments, including restaurants, bars, and catering businesses
  • Retail businesses, including stores, shops, and online retailers
  • Construction and contracting companies
  • Manufacturing and industrial businesses

State Licenses

The licenses that you must get first are the licenses within the state. Illinois state licenses require individuals or businesses to engage in certain activities or professions legally. The state government issues these licenses and serves as proof that the license holder has met certain qualifications and standards set by the state. The types of licenses vary depending on the profession or activity, including but not limited to healthcare professionals, contractors, real estate agents, and drivers.

State licenses assure the public that the license holder has undergone the necessary training and education to perform their duties safely and competently.

Federal Licenses

Federal licenses in Illinois are granted by federal agencies and are required for certain activities and industries that fall under federal jurisdiction. These licenses ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations and are necessary for individuals or businesses engaged in the following services.

  • Agriculture: License issued by The U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Aviation: License issued by The Federal Aviation Administration
  • Alcohol & Tobacco: License issued by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Ammunition, Explosive, & Firearms: License issued by The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
  • Commercial Fisheries: License issued by The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service
  • Mining & Drilling: License issued by The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement
  • Nuclear Energy: License issued by The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Radio & Television (Broadcast): License issued by The Federal Communications Commission
  • Transportation by Sea: License issued by The Federal Maritime Commission
  • Wildlife & Fisheries: License issued by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Obtaining a federal license in Illinois involves meeting specific criteria and adhering to federal laws and regulations, which can vary depending on the activity or industry.

City-Based License

City-based licenses in Illinois are granted by local municipalities and are required for certain activities or businesses operating within the city limits. These licenses ensure businesses comply with local regulations and ordinances and typically cover business operations, health and safety, zoning, and permits.

City-based licenses vary depending on the location and the nature of the business, but examples may include restaurant licenses, liquor licenses, taxi licenses, and street vendor licenses. Obtaining a city-based license in Illinois involves submitting an application, paying the necessary fees, and meeting specific requirements set by the local government.

Home-Based License

Home-based licenses in Illinois are required for individuals or businesses that operate from their residential property. These licenses regulate and permit activities conducted within a residential setting, such as home-based businesses or rental properties. Home-based licenses ensure these activities comply with local regulations, building codes, zoning requirements, and health and safety standards.

The specific requirements for obtaining a home-based license in Illinois can vary depending on the type of activity and the local municipality but typically involve submitting an application, paying any necessary fees, and meeting specific criteria set by the local government.

Professional License

Professional licenses in Illinois are mandatory for individuals pursuing specific careers or professions that require specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise. The state government grants these licenses and serves to regulate and ensure the competency and ethical practice of professionals in fields such as law, medicine, engineering, teaching, and accounting.

To obtain a professional license in Illinois, individuals must meet education, experience, and examination requirements specific to their profession. These licenses assure the public that they receive services from qualified professionals and protect consumers from potential harm or malpractice.

Step 2: Identify the Illinois Licensing Agencies

Once you’ve determined that your business requires a license or permit, you must identify the appropriate Illinois agencies responsible for issuing these documents. In Illinois, numerous agencies oversee licensing and permitting, including:

  • Illinois Secretary of State: This office is responsible for issuing licenses for many professional services, including legal, medical, and accounting.
  • Illinois Department of Health: Food establishments, healthcare providers, and other businesses related to health and safety may require licenses from this department.
  • Illinois Department of Revenue: If your business sells goods, you may need a sales tax license or permit from this department.
  • Illinois Department of Labor: Businesses that involve construction or contracting may need licenses from this department.
  • Local City or County Governments: Depending on your business’s location, you may also need to obtain licenses or permits from your local government.

Step 3: Research License and Permit Requirements

After identifying the appropriate agencies, research the specific requirements for each license or permit your business needs. This may involve reviewing the Illinois agency’s website, contacting their office directly, or consulting a legal or business professional. Some common requirements for obtaining a business license or permit include:

  • Completing an application form
  • Providing proof of insurance or bonding
  • Passing background checks or inspections
  • Paying application fees

Some licenses or permits may have ongoing requirements, such as annual renewals, inspections, or reporting.

Step 4: Complete and Submit License Applications

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information and documents, complete the application forms for each required license or permit. Be sure to carefully follow the instructions provided by each Illinois agency, as incomplete or incorrect applications can lead to delays or denials.

In addition to the application forms, you may also need to submit supporting documentation, such as:

Proof of Business Registration

You can find it on the Illinois Secretary of State’s website. There should be a search feature specifically for businesses. This will often be labeled “Illinois Secretary of State Corporation/LLC Search“. In the search feature, enter the name of the business you are looking for, and once it appears, you will now have proof of your business registration.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Aside from opening a bank account, you must have an Employer Identification Number in Illinois to file and submit for a business license. An EIN, also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your business for tax purposes. You’ll need an EIN to open a business bank account, file taxes, and hire employees. 

The application of an EIN in Illinois can be through the following:

  • Apply Online- The online EIN application is the preferred method for customers to apply for and obtain an EIN.
  • Apply by Fax- Taxpayers can fax the completed Form SS-4 application to the appropriate fax number), after ensuring that the Form SS-4 contains all of the required information.
  • Apply by Mail- The EIN application Form SS-4 can be filed via mail. The processing time frame to receive the mail is four weeks.
  • Apply by Telephone-International Applicants – International applicants may call 267-941-1099 (not a toll-free number) from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday to obtain their EIN.

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Proof of Insurance, Bonding, or Worker’s Compensation Coverage

To have a business license, you need proof of insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation. You need to obtain a certificate or policy document as additional documents for your proof of insurance. Also, there is a database of businesses with worker’s compensation coverage or require businesses to register their insurance or bonding information. Visit your Illinois Department of Labor, Department of Insurance, or another relevant agency website for information about the business’s coverage.

Professional Certifications or Licenses

As I have mentioned, if you will form a general partnership and offer your service, you must have professional certifications or licenses. 

Submit your completed applications and the Illinois business license fee, which ranges from $50 – $300. The processing times for license and permit applications can vary, so plan accordingly and allow ample time for approval.

Step 5: Maintain License and Permit Compliance

Once you’ve obtained the necessary licenses and permits for your Illinois business, it’s essential to maintain compliance with all requirements. This may include:

  • Keep your Illinois licenses and permits current by renewing them on time, typically annually.
  • Reporting any changes to your business, such as a changing Illinois LLC address. You may amend your Illinois Articles of Organization if you change anything in your Illinois business.
  • Maintaining proper insurance, bonding, or worker’s compensation coverage.
  • Complying with any inspection, reporting, or record-keeping requirements.

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Additional Considerations

In addition to the steps outlined above, there are a few additional considerations to keep in mind when navigating the Illinois business licensing process:

  • Licenses and permits are often industry-specific, so research your business type’s requirements.
  • Some businesses may need licenses or permits from multiple agencies at the state and local levels. Be sure to research and comply with all necessary requirements to avoid complications.
  • If your business operates in multiple locations or across state lines, you may need to obtain licenses or permits for each jurisdiction in which you operate. You can form Illinois Foreign LLC
  • Stay informed about licensing and permitting requirements changes, as regulations can change over time.


What is a business license?
A business license is a permit or registration from a government agency that allows an individual or company to conduct business within a specific geographical area.
Am I required to obtain a business license in Illinois?
Yes, most businesses operating in Illinois are required to obtain one or more licenses, permits, or registrations to operate legally.
Where can I obtain a business license in Illinois?
Business licenses in Illinois are generally obtained through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, or one of its many regional offices.
How do I know which license or registration I need for my business?
The requirements for business licenses and registrations in Illinois can vary based on your specific business type, location, and activities. You can find more information through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as well as through local county and city offices.
What is the cost of obtaining a business license in Illinois?
Fees for business licenses in Illinois vary based on the type of license and your business’s location and industry. Typical fees range from $50 to $500 depending on your business.
Can I apply for a business license online?
Yes, some licenses can be obtained and applied for online.
How long does it take to obtain a business license in Illinois?
The amount of time to get a business license in Illinois varies depending on many factors including the type of license, industry, and your business location. However, it typically takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
What is a sales tax license, and do I need one for my business?
A sales tax license is required for businesses that sell tangible goods. If your business primarily sells services, you may not need a sales tax license. Contact the Illinois Department of Revenue to determine if your business needs special sales tax registration and licensing.
Can I register multiple businesses on one registration form?
It is preferred for you to register each unique business to a separate business license.
How often do I need to renew my business license?
Illinois business licenses typically need to be renewed annually or on a bi-annual basis.
If I am an out-of-state business, do I still need a business license in Illinois?
Yes, out-of-state businesses that conduct origin and destination services within the state will need to pay the state sales tax and register as a seller in Illinois. This may require additional licensing depending on the services offered.
When should I apply for a business license in Illinois?
You should apply for a business license as soon as possible after deciding to start a business
Can I operate without a business license in Illinois?
No, it’s illegal to start operating a business in Illinois without the proper registration and licensing.
Where can I obtain a copy of my Illinois business license?
You can get a copy of your business license in Illinois through the Illinois Department of Commerce and business registration, or local office where the license was issued.
What do I do if I need to make changes to my business license information?
If you need to make changes to your business information after obtaining a license, you can contact the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity regional office to verify what changes can be made and process the correct paperwork.
Should I incorporate my business as an LLC or Corporation?
You should speak with a lawyer to help you determine which entity type is the most beneficial for your business or corporation.
Can I operate my business without the proper zoning and legally-required permits?
No, It is mandatory to acquire all necessary permits and regulations before conducting business in Illinois.
What business structures require a registered agent?
Missouri, by law, requires that LLCs and corporations have a registered agent, which is the general entity contact.
Can I transfer my business license across states?
No, you must apply for and typically obtain separate licenses and registrations based on your new business location.
Why can I need a federal employer identification number, and where do I get one?
You’ll need an EIN if you have employees or want to open a business bank account. EINs can usually be obtained from the Internal Revenue Service’s website.
Do Illinois-based health clinics operated by nonprofit organizations need a license?
Yes, Illinois nonprofit health clinics are required to obtain and maintain appropriate certification from both the Illinois Department of Public Health and U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.
Who can help me with questions about renewing my Illinois business and professional licenses?
The regulatory agency that issued the specific license for your individual industry as well as Illinois Department of Insurance are reliable resources for validity dates
What special permit do I need to open a brewery?
You should obtain additional permits to operate a brewery in Illinois, depending on the specifics of your business. Obtain beverage alcohol components includes regulating brewers and beer creations.
Will my business identify number be different from my EIN?
Yes, the IRS identification number doesn’t match the state business identification number in Illinois.
Can filing a DBA have any impact on my Illinois Sales taxes or income taxes?
Yes, sales taxes collected under that registered DBA could be specific to the state of Illinois. This information should be filed with your state Department of Revenue
Can an individual obtain a business license in Illinois?
Yes, if that individual does business under a unique business entity name/vendor identifier to obtain bulk tracking within the state.
I want to open a get on flats boating company in Illinois, what license do I need?
Boating charters industry requires specific captain certifications and boat certifications. The U.S. Coast Guard together with other regulatory agencies typically issue these permits in Illinois
Why should healthcare companies that require a license in Illinois then pursue professional medical malpractice insurance?
Non-compliance regulations, mishandling of sensitive medical documents, reporting viruses can result in high fess this business will face. This insurance will help protect you against these high fees and possible legal action.
Where do I need to submit state print extra certificates in Illinois in connections with general business registrations?
Discrepancies near your submitted filings will require review from regulatory monitoring boards before providing specialty certificates to ensure your documents are minor and compliant.
What is a business license in Illinois?
A business license in Illinois allows you to operate legally in the state for a specific business activity.
How do I determine if I need a business license in Illinois?
First, verify with local and state business authorities if a license is required for your business.
What types of businesses need a license in Illinois?
Various types of businesses, contractors, and professionals require a license in Illinois as per the specific needs.
Where can I apply for a business license in Illinois?
In Illinois, you can apply for a business license online through the Illinois Electronic Registration/Application.
How much does a business license cost in Illinois?
Business license fees in Illinois vary vastly depending on the activity involved.
What is the Illinois state business license?
Illinois does not have a general state business license; however, various kinds of businesses require permits, registrations, or licenses.
Are there different types of business licenses in Illinois, depending on the type of business?
Yes, Each occupation, business model, profession, and trade may have unique requirements to legally operate in Illinois.
How long does it typically take to obtain a business license in Illinois?
Processing time of your business license depends on the activity you want to participate in through regulations in Illinois.
Can I start my business before my license application is approved?
You cannot start your business before receiving authorization to do so for Illinois.
What are the penalties for operating without a business license in Illinois?
penalties for operating without a business license in Illinois can lead to fines or shut your doors.
Do I need a federal business license to operate in Illinois?
Most businesses concern in Illinois do not need to have a federal business license, but some require a federal permit.
Are business licenses transferable to Illinois?
Business licenses from other states register for an application for endorsement in Illinois before doing business.
What is an Illinois business tax ID number?
Your Illinois business tax ID number exists to identify your business for tax purposes kindly.
How do I obtain an Illinois business tax ID number?
File for your Illinois sales tax number electronically via the Illinois Department of Revenue website.
Do I need to renew my Illinois business license?
All business licenses issued in Illinois have specific expiry dates; plan and renew at least 60-90 days in advance.
Can I renew my Illinois business license online?
Businesses with a location in Illinois can renew their licenses online; a few licenses accept online renewals.
Do I need to maintain a business license for each separate location in Illinois?
Depending on the type of Illinois business license may require site-specific support options.
Can I operate multiple businesses with one license in Illinois?
Some multi-location or multi-activity Illinois business models will only require a single license.
What is a home occupation permit in Illinois?
To establish and conduct a business in a residential area using specific features per Illinois regulations, the permit must permit it, and provisions in Illinois applied may be differing.
How do I obtain a home occupation permit in Illinois?
File your application with your local municipality within Illinois to secure permission for your home occupation permit.
Are there any exemptions for obtaining a business license in Illinois?
Sole proprietors without a business location in will potentially be the sole owners who could generally waive their filing requirement.
What is a building permit license in Illinois?
Both small buyers and business members should be fully understand land use and building codes classifications.
Who needs a building permit license in Illinois?
All operators do involve building permits in different regulatory records include the types of permits industry best practices, vendors, particular issues or differences.
Where can I find information on obtaining a building permit license in Illinois?
Whole graphical details struct themselves out in Illinois with a few information networks online including your local permit office in Illinois.
How do I renew a building permit license in Illinois?
There should be routine updates no performing or by neglect to renew your latest conditions for Illinois permits.
Are business license fees tax-deductible in Illinois?
Fees applied fill an analogous standard custom; but, everyone impacted, say new variance meaning are vital, with regulated position in Illinois to filing tax obligations.
Who can I call in Illinois to ask questions about obtaining a business license?
You can access official contact information for Illinois focused help to guide license formats specific with necessity mean if you have any Illinois or other specific queries.
In a professional services industry like architecture, do I need a separate business license for each employee in Illinois?
It will be varied by business activity and licensing agencies.
What is the Illinois Retail License?
The purpose of a registered domestic enterprise is selling-tangible personal property for retail purposes within Illinois.
How do I obtain the Illinois Retail License?
With appropriate state and Council licenses and allow adequate cross-collaboration; department websites have complete register illinois’s retail license documentation, or you can contact state authorities.

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Obtaining the necessary licenses and permits is crucial in starting a new business in Illinois. Following the steps outlined in this guide and consulting with the appropriate agencies or professionals, you can ensure that your business complies with all state and local requirements. This will protect your business from legal issues and help establish your reputation as a responsible and trustworthy business operator.

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