An Illinois business license gives your Limited Liability Company (LLC) permission to operate in a certain location or within a specific industry.
We can’t walk you through any applicable license applications step-by-step, because every business is unique. But we do provide helpful resources like:
- information about state licensing rules
- instructions for researching municipal licenses
And if you want to just hire a company to do the research for you, we have a recommendation below.
Illinois Business License Requirements
After you form an Illinois LLC, you may need to obtain a business license or permit.
Your requirements are determined by the industry you are in and where your Illinois Limited Liability Company is located.
Because of the large number of industries and all of the municipalities in Illinois, it’s not possible for us to explain them all. However, you can use the search tools below, call your local municipality, or hire a company for help.
Need to save time? We recommend hiring MyCompanyWorks (for $99) to handle the business license research for you.
How to get a Business License in Illinois
You can obtain a business license in Illinois by applying with the relevant licensing or regulatory agency. The agency you apply with will depend on where your business is located and what business activities it engages in.
The business license application typically requires basic information, such as your LLC name, EIN Number, business address, and contact information. Many also include a questionnaire that asks about your business activity.
There are three main licensing jurisdictions:
- State licensing
- Local licensing, such as county, city, township, etc.
- Federal licensing
Does Illinois Require a Business License?
That depends on where your business is located, and what it does.
There are two types of state-level business licenses:
- a general business license
- and an occupational license
Illinois General Business License
Some states have a general license requirement, which means all businesses operating in those states must have the license, regardless of what they do.
Although Illinois doesn’t have a general business license requirement, you do have to register with the Department of Revenue. But the good news is that this Registration is free for most businesses.
You will receive a Certificate of Registration (or a License, if your business needs special tax licenses) and a taxpayer ID. The Certificate of Registration and taxpayer ID are required to do business in the state, and the Illinois taxpayer ID is different from your LLC’s federal EIN number.
Illinois Department of Revenue Registration
Every business operating in Illinois must have a Certificate of Registration and a taxpayer ID.
The Illinois Department of Revenue: Business Registration page will guide you through the process.
You can register your LLC online through MyTaxIllinois or by filing Form REG-1 by mail.
Note: When you begin the online registration process, the Organization Type dropdown might be confusing. Here’s what the options mean:
- “LLC – Corporation”
- This means an LLC taxed as a C-corporation. This is very uncommon.
- “LLC – Partnership”
- This means a Multi-Member LLC. By default a Multi-Member LLC is taxed as a Partnership.
- “LLC – S-Corporation”
- This means an LLC taxed as an S-Corporation. This is uncommon.
- “LLC – Single Member”
- This means a Single-Member LLC.
Besides the Illinois Certificate of Registration (which acts as a general business license), your LLC might also need to register for industry specific taxes. The Department of Revenue Business Registration Forms page contains all the related forms.
There is no registration fee to get the Certificate and taxpayer ID. If your LLC needs additional, industry-specific tax licenses there may be fees associated with those applications.
If you have questions about this process, you can contact the Department of Revenue. Call 217-785-3707 for General Business Registration questions.
Illinois Occupational License
Most states have occupational business license requirements. This means a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does or what your occupation is. For example, if you sell used cars, or run a hair salon, you may need an occupational business license. But a license may not be required for other types of businesses.
The Registrations, Licenses and Permits page can help you determine if your Illinois business needs an occupational license or permit, and which agency to contact about applying for the license.
You can look through this list of professions that are regulated by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Click on the relevant profession to see if your industry or occupation needs a business license in Illinois.
You can also contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation with questions.
Note: Illinois business licenses are not issued by the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is responsible for business entity administration, for example Limited Liability Company formation.
How much is an Illinois Business License?
Illinois doesn’t have a general business license at the state level, so there are no fees there. However, you must register your LLC with the Department of Revenue. This Business Registration is free.
However, your business may need a state-level occupational license or municipal-level license or permit to operate. The filing fee for these licenses will vary depending on where you’re doing business and what industry you’re in. To be honest, we can’t predict your specific Illinois business license cost.
For example, licenses issued by a county that contains a large city are usually more expensive than licenses in less populated, rural counties. And licenses for regulated industries, like child care facilities, are usually more expensive than generic business licenses.
But your LLC might not need a license or permit at all. So your Illinois business license cost could be $0.
See LLC Cost in Illinois to learn about all the possible LLC fees.
Municipal Business License
Municipal business licenses can be issued by the city, town, county, parish, township, borough, etc. We refer to all of these as a “municipality” to keep things simple.
There are two types of municipal business licenses:
- general business license
- industry-specific license
For example, if a municipality has a general business license requirement, all businesses operating in that municipality must have the license, regardless of what they do.
And if a municipality has industry-specific business licenses, a license or permit may be required depending on what your business does. For example, if you operate a food truck, or run a daycare, you may need an industry-specific municipal business license. Or if you’re purchasing or leasing real estate, you may need a zoning permit.
But a license may not be required for other types of businesses, like making wedding invitation templates or offering marketing consulting.
You can contact your municipality to check on their local licensing requirements:
- Illinois Association of County Board Members: List of Counties
- Illinois Association of County Clerks and Records: List of Counties
- Township Officials of Illinois: Links to Illinois Township Websites (this list may be incomplete)
Illinois Sales Tax License
If you sell products to consumers in Illinois, you may need to collect sales tax and file a Sales and Use Tax Return.
If your business activities are subject to sales and use tax, your LLC must register with the Department of Revenue for a sales tax license. (That’s in addition to the required Certificate of Registration and taxpayer ID.)
Note: This requirement will apply whether you sell products online or in a physical location in Illinois. The sales tax laws apply to retailers in Illinois, out-of-state sellers with physical presence in Illinois, and remote retailers.
Your LLC registers for a Sales Tax License when you file the Business Registration with the Department of Revenue. As discussed above, you can register your LLC online through MyTaxIllinois or by filing Form REG-1 by mail. Information about Sales Tax is included in the application.
For additional information about the Sales Tax in Illinois, check out the Department of Revenue’s Sales & Use Taxes page.
Tip: Save time by hiring an expert. We recommend using TaxJar. They'll help you register for, collect, and pay sales tax.
Do I need any federal business licenses?
Most businesses in Illinois don’t need a federal business license. However, certain industries do need federal licenses:
|If your business…
|Contact this agency about business licenses
|Transports animals, plants or biotechnology over state lines
|Department of Agriculture
|Imports or exports animal products, wildlife, or products derived from wildlife (including fish)
|Fish and Wildlife Service
|Fish and Wildlife Service
|Broadcasts on radio or TV
|Federal Communications Commission
|Makes alcohol and sells it at a retail store
|Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
|Makes or sells firearms, ammunition or explosives
|Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives
|Transports cargo by sea
|Federal Maritime Commission
|Transports goods or people by air
|Federal Aviation Administration
Check out the Small Business Administration’s Licenses and Permits page for a full list of industries with federal license requirements.
If your business isn’t one of these special cases, then the only federal requirements are that your LLC get an Illinois EIN Number (aka Federal Employer Identification Number) and that you file taxes.
Illinois Business License FAQs
How much does a business license cost in Illinois?
The required Department of Revenue Business Registration is free to file. You may have registration fees if your LLC needs industry-specific tax licenses, however.
If your business has to get an occupational license or municipal (city or county) permit, the fees are hard to predict. Depending on your LLC’s location, and what type of business or industry you’re in, the fee varies.
Unfortunately, we can’t say what your LLC’s business license costs would be, because it depends on several factors and the cost of Illinois licenses varies.
Is an LLC considered a business license?
No, an LLC is not a business license. They are two completely different things.
An LLC is a type of business structure created by filing a document with the state government.
And a business license is a document that gives a person, or a company, the right to transact business. It doesn’t create an LLC.
Does a Sole Proprietor need a business license in Illinois?
Sometimes a new business owner chooses to operate as a Sole Proprietorship in Illinois instead of an LLC.
Even if you’re just trying out a business idea as a Sole Proprietorship, you may still be subject to license requirements at the state and municipal levels. It just depends on what you will be doing, and where you will be operating your business.
Does the Illinois Secretary of State provide a business license?
No, the Illinois Secretary of State doesn’t handle licensing requirements. Instead, they manage business entity formation and registration. For example, depending on business entity type, business owners file different paperwork with the Secretary of State to create their business entity.
For more information, or to determine if there is an Illinois business license cost for your business, we recommend contacting the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Illinois Department of Revenue and/or your local government agency. For example, your local county or city government will have information about any local licenses.
How to start an LLC in Illinois
Here are the steps to starting an LLC in Illinois:
- Select a business name for your Illinois LLC
- Choose your Registered Agent
- File the LLC Articles of Organization with the state
- Complete and sign an LLC Operating Agreement
- Get a Tax ID Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Open an LLC bank account
- Check whether you need a business license or tax permits in Illinois
Illinois Department of Revenue: Business Taxes
Illinois.gov: Registrations, Licenses and Permits
Illinois Department of Revenue: Taxpayer Answer Center
Illinois Department of Revenue: Business Registration FAQ
Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation: FAQs
Illinois Dept. of Financial and Professional Regulation: Professions List
Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity: Business Startup Resources
Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity: Step by Step Guide to Starting a Business
Matt holds a Bachelor's Degree in business from Drexel University with a concentration in business law. He performs extensive research and analysis to convert state laws into simple instructions anyone can follow to form their LLC - all for free! Read more about Matt Horwitz and LLC University.