How Do I Acquire a Business License in Illinois?

Date: 05/20/22

Author: Prime Law Group

Did you know that there are more than 1.2 million small businesses operating in the state of Illinois? This means that millions of others have acquired a business license in Illinois and understand just how complex the process can be.

Sure, starting a business in Illinois can be an exciting process. It also comes with a lot of legal and financial responsibilities. So, if you’re thinking of starting a business in Illinois then one of the first things you’ll need to do is acquire a business license.

Don’t worry. We’re here to help you through the whole process.

You’ve asked, “How do I acquire a business license in Illinois?” This article will provide you with a comprehensive step-by-step breakdown for how to do just that. Let’s go.

Different Types of Licenses Available in Illinois

First, it’s important to understand that Illinois offers different business licenses. Each license meets the specific needs of, well, various different types of Illinois businesses. 

The most common type of business license is the Illinois Business License.

This is a “regular” business license. It’s required for all businesses operating in Illinois. The Illinois Business License is valid for one year and you’ll have to renew it annually.

Other types of business licenses available in Illinois include the:

  • Illinois Professional License
  • Illinois Retail License


Each of these licenses has its own set of requirements and is valid for a different length of time. So, as you can see, it’s important to choose the right license for your business.

How do you know which license is right for your business? We suggest speaking with a trusted law firm. However, we can help you with the two most popular below.

The Illinois Professional License

Certain occupations will need an Illinois Professional License. This includes architects, engineers, and land surveyors. The Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation regulates these licenses.

Lucky for you, their online portal is a pretty great resource that makes the process slightly easier than it was a few years ago. 

To get a Professional License, you have to complete an accredited professional education program. Then, you have to pass a state-administered examination. After getting the license, you’ll need to maintain it by completing continuing education credits. 

Professional licenses help to ensure that Illinois residents receive high-quality services from qualified professionals. And, the public is able to check that you’re qualified and that your license is valid by using the IDFPR online portal “license lookup” feature.

Really, it’s a way for the state to ensure that only those with the right training and education are providing quality service. As a result, Illinois residents can be confident that they are receiving the best possible service when they use a licensed professional.

The Illinois Retail License

Plan on selling any type of merchandise? You will need an Illinois Retail License.

This is issued by the Illinois Department of Revenue. You might also hear this called a sales tax permit.

Furthermore, businesses that engage in the retail sale of motor fuels, such as gasoline, must also obtain a license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture

In general, retail businesses have to post their Illinois Retail License in a conspicuous place within the store. The Illinois Retail License grants the business the authority to collect state sales tax on merchandise sold within Illinois. 

Once you have chosen the right license, you will need to complete an application and submit it to the Illinois Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. 

After your application has been reviewed and approved, you will be issued a business license that you must keep prominently displayed at your place of business.

What About Other Local Permits?

Certain businesses require specific permits depending on what they sell or manufacture and where they’re located within the state.

Businesses that manufacture, distribute, or sell alcohol, for example, must obtain an alcoholic beverage license from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. This is on top of getting their license from the Illinois Secretary of State. 

The Illinois Secretary of State’s office oversees all businesses in the state and issues licenses to a variety of businesses, including retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers. 

Businesses engaged in interstate commerce may also need to obtain a federal license or permit from the appropriate agency, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or the Federal Aviation Administration. 

In addition, companies that import or export goods may need to obtain a customs license from the US Customs and Border Protection agency. Obtaining the proper licenses and permits is essential to comply with federal and Illinois laws.

Building & Zoning Permits

With so many businesses online these days, we’ve found that fewer applicants are having to worry about building and zoning permits. However, if you’re going to be renting, purchasing, or building a business space, this is important to consider as well.

Generally, building and zoning permits are handled by each city. So, if you’re unsure whether or not this applies to you, we suggest contacting the city where you’ll be building, purchasing, or renting.

Working from home? Actually, depending on the city, home-based businesses might also have to apply for a special permit called a “home occupation permit.”

So, really, we’d suggest that you consult with a business specialist or lawyer specializing in business matters that relate to zoning, permits, and business license applications.

What is a Business License and What Does it Do For Your Company in Illinois?

If you think that applying for an Illinois business license is a hassle then just wait! It’s actually a great way for the state to ensure that your company is legitimate and operating legally. 

So, it not only ensures that you’re operating safely and legally, thereby validating the quality of your company, but it also helps you as a consumer know that other businesses are following the same rules.

So, at the end of the day, a business license is a great way to have some peace of mind.

When consumers see that your company is licensed, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. Similarly, other businesses will be more likely to partner with you if you have a valid license. 

In short, getting a business license is essential for any Illinois company that wants to operate legally and earn the trust of its customers. But, what about the application process?

What Are the Illinois Business Registration Application Requirements?

The business license application is also known as the REG-1 form. It will ask for basic information about your company, such as the business name, address, and contact information. 

You’ll also need to list the type of business you’re operating and provide a brief description of your products or services. And, finally, you’ll have to provide either your SSN if you’re registering as a sole proprietor, or your FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number).

So, it’s important that you have all of that on hand before submitting your application (we suggest actually looking at the application at the link above to see exactly what they’ll require from you)/

It’s important to note that when you fill out the REG-1 form, you’re also applying to get your Illinois Business Tax Number (IBT). All businesses in Illinois will need this number if they plan to:


Once you’ve submitted the application, you’ll be issued a license that must be renewed on a yearly basis.

How Do I Acquire a Business License in Illinois?

Applying for a business license in Illinois is a relatively simple process. However, the process for applying for a business license varies depending on the type of business you’re running and the city or county where you’re located. 

There are a few general steps that all applicants can follow, though.

First, you’ll need to gather the required documentation. This will vary depending on your business type but may include things like your Articles of Incorporation or LLC Operating Agreement.

You will also need to have:

  • Your Federal Employer Identification Number or Social Security Number
  • Legal business name (or DBA if it’s different from the legal business name)
  • Illinois Secretary of State identification number


So, be sure that you have all of these required elements before submitting your application.

Once you have all the required documents, you’ll need to submit them to the appropriate office. In most cases, this will be the Secretary of State’s office. There is usually a filing fee that must be paid when submitting your application. 

If everything is in order, you should receive your business license within a few weeks. Once you have your license, you’re free to start operating your business in Illinois!

The Cost of a Business License in Illinois

The cost of a business license depends on the type of business you’re running and the location of your business. 

For example, a business that sells food or alcohol will need to obtain a different license than a business that provides professional services. The cost of the business license also varies depending on the city or county where the business is located. 

In general, businesses in larger cities will need to pay more for their business license than businesses in smaller towns. 

Roughly, the cost of a business license in Illinois ranges from $25 to $500, depending on the type of business and its location. If your business is in Chicago, expect to pay a bit more.

For example, the City of Chicago’s business license page notes that applicants can expect to pay about $165 for a business license for a daycare center. However, that application fee goes up to $6,600 for a caterer.

Renewing and Maintaining Your Business License in Illinois

As established, Illinois businesses must have a state-issued business license, which must be renewed on a yearly basis. Typically, an Illinois business license expires on June 30th of each year, and the renewal fee is $250.

Businesses can renew their license online, by mail, or in person at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. To renew online, businesses will need their Illinois business license number and credit card information. 

To renew by mail, businesses will need to fill out a renewal form and include a check or money order for the renewal fee. Finally, businesses can renew their Illinois business license in person at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. 

Businesses will need to bring their Illinois business license and the renewal fee to the office. 

Overall, once you have the initial license, the Illinois business license renewal process is simple and easy to follow.

What About Insurance Requirements?

Illinois businesses must have a valid Illinois business license. And, some Illinois businesses also need to have workers’ compensation insurance. 

Other potential insurance requirements, depending on your business, might be:

  • Unemployment insurance
  • Automobile liability insurance
  • Professional liability insurance. 


In general, because this is an area that differs greatly from business to business, you should contact an insurance agent to determine what type and how much insurance you might need to take out.

Is that big of a deal? Yep, it can be!

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in significant penalties, including fines and the loss of one’s business license. So, it’s pretty important for all business owners to be aware of the insurance requirements in Illinois.

Need Help Getting an Illinois Business License?

You started this article with the question, “How do I acquire a business license in Illinois?” And, hopefully, we’ve helped answer that question!

Here’s what it comes down to, though: If you’re looking to start a business in Illinois, you’ll need to get a business license. This process can be confusing, but our team is here to help. 

From figuring out what kind of licenses, permits, documents, and numbers your business might need to filing the paperwork, this somewhat simple process can easily turn into a seemingly never-ending journey of documents and emails.

However, you don’t have to go at it alone. Contact us today for a consultation about how we can help you get your business up and running as quickly and easily as possible.

Looking for a Corporate Attorney?

Let us Help you take that next step, call us today for a free consultation at Prime Law Group, LLC.

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