The Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection (DLCP) Business and Professional Licensing Administration Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) provides an effective path for potential and current entrepreneurs to gain valuable information through training and consultation services and grow their businesses.
The SBRC is a one-stop-shop concierge service where aspiring and existing business owners can become equipped with the step-by-step process of navigating the District’s regulatory process, providing business owners with information, guidelines, and support, thereby identifying opportunities to succeed in today’s business environment.
After over a decade of proven success, the SBRC has expanded its offerings supporting one common goal – to make starting a business in the District of Columbia easier.
Four Steps to Obtaining a Basic Business License
While the SBRC is available to assist you in registering and licensing your business, we also understand that some aspiring business owners want to work at their own pace and independently. To assist you, we are providing the four basic steps to obtaining a business license in the District of Columbia.
The following steps need to be completed before submitting a Basic Business License (BBL) application.
Step 1: Registration
- Corporate Registration – if operating as a corporate entity (corporation, limited liability company, or partnership).
- Trade Name Registration – if planning to use a fictitious or shortened version of the corporate name when conducting business.
- Visit CorpOnline to complete registration.
Step 2: Registration with the Internal Revenue Service and DC Office of Tax and Revenue
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Apply online for Employer Identification Number (EIN), in person at 77 K Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002, or via telephone at (202) 803-9000.
- DC Office of Tax (OTR): Register EIN with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue. For more information, visit 1101 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024 or call (202) 727-4TAX.
- Clean Hands Certification: During the tax registration process, you will be required to verify that you do not owe more than $100 to the Government of the District of Columbia.
Step 3: Registration with the Office of the Zoning Administrator (Skip this step if business address is outside of the District)
- Expedited Home Occupation Permit (eHOP): If conducting business out of a home in the District, you may be eligible to obtain an Expedited Home Occupation Permit when you apply for a Basic Business License via My DC Business Center.
- Home Occupation Permit (HOP): If conducting business out of a home in the District, apply for a Home Occupation Permit.
- Certificate of Occupancy (COO): If operating out of an office location in the District, apply for a Certificate of Occupancy.
Step 4: Submit a Basic Business License (BBL)
- You will be prompted to remit required documents and associated payment.
- Your business activity will determine the applicable Basic Business License type.
- Additional steps may be required for full compliance.
- Visit My DC Business Center to apply.
Additional Resources to Assist Customers
- Navigating registration of legal and corporate entities and business licensing
- Understanding business lifecycle roadmaps
- Accessing DLCP products and services more efficiently
- Using District-wide partnerships to leverage training and counseling opportunities
- Obtaining business development information
Contact the SBRC: