What should I know about business licenses in Illinois?
Congratulations on opening your new business or growing your existing business in the state of Illinois. This should be an exciting time for you, but it’s important to get a business license – and quite possibly more than one – in order to operate your business legally in The Prairie State, home to over 12 million potential customers.
Unfortunately, we wouldn’t call that easy. The state of Illinois may be ranked #2 among states where businesses are being created the fastest (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), but it is nevertheless a challenge for new business owners. That is especially true in the city of Chicago which, like many urban centers, has strict business license rules and a difficult application process to follow. Indeed, the rules for obtaining a business license in Illinois can appear arbitrary even to seasoned business license experts.
For example, vehicular towing companies have different business license requirements depending on whether they tow for voluntary customers after a breakdown or involuntary customers who were caught trespassing. Moreover, these businesses must obtain a business license from the state if they operate in 5 specific counties. If they operate in neighboring counties, just one license at the Illinois state level will suffice.
Even alcohol licenses are a unique challenge in the state of Illinois. Bar, restaurant, and pub owners typically need to apply for their liquor licenses at the local county level. This is unusual given that most states regulate their alcohol licenses from the state capital.
How many business licenses do you need?
The number of business licenses you need in Illinois depends on a number of unique factors.
These factors include...
- Within which city/county will you operate your business?
- What business activities will you be conducting?
- How heavily regulated is your industry? Etc.
To put it in perspective, we ran the following queries through our own business license research tool. Here are some authentic results:
This may include a local Chicago environmental permit. To obtain this permit, a business owner may need to submit a Recycling Facility Application. The authority also has separate documents related to Environmental Permit Fees.
This may include a state-specific Illinois plumbing contractor license. Illinois requires business owners to review many documents and forms to obtain this license, including an Application for Examination for Plumbers License, a Limited Liability Plumbing Contractor Surety Bond, and a Workers' Compensation Coverage Opt-Out Form.
This may include a county-specific Cook contractor license. It's never easy to obtain a contractor license and Cook County is no exception. At the very least, contractors need to submit a Contractor Registration Application.
Common Illinois business license questions
If you’re starting a business in Illinois then you probably have questions about business licenses. We put together some common business license questions to help out.
No, the state of Illinois does not have a general business license. However, many of the cities and counties in the state require a business license. You must contact your city or county to learn which licenses your business might need.
The cost of a business license in Illinois can vary because they are handled by the different cities and counties. For example, a business license in Chicago could cost between $25 and $3,800 depending on your business.
You can apply online for many Illinois business licenses, but you’ll need to determine the correct business licenses first. Even online, it can still be a complex process. Avalara can help determine, prepare, and even manage your business licenses.