Business Licenses

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Any business that includes food sales, service or storage requires a Food Establishment License. This license takes the place of the general business license described on this page.

Prior to applying for a business license applicant must have completed:

  1. Economic Development initial business consultation.
  2. Verified the Zoning of  the proposed business location.

Business License Application Process:

  1. Read the General Business License FAQ and also check out the Evanston Business Guide
  2. License applications can be downloaded at General Business License Application.
  3. Submit completed applications in person to the Economic Development Division Office, room 3600 or by email to


For additional information please contact:

Economic Development Division


General Business License FAQ's

Why do we have a business license?

The Evanston Business licenses serve many purposes, including:

 Providing valuable economic data about the City, which is used to foster the continued success and growth of Evanston businesses.

 Allows the City to identify types of businesses that are needed and would be successful in Evanston.

 Enables the City to ensure a safe working and shopping environment for employees and patrons alike through tracking of businesses and periodic Fire, Mechanical, Structural, Electrical and Plumbing inspections.

 Funds collected help to defray the cost of economic development programs such as parking structures and ensuring the roads are in good condition so that businesses are easily accessible.

 Which businesses are licensed?

All businesses that are not currently licensed under a State or Federal Law, are not home-based, and are operating for-profit within the City limits must have a license.

Each place of business must have its own license. The following business types must have a license to do business within the City regardless of where the physical headquarters of the business is located: Landscaping, pesticide and/or weed spraying, lawn fertilizing, pickup and delivery of laundry or dry cleaning at dwelling units, garbage or refuse pickup.

What are the regulations?

Liquor, cigarette and tobacco and alarm licenses do not constitute business licenses.

Licenses may be revoked for failure to comply with any City Ordinances, Federal or State Laws and failure to allow a required inspection.

A business operating without a license is subject to a $500 fine for each day the business operates without a license.

An Evanston Business License permits an individual or entity to engage in business activities for a profit within the City of Evanston, and is required to conduct such a business within city limits. The license must be renewed annually based on calendar year and must be displayed at the place of business. A "business" is defined under ordinance 135-O-99 as "Any individual or entity 'doing,' 'conducting,' 'engaging in,' 'maintaining,' 'operating,' 'carrying on' or 'managing' a business, occupation or activity.

 Where do I file for an assumed name (DBA)?

The Cook County Clerks Office accepts applications and issues DBA certificates. For more information contact: Assumed Business Names Unit at 312-603-5652

 Where do I apply for a Sales Tax Identification Number?

The Illinois Department of Revenue accepts applications for tax ID numbers.

 Where can I register my business as a corporation?

The Illinois Secretary of State processes applications for corporations and partnerships.