Quick Start Guide
This Quick Start Guide is a brief overview of how to form an LLC in the District of Columbia.
District of Columbia LLC Costs:
DC LLC filing fee: $99 (one-time)
DC LLC biennial report: $300 (every 2 years)
Home Occupation Permit for LLCs in the District of Columbia
If you want to run your business from home, you have to get a Home Occupation Permit for your District of Columbia LLC.
It doesn’t matter if you rent or own your own home, you must get a Home Occupation Permit.
It doesn’t matter if you live in an apartment, part of a house, or a single-family home, you still need a Home Occupation Permit.
And it doesn’t matter if you operate your business full time or part time (or how much money you make from it), you must get a Home Occupation Permit.
Note: If you rent or own commercial/office space, then you need a Certificate of Occupancy instead.
Requirements & Restrictions for a Home Occupation Permit
There are certain requirements and restrictions that must be met in order to get a Home Occupation Permit and run your business from your home.
For example, Home Occupation Permits may only be used in buildings that are zoned residential and you can’t use more than 25% of a floor for your business.
You can find the full list on the DCRA website. Look for the bulleted list in the middle of the page:
DCRA: Get a Home Occupation Permit
What’s the purpose of the Home Occupation Permit?
The purpose of the Home Occupation Permit is to keep track of businesses being run out of residential buildings (homes, apartment buildings, etc.).
The District of Columbia wants to allow certain businesses to operate out of homes, as long as the businesses don’t cause harm or cause a nuisance in the neighborhood.
That’s why the HOP application asks questions about how many visitors your business will have, and what hours it will be open.
The District of Columbia doesn’t want you running a store, or other high-traffic businesses from your home, because it could disturb your neighbors. Those kinds of businesses should be operated in a commercial space (like an office or storefront) instead.
How to apply for a Home Occupation Permit (HOP) Online
You can now get a Home Occupation Permit using the DCRA Citizen Access Portal.
You can’t go to the DCRA office and apply in person anymore (as of June 2022).
Approval time: Most Home Occupation Permits are issued within 1-2 weeks after you apply. If your business type requires the DCRA to conduct an inspection, the process takes longer.
HOP fee: $72.60, payable by credit or debit card. You’ll also need to obtain a Letter of Good Standing for your LLC, which costs $50. So the total cost of an HOP Application is $122.60.
- First, create an account on Access DC.
- Then you can login to the DCRA Citizens Portal.
- To finish setting up your account, enter your contact information in the next screen.
On the DCRA Citizens Portal Dashboard, click the Building tab.
Then click the first link, “Request a Building Permit“.
Select a Service Type
Near the bottom of the screen, click the link “Building20” to open the drop down menu.
Select “Home Occupation Permit” from the list.
Then click Continue Application to proceed.
Enter your home (residence) address. This is the address that will be on the Home Occupation Permit.
After you enter your address, click Search & Validate. The system automatically verifies it against District of Columbia city records.
What if my apartment number doesn’t work?
If the system can’t find your apartment or unit number, just leave that field blank for now. The DCRA will manually fix this based on the Proof of Residency documents you upload later.
Select the correct address from the Address Search Result List.
The system will show you Associated Parcels. Usually there’s only one, so you don’t need to select anything here.
Pro Tip: Write down the numbers in the Associated Parcels section. You will need the parcel number and the lot number later in the application.
The system will show you Associated Owners.
If you own your home, your name should appear as an Associated Owner. If you rent your home, this should show your landlord/the property owner.
You don’t need to select anything in the Associated Owners section.
Now you will answer a few questions about your Residence Address.
Premises indicated as the residence is a…
Identify the type of building. The dropdown menu includes these options:
- Condo/Apt Unit
- This is a single unit (a condo or apartment) in a large building of condos/apartments. You might rent the unit, or own it.
- Flat (Two Family Dwelling)
- This is a type of house where two families live independent of each other. You might rent or own the unit.
- Occupied Single Family Dwelling
- This is a house that you own, where only you (your family) live.
- Rented Apartment House Dwelling
- This means you rent one of the apartments in an apartment house. An apartment house is a building with 3 or more apartments.
- Rented Single Family Dwelling
- This is a house that you rent, where only you (or your family) live.
Source: D.C. Municipal Regulations, Rule 11-199
Choose Owner or Tenant.
If you own your home, you’re an Owner.
If you rent your home, you’re a Tenant.
Most people leave this blank.
If your residence has a Board of Zoning Adjustment Order, enter the number here.
Are you operating another business here already?
If this is the first time you’re applying for an HOP at this address, select No.
If you have an HOP already, but changed the type of business you operate, select Yes.
Note: If you change the type of business you operate, you have to apply for a new HOP.
The system might have automatically completed this when you validated your address earlier.
If it isn’t completed for you, you can find these numbers in 2 ways:
- Login to SCOUT. You’ll use the same Access DC login you made to start the HOP process.
- Copy them from the residence address verification above. Here’s what to look for:
You won’t need the Block number.
How to enter the Square Suffix and Lot numbers:
Enter the 4 digit square number, the 4 digit suffix number, and the 4 digit lot number with no spaces between them.
For example: 046208190819.
If your property doesn’t have a suffix, replace it with 4 spaces.
For example: 0642 0811
Applicant Contact Information
Enter your name, phone number, and email address.
Then, identify what your relationship is to the HOP applicant. The drop down menu contains these options:
- I am a relative, friend, caregiver, or associate of the named applicant providing assistance
- Use this if you are a Member of the LLC but not living at the address where the LLC is conducting business that you’re using to apply for the HOP
- I am an expediter or other authorized agent receiving compensation
- Only companies or professional filers use this option.
- I am the named applicant filing on behalf of myself
Most people are filing their own HOP application, so they select “I am the named applicant filing on behalf of myself.”
This is automatically completed when you validate the address based on land records. This should be you, if you own the property, or your landlord/property owner.
For most people, this doesn’t apply. This is a field used by the company or professional if you hire one to file this permit application for you.
Click Continue Application to proceed.
General HOP Conditions
This reminds you of the general rules for getting a HOP. There’s nothing to do in this section.
This application is for:
Select “Limited Liability Company” from the drop down menu.
The next field asks you to enter the name that should be printed on your permit.
If you’re filing an HOP for your LLC:
You should enter your LLC’s name here. Use the full legal name, including the suffix.
For example: Boyer Berries, LLC
You can skip the question about registering a DBA.
If you’re filing an HOP for a DBA of your LLC:
Enter the DBA here and select “Yes” in the next question to confirm that you have registered your trade name.
Describe the proposed business you intend to operate:
Select the appropriate business category from the drop down menu. Some of the options require you to do extra steps or provide extra documents:
- Child Development Home
- Cottage Food
- Licensed Professional (Barber, Cosmetologist, Dentist Office, Doctor’s Office, Hair Stylist, Other)
- Lodging/Bed & Breakfast
Then, enter a brief description of your business. This can be just a few words or a couple sentences.
For example: “Design and code websites” or “I bake cookies, cakes, and other baked goods. I decorate these based on customer requests or my own designs. I deliver the cakes to the customers in my own vehicle.”
Will your proposed operation involve the sale of goods or products?
You must select yes or no.
If you select yes, the system reminds you that you can’t run a “retail” business out of your home. You must provide a written explanation that tells the DCRA:
- what you’re going to sell
- how you acquire or produce the items you sell
- where and how you store the inventory
- if you apply customization, branding, or other modifications to the products you sell
- how you manage sales and delivery to customers
- and what non-resident visitors you expect (will customers come to your home to purchase? will you have suppliers delivering to you directly?)
For example: Let’s say you sell handmade jewelry on Etsy. You could write something like this:
- I sell handmade earrings, necklaces and bracelets. I order the beads, findings, and gemstones online and they are delivered to me by USPS or FedEx. I design, assemble and package the jewelry myself. Customers order my jewelry through an online shop, and then I ship the jewelry to the customer through USPS or FedEx. I don’t expect any non-resident visitors like customers or supplier deliveries.
Other than yourself, how many persons will be employed in your home operation?
Enter a number of employees.
If you are the only person working in the business, enter 0.
What is the total square footage of your residence?
You will need to measure this or find it on your home’s floor plan or deed.
If you live in an apartment, the square footage is usually listed in your lease. If you live in a house, you can check websites like Realtor.com and Zillow for the square footage.
How much of available square feet in your residence will be used in the operation of your proposed business?
Measure the room(s) you will use for your business. This includes areas where you store inventory, and where you produce things or work on projects.
For example, if you have a home office in a 10 foot by 10 foot room, you would enter 100 sq ft here.
Percentage of available square feet in your residence will be used in the operation of your business:
This number is automatically calculated based on the square footage values you entered in the previous 2 questions. You don’t need to do anything.
Will the operation of your proposed business require any architectural or structural modifications to your residence?
Answer yes or no.
If you answer yes, the system asks for your building permit number.
You can look up a building permit number using DCRA’s eRecords service.
Will the business involve any visits to the premises by clients, non-resident employees, delivery persons, etc?
Answer yes or no.
If you say yes, the system asks you to confirm that you won’t have more than 8 visitors per day, and that you won’t have more than 8 visitors in any one hour period.
You must also certify that you have obtained the property owner’s agreement to file an HOP application for a business that has clients or other non-residents visiting the premises.
If you’re the property owner, you don’t need to do anything extra here, just click “Yes“.
If you rent your home, you should check with your landlord before filing.
Proposed Hours of Operation
Click the button to Add a Row. Then use dropdowns in the popup window to create a time frame.
You can enter individual days, or a range like Monday to Friday. Then select the times your business is open.
For example: Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm. Or Sunday to Saturday, 10:00am to 2:00pm.
Click Submit in the window to close the popup.
When you have added all the hours of operation timeframes, click Continue Application.
Eligible Forms of Supporting Documentation
The DCRA requires you to upload certain documents so they can verify the information in your HOP application. You will upload proof of residency documents, as well as documents related to your LLC’s registration and any industry-specific permits for your business.
All HOP applications must have proof of residency. You must upload:
- A District of Columbia-issued identification card (such as Driver’s License)
- and a PEPCO electric utility bill or Washington Gas utility bill.
If you’re applying for an HOP for your LLC, you must upload:
- Articles of Organization
- Letter of Good Standing (you can request one via CorpOnline for $50)
Note: The HOP application requires a Listing of Corporate Officers. Because the District of Columbia LLC Articles of Organization list the Members (or Managers, if your LLC is Manager-managed), you don’t need to upload anything additional for this.
If you rent your residence, you must upload an Owner Consent Form signed by your landlord. If you live in a large apartment complex, this can be signed by a property manager.
After you upload all the required documents, you can review all the information you entered in the HOP application. Check everything carefully and make any changes if needed.
Enter your credit or debit card information to pay the $72.60 fee.
Once you’ve paid the fee, wait for the DCRA to approve your Home Occupation Permit. They will review your application and the supporting documents. The DCRA might contact you to set up an inspection, if it’s required.
Home Occupation Permit Approval
It usually takes 1-2 weeks for the DCRA to approve your Home Occupation Permit application. If they have to schedule an inspection of your home, this could take longer.
Once the HOP is approved, you will get an email with the permit attached as a PDF. Print the final, approved Home Occupation Permit and keep a copy with your business records.
Permit Center Contact Information:
If you have any questions about the Home Occupation Permit process, you can call the Permit Center at 202-442-4589.
Lodging or Bed & Breakfast
If your home-based business will be a Bed & Breakfast or offer lodging, you must order a Plat Map (aka a “Building Plat”) from the DC Surveyor’s Office.
They have drafters which will prepare your Building Plat after you pay for it.
The Building Plat they draw for you should show all existing structures as well as parking spaces for the owner and their guests.
You can find information on Building Plats here:
- DCRA: Get a Building Plat
- Order a building plat online via the DCRA Citizen Portal
- Order in person at 1100 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. The Surveyor’s Office is on the 3rd floor.
Look at your deed:
You will need to look at your deed in order to find your property’s square footage and lot number(s).
How long does it take?
After you place an order for a Plat it will take the drafter between 1 to 5 business days to finish the drawing. You can pay more to expedite the process.
Building Plat fee:
- $55 for regular pickup (3-5 business days)
- $82.50 for expedited pickup (next business day)
If you’re ordering online, you’ll make payment with a debit or credit card. If you’re ordering in person, you can make payment with a debit or credit card, cash, check, or money order. If you’re paying with a check or money order, please make it payable to the “DC Treasurer”.
Once your Plat is ready:
The DC Surveyor’s Office will notify you and then you’ll need to visit their office to pick up your Building Plat. Alternatively, if you have CAD software and can print your own plans, you can also request to have your plans emailed to you instead (see the Request form above). You can upload the file in your HOP application without printing it.
When you apply for your Home Occupation Permit:
If you apply online, you will upload the Plat.
Surveyor’s Office Contact Information:
If you have any questions about your Building Plat, you can call the DC Surveyor’s Office at 202-442-4566. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:15pm, except on Thursdays; when their hours are 9:30am to 4:15pm.
Child Development Homes
If your home-based business will be a Child Development Home, you must:
- Create an emergency evacuation plan that shows all exits.
- Schedule a fire inspection (this is mandatory) with the DC Fire Marshal. The fire inspection costs $150. You can schedule your inspection online and pay with a debit or credit card. After you submit the request, someone from the DC Fire Marshal’s office will call you (usually within 1 week) to set up a date and time for the inspection.
When you apply for your HOP online, you will upload the emergency evaluation plan and your fire inspection approval letter.
DC Fire Marshal Contact Information:
If you have any questions about the above, you can call the DC Fire Marshal at 202-442-4532. Their hours are Monday through Friday from 8:15am to 4:45pm.
What if my Home Occupation Permit is denied?
If your Home Occupation Permit is denied, the Zoning Administrator will send you a letter explaining why.
From that point, you can either change things in the home to become compliant (if applicable and mentioned in your denial letter) or you’ll need to rent an office/commercial space to carry out your business activities.
No Renewals Needed for a Home Occupation Permit
Home Occupation Permits are valid forever. There are no renewal filings or renewal fees.
However, if either of the following are true, then you will need to get a new Home Occupation Permit:
- You move to a new location in DC
- You change your occupation/business
Next Step: Basic Business License
After you get your Home Occupation Permit, you can then proceed to the next lesson: DC LLC Basic Business License.
Contact Info: Office of the Zoning Administrator
If you have any questions about your LLC’s Home Occupation Permit and inspections, you can contact the Office of the Zoning Administrator at 202-442-4576. Their office hours are 8:30am to 4:30pm, Monday through Friday, except on Thursdays, when their hours are 9:30am to 4:30pm.
Note: The “Permit Center” is a part of the Office of the Zoning Administrator. Their direct phone number is 202-442-4589.
DCRA: Surveyor Fees
DCRA: Get a Building Plat
DCRA: Ordering Building Plats Online
DC Business Center: Fire Marshall Inspection
DC.gov: Title 11 Chapter 1 – The Zoning Regulations
DCRA: Home Occupation Permit Application Checklist
DC Business Center: What is considered a “home occupation?”
DC Business Center: Where do I go to get a Home Occupation Permit?
DC Business Center: Certificate of Occupancy/Home Occupation Permit
DC Business Center: What is the purpose of a Home Occupation Permit?