Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

dlcp

dlcp

In observance of the Juneteenth holiday, DLCP will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, 2024. Please see our list of online resources should you need immediate assistance. We will resume normal operations on Thursday, June 20, 2024.

Temporary Fireworks Stand Permits Available Until June 28. Click here to apply and learn more.

Business Licensing FAQs

I want to apply for a Basic Business License. What are the requirements?
Each licensing group/category has different document, inspection and/or investigation requirements. However, there are five basic requirements for ALL licensed business activities which must be satisfied prior to submitting a Basic Business License application:

  • You must have a valid Federal Employee Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (SSN);
  • You must register your tax number with the Office of Tax and Revenue;
  • If your business operates from a location in Washington, DC, you must have a Certificate of Occupancy for a commercial premise address or a Home Occupation Permit if you work out of your home;
  • You may not owe more than $100.00 to the DC government. You will attest to having Clean Hands Certification via the DC Business Center during the application process; and
  • If you are a corporation, partnership or limited liability company (domestic or foreign), you must be registered and in good standing with the Corporations Division. You must also have a Registered Agent.
How do I apply for a Basic Business License (BBL)?
Online.
You may apply for a BBL and pay with a major credit/debit card at My DC Business Center. Some categories are available for immediate printing.
 
In-Person.
You may visit the DLCP Business License Center, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024, where you will be directed to one of our kiosks to apply for a Basic Business License via the DC Business Center. You may pay with a major credit/debit card. No appointments are required.
 

How do I obtain a copy of my Business License?
The owner of or the agent on record for a Basic Business License may submit a Basic Business License (BBL) Duplicate Request for a fee of $6.60 per license. Please do not apply for a duplicate license if your new or renewal license application was approved within the past 60 days. If you were issued a Basic Business License online, you may log into your existing via My DC Business Center account to download a duplicate at any time free of charge.

How do I learn if a company has a Basic Business License (BBL)?
All Basic Business License (BBL) and associated public license information can be verified via SCOUT. Also, a BBL can be verified by calling the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311.

My Basic Business License (BBL) will expire soon. What should I do?
A Basic Business License is eligible for renewal seventy-five (75) days prior to a license's expiration. If your license is eligible for renewal, you may RENEW ONLINE at My DC Business Center. If you do not already have an existing account, you must first create a My DC Business Center account. In order to renew, you will need the following information:
  • Basic Business License Number
  • Last four (4) digits of the tax number associated with your license

Learn more about BBL Renewal.

My license has expired. What do I do?
If your Basic Business License is still eligible for renewal, you may renew via My DC Business Center. You will need the following information:

  • Basic Business License Number
  • Last four (4) digits of the tax number associated with your license

If a Basic Business License (BBL) is not renewed within six (6) months from the date of expiration, it is not eligible for renewal. A new application along with supporting documentation must be submitted if you wish to continue to conduct a given business activity in the District. Late fees and penalties are applicable. If your license has expired for six (6) months from the date of expiration, or more, please contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, for a renewal assessment.

All Basic Business Licenses comply with the following Late Fee & Penalty Schedule:

Late and Penalty Fee Schedule.jpg

When will I incur late fees?
Late fees are incurred after a license has expired. A $250.00 late fee is applicable the day following the expiration date. The maximum late fee of $500.00 is applicable 31 days after the expiration date.

Though late fees do not continue to accrue after the maximum $500.00 late fee has been assessed, penalty fees do continue to accrue for every 2-year period a license is not maintained. If you will cease the licensed business activity in the District, please submit a Business License Cancellation request.

How often are Basic Business Licenses renewed?
All Basic Business Licenses (BBLs) are valid for two (2) or four (4) years unless otherwise specified.

I have several businesses; can I apply for just one license?
No. If you are conducting the same business activity, but from different locations in the District of Columbia, a Basic Business License (BBL) is required for each location. Additionally, if multiple business activities are being conducted as the same location, a BBL may be required for each business activity if they are distinct in nature.

What is the difference between a General Business License and a Basic Business License?
A General Business License is a type of Basic Business License. Typically, a General Business license is issued to such businesses as retail stores, online retail stores, consultants, tutors, tax preparers (no CPAs), and a number of other businesses, that do not fall under an existing licensing category or which are not regulated by an existing national or local board or commission.

I already have a Basic Business License; do I also need to apply for a General Business License?
If you already have a current Basic Business License (BBL) specific to the activities of your business, it is unlikely that additional licensure is required. However, it is recommended that you contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024, to determine if additional licensure is required.

I sent in all the information required for my Basic Business License application and received a Deficiency Notice. What does this mean?
If you received a Deficiency Notice in response to your application, it means that the requirements for the category of licensure you applied for were not met. The Deficiency Notice indicates what requirements are outstanding and what actions you need to take in order for your application to be processed.

I already have a Certificate of Authority to operate a business in the District of Columbia; why do I need another license?
If you have already registered your business, the District of Columbia Government acknowledges your organization's intent to operate in the District. In some cases, a business activity requires additional regulation by another District of Columbia Government agency or another division within DLCP To learn if your organization requires a Basic Business License, contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I have clients in the District, but I don't have an office there. Do I still need to apply for a Basic Business License (BBL)?
If you are conducting business to or from the District, a Basic Business License may be required depending upon the business activity being conducted. Please review the directory to locate the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted, to determine the requirements for licensure. You may contact the Business Licensing Division at (202) 442-4311 to describe your business activity to learn if a license is required.

I am a sub-contractor and am only here for one contract; do I need to get a Basic Business License (BBL)?
Yes, you are required to obtain a Basic Business License (BBL) (i.e., General Contractor/Construction Manager, Home Improvement Contractor or Home Improvement Salesperson); the licensure of the contractor for whom you are working is not valid for your contracting business.

To learn which category of licensure is required, contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I do freelance work on the side of my regular job; do I need a Basic Business License (BBL)?
Whether or not a person/company requires a Basic Business License depends on the business activity conducted in the District.

Please review the directory to locate the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted, to determine the requirements for licensure. You may contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, to learn if a license is required.

I want to rent my single-family home in the District; do I need a license?
Yes, you are required to obtain a Basic Business License for the One Family Rental category.

Is a Basic Business License required for an owner seeking to sell his or her own property?
No, a Basic Business License (BBL) is not required for an owner to sell his or her own property. However, if a real estate broker, etc., assists in the sale of the property, the broker is required to be licensed through the Occupational and Professional Licensing Division, (202) 442-4320, 1100 4th Street, SW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

I'm a consultant, not a business. I file my earnings on my personal tax forms, but I was told I still need a Basic Business License (BBL). Why?
You need a Basic Business License (BBL) under the General Business category, if you are receiving revenue for the services you provide as a consultant.

What kind of license do I need?
What kind of license you need depends on the business activity conducted in the District.

Contact the Business Licensing Division, (202) 442-4311, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024 to learn what kind of license you need. You may also review the BBL directory to determine the applicable business category, based on the primary business activity conducted in the District.

How do I pay for my Basic Business License (BBL)?
You can pay for your Basic Business License (BBL) with a credit/debit card via My DC Business Center.

How much will my Basic Business License (BBL) cost?
Basic Business License (BBL) fees vary according to the business activity. The BBL fee includes an application, endorsement, license category and a 10% technology fee. See BBL Directory.

How do I apply for a refund from the Business Licensing Division?
You may submit a Basic Business License Refund Request. Please note that the application fee and associated technology fee are non-refundable.