Apply For A Business License Washington DC, District of Columbia

Am I required to obtain a business license in Washington D.C.?

Yes, all potential business owners must, by law, apply for and obtain a business license prior to business commencement if they are located in the Washington D.C. area. Monetary penalties for not gaining a business license before starting business are more than the standard business license application fees and renewal fees. For those businesses that will not have a specialized profession such as attorneys or physicians, the business license is called the Basic Business License or General Business License. These terms are used interchangeably by the municipal government. There is an annual fee for the Basic Business License and is assessed twice a year. You may visit Washington D.C. Basic Business License webpage. There is an application fee with an activity fee that is also due at the time of application submittal. Furthermore, there is a 10% technology fee also applies. For a list of specialized professions and their licenses, visit Washington D.C. Professions page.

Where am I able to apply for my Washington D.C. business license?

You may apply for and renew your General Business License directly online with the Washington D.C. municipal body. Or, if it is your preference, you may go to the office in person at:

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1100 4th Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20024

Lastly, you may also call (202) 442-4400 and request that an application be faxed or mailed to you.

What information should I gather to apply for my Washington D.C. business license application?

You should gather the following information for your application:

  • Language preferred
  • Business type: sole proprietor, partnership, limited liability corporation, for profit corporation, or a non-profit corporation.
  • Business owner
  • Federal Employee ID Number
  • Social Security Number of business wwner and property owner
  • Trade name
  • Number of employees
  • Business address
  • Officers, partners, and members names, addresses, and contact phone numbers
  • Business location
  • If weights and measures will be utilized for your business, contact the Office of Weights and Measures at (202) 698-2130
  • Signatures of business owner(s), partner(s), member(s) and property owner(s) and dates

What other information should I be aware of?

It is important to have the knowledge that before you are able to complete and file your business license application you must first complete and file a Certificate of Occupancy with Zoning Compliance (202) 727-6311. After approval, you must file with the District of Columbia (only limited partnerships, corporations, and limited liability companies). Contact the Corporate Division at (202) 442-4432 to learn more. Next, you will need to register for tax purposes with the Office of Tax and Revenue (202) 727-4829. Lastly, (before completing your application that is), you will need to certify that you do not have $100 or more due to the District from penalties, fees, taxes, or interest. This is done by completing the Clean Hands Form at the Office of Tax and Revenue. You are now ready to begin!

What if I have further questions?

It is advisable to visit Washington D.C. business license home page as the instructions are written in a step-by-step format of all of the requirements necessary to receive your General Business License. If you prefer to speak with a live representative you may call (202) 442-4400 for assistance. If you would like to go to the office in person, go to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
1100 4th Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20024.

It should be noted that the hours of operation are Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:30am to 4:30pm, except for Thursdays 9:30am to 4:30pm.

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This site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial or tax advise. The information on this site should not be relied upon as an official source of information and should be independently verified.


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