Business & Liquor Licensing

Do I Need a City Business License?
 

The City of Chicago requires an annual license for all individuals and corporations that operate, manage, engage in, or maintain a business in the city. However, certain professions that are licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation are exempt from the City requirement.

For a comprehensive list of professions regulated by the IDFPR, click hereFor more information on business licensing in the City of Chicago, click here.

 

Outdoor Patio Licenses

Depending on their location, outdoor seating areas fall under different operating rules and procedures.  If you’re a business with an outdoor seating area on the public right-of-way, you must apply for a sidewalk café permit.

Businesses with outdoor seating, that is exclusively within their property lines, must have an Outdoor Patio License.

The 2nd Ward reviews all sidewalk café applications for compliance with city ordinance, departmental rules, and ADA requirements.  Applications that do not meet the requirements are returned to the applicant for revisions prior to approval. Applicants should familiarize themselves with BACP’s Sidewalk Café Rules & Regulations before applying.

 

Taverns & Liquor Licensing

Any business seeking to operate with a City liquor license must apply for one of the several types of liquor licenses available from the City of Chicago.

All license types are valid for 2 years but what is required, in terms of inspections, background checks, and costs may vary.

The City requires community input for all proposed liquor licenses, but in some areas, a liquor license may be impermissible due to moratoriums. You can visit the City’s interactive mapping website to determine whether a location you’re interested in has a liquor moratorium.


Tavern Licenses

$4,400.00 license fee ($40.00 one-time publication fee)


These licenses are applicable for bars, nightclubs, taverns, pubs, and lounges that sell and serve alcoholic beverages as their primary source of business. This license does not apply to establishments that offer live music, charge entry admission, or have several entertainment devices such as pool tables or arcade games. For those types of establishments, a Public Place of Amusement License is required by the City.

Applicants seeking a tavern license should confer with the required documents page on the BACP homepage. In addition, applicants must complete:

 

  • A criminal history review

  • Onsite inspections by Health, Fire, Buildings – Special Inspections Programs, Plumbing, Ventilation, and the Local Liquor Control Commission


Packaged Goods License

$4,400.00 license fee ($40.00 one-time publication fee)


If your establishment is interested in the retail sale of alcoholic liquor enclosed in the original manufacturer sealed and labeled container, then you will need a Packaged Goods License. These include, but are not limited to, grocery stores, convenience stores, and liquor stores. Alcohol sold by businesses with a packaged goods license cannot have that alcohol consumed on the premises, although there is an exemption for tastings that are in compliance with 5/6-31 of the Illinois Liquor Control Act.

Those wishing to apply for a Packaged Good License should confer with the required documents page on the BACP homepage and are required to undergo:

 

  • A criminal history review

  • Onsite inspections by Health, Fire, Buildings – Special Inspections Programs, Plumbing, Ventilation, and the Local Liquor Control Commission


Consumption on Premise / Incidental Activity Licenses

$4,400.00 license fee ($40.00 one-time publication fee)

Establishments that want to sell alcohol, to be consumed on premises, that is incidental to the primary activity must obtain a Consumption on Premise / Incidental Activity License. These types of establishments are hotels, restaurants, banquet halls, theaters, and bowling alleys. Moratoriums do not apply for restaurants, but may still apply for other businesses. 

Establishments seeking a COP / Incidental Activity License should consult the required documents page on the BACP homepage and are required to undergo:

 

  • A criminal history review

  • Onsite inspections by Health, Fire, Buildings – Special Inspections Programs, Plumbing, Ventilation, and the Local Liquor Control Commission

 

Late Hour Licenses

 

$6,000 license fee ($40.00 one-time publication fee)

This additional license is required for establishments that wish to remain open past the regularly mandated hours (2 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 3 a.m. on Sunday).  Those establishments with a Late Hour License can stay open no later than 4 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and 5 a.m. on Sunday.

In order to apply for such a license, a business would need to first hold either an incidental-consumption license or a tavern liquor license.  Applicants must also submit a petition with the signatures of a majority of the legal voters within the affected area, agreeing to allow the business to apply for a Late Hour License. Additionally, a written, public notice must be sent, via certified mail with return receipts requested, to the Alderman and legal voters within 500 feet from the licensed premises and a public notice sign must also be posted in a secured place and must be clearly visible from the public way.

Conversely, a majority of legal voters living within 500 feet of the licenses premise may also file a petition in opposition to suspend or revoke a Late Hour License.

Applicants seeking a late hour license must apply through BACP and submit the following:

  • Site plan

  • Floor plan

  • Late hour petitions and all other related documents


Applicants must also submit to an inspection by the Local Liquor Control Commission

City Hall Office
121 N. LaSalle St., Room 200
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 744-6836

Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 9AM-5PM

2nd Ward Service Office
1400 N. Ashland Ave.

Chicago, IL  60622

(312) 643-2299

Office Hours: Mon - Fri: 9AM-5PM