A business license is the key to business operations but in some states it is mandatory and in some it is not. The question is – do you need a permit or a license to operate in the District of Columbia? Yes, it is one of the minimum requirements.
Every business entity registered in the state needs to acquire a “Basic Business License (BBL)” to operate in the state. This said, businesses licensed by a certification board or body or licensed professionals will not be required to have a Basic Business License.
What is a BBL?
BBL or a Basic Business License in District of Columbia is issued by the Business Licensing Division of Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). It is a pre-requisite for businesses involved in specific activities such as operating a cafe or restaurant, consulting firms, retail or convenience stores, and home improvement business among others.
In order to get a Basic Business License for a specific business activity, you will be required to submit the BBL EZ-Form along with supporting documentation depending on the category of licensure for which you may be applying
How to Get a Business License in District of Columbia
Here is a step-by-step approach towards acquiring a business license in the District of Columbia:
Step#1: Business Activity
One of the most important aspects of a Basic Business Licensing (BBL) is that it is issued for specific business activities. Let’s take a look at the categories that qualify for this type of District of Columbia company license.
There are several sub-categories of business activities for which an entertainment business license is required in DC and they are:
- Athletic Exhibition License
- Special Event License
- Billiard Parlor License
- Carnival or Street Festival License
- Moving Picture Theatre License
- Circus License
- Live Theatre License
- Game Table License
- Mechanical Amusement Machine License
- Public Hall License
- Bowling Alley License
- Skating Rink License
Now, if your business activity involves gaming activity like billiard or pool tables, any board or table games, or even a bowling alley then you will have to apply for a Game Table Business License or a Billiard Parlor License or both.
Fee – Game Table License
- License Duration: Two (2) Years
- Application Fee: $70.00
- Category License Fee: $102.00 per table
- 10% Technology Fee: $19.70
- Endorsement Fee: $25.00
- Total Fee: $216.70 (Varies per number of tables)
Fee – Billiard Parlor License
- License Duration: Two (2) Years
- Category License Fee: $102.00 per unit
- Application Fee: $70.00
- Endorsement Fee: $25.00
- 10% Technology Fee: $19.70 (Varies per number of units)
- Total Fee: $216.70 (Varies per number of units)
You can apply by submitting the Basic Business Licensing (BBL) Form or you can submit the licensing details ONLINE.
The other categories of District of Columbia company license for which a Basic Business License (BBL) is issued include:
- Employment Services License Information
- Environmental Materials License Information
- Funeral Establishment License Information
- General Business and Charitable Solicitation License Information
- General Sales License Information
- General Service and Repair License Information
- Inspected Sales and Services License Information
- Manufacturing License Information
- Mobile Food Truck Licensing Information
- Motor Vehicle Service, Sales and Repair License Information
- Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical License Information
- Public Accommodations License Information
- Residential Housing Rental License Information
- Retail Food License Information
- Transient Housing License Information
- Vending License
Step#2: Licenses not covered under BBL
It is important to know that a business license in District of Columbia is not always issued by Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA). There are specific business activities for which licenses or permits are issued by other government or regulatory bodies. Let’s look at an example to understand this:
Opening a Restaurant
If you were to establish a restaurant that not only serves food but liquor as well then what would you require – A single license like BBL or multiple licenses or permit?
In order to serve food in your Restaurant, you will have to apply for a BBL – Retail Food business license.
Application: BBL License
In order to serve liquor in your Restaurant, you will have to apply for either of the following licenses:
- Retailer (A) (B) (C) or (D)
- The retailer (C) and (D) categories are broken down into classes by type of establishment:
X: A club or a multipurpose facility
Application: ABC License
Step#3: Issuance of a Business License
A business license in District of Columbia will be issued by different state agencies and all you have to do is complete the following process:
- Identify the type of business activity
- Identify whether you need a BBL license or other license
- Submit through mail or apply online
It is important to note that a business license or permit will have to be renewed annually unless specific dates have been mentioned, to keep the business operational.
If you are planning to establish a startup company District of Columbia then you can choose from different types of business entities including Limited Liability Companies, C and S Corporations, Nonprofit Corporations, Professional Corporations, General Partnerships, Limited Partnerships, Benefit Corporations, Statutory Trusts, and General or Limited Cooperative Associations. It is home to one of the strongest economies in the nation with over $3.36 billion in capital investment forecasted over the years. It is a thriving marketplace for invention and innovation and is the favored headquarters for giants like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, The Advisory Board, Blackboard, CoStar, Hilton Worldwide, Fannie Mae, and the World Bank.
Salient Advantages leading to Business Growth
What makes District of Columbia a great state of small businesses and start-ups? The most important reason is that DC is the capital and supports a positive business climate. There are plenty of reasons to register a new company in District of Columbia and there are several drivers or catalyst that will aid in the overall growth of a business entity. It is also important that you identify the type of business that you want to establish as each entity type will have its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of these two business entities:
Advantage#1: The benefits of Incorporation or LLC formation
C or S Corporation
Tax Credit and Exemption Programs
If you register a new company in District of Columbia then you will be able to benefit from the variety of tax credit and exemption programs and this includes:
- Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs): The program has been implemented by the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE). As a part of the program, you can generate as well as sell Stormwater Retention Credits (SRCs) and earn revenue for those projects that help in reducing harmful stormwater runoff caused by installation of green infrastructure (GI). More Information
- Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Credit: If you register a new business in District of Columbia, you will be able to apply for a maximum credit of 50% of the allowable costs related to purchase and installation of alternative fuel storage stations. You derive credit of up to $10,000 on infrastructure and a maximum of $19,000 per vehicle.
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC): This is a Federal program and its objective is to help businesses in reducing their federal tax liability especially for private-for-profit entities. Application
When you register a new business in District of Columbia as an S Corporation, it will enjoy an independent life. This means that the incapacity or death of a stockholder will not have a negative impact on the business operations.
Limited Liability Company
Grants, Loans & Reimbursement
A startup company District of Columbia or even a small business will require financial support in the starting phase. The good news is that there are several loan, reimbursement, and grants program that an LLC can benefit from:
- Anacostia Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) Program: This is a community development program and it contains the “Façade Improvement Program” that helps in facilitating a Storefront Facade Improvement Project in low or moderate income commercial or retail areas in Wards 7 & 8 of the DC area. This program is primarily for small businesses and you can get a grant assistance of almost 75% of the project cost. More Information
- The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund: This is an innovative federal agency within the Treasury Department and has in the recent past awarded $2.3 billion on a competitive basis to small and emerging CDFIs and financial institutions. It’s primary objective is to promote economic development through offering a variety of financial products. More Information
- On-the-Job (OJT) Training Program: A startup company District of Columbia can participate in this program and you can benefit from a reimbursement of 50 to 75% of eligible trainee’s wages for a maximum of 1040 hours. The program has been implemented by Department of Employment Services (DOES) and is aimed at small to mid-size companies as well as large companies with over 100 employees. More Information
Flexible Profit Distribution
A startup company District of Columbia LLC has the benefit of being able to select different ways of distribution of profits unlike a partnership where the distribution is 50-50.
Advantage#2: District of Columbia Business Incentives
Once you register a new company in District of Columbia, there are several business incentives and programs that your business entity can benefit from. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular programs:
DC Main Streets Program
This is a highly comprehensive program with an objective of promoting the revitalization of traditional business districts in the DC area. In order to participate in the program, you have to first register a new business in District of Columbia. Some of the accredited DC Main Streets programs include:
- Tenleytown Main Street
- Barracks Row Main Street (DSLBD-CBO)
- Eastern Market Main Street
- North Capitol Main Street
- Georgetown Main Street
- Deanwood Heights Main Streets (DSLBD-CBO)
As a part of the program, your business entity will require Free Small Business Technical Assistance. This assistance includes information regarding marketing and social media, questions on renovations, tenant recruitment, information on permits, and other services for business entities. Some of the programs within this program like ARCH Development Corporation (DSLBD-CBO) provide a maximum of 80% of the cost for eligible exterior improvements. More Information
Qualified High Tech Companies (QHTC) Program
This is a type of DC Tech incentive program where your startup company District of Columbia can claim a really attractive incentive package in the country. The benefits or incentives include reduced corporate franchise tax rate, lowered costs of hiring & training, reduced capital gains tax rates, and lower cost of relocating workers. You can enjoy the following:
- 0% corporate franchise tax for first 5 years followed by a rate is 6% only
- New hire wage tax credit of up to $15,000 annually
- Tax exemption for a period of 10-year from the date of acquisition of personal property being used for operating your business
- Relocation tax credit of up to $7,500
- A 5-year freeze period on real property taxes
There are several other benefits of this program as well! Application Docket
Are there any Disadvantages of Incorporating in District of Columbia?
What disadvantages could possibly be there for a start-up company District of Columbia? In reality there is none except a few that are common to different types of businesses like processing of incorporation can be time consuming and corporations would require more paperwork while LLC formation has the disadvantage of limited life. These are small disadvantages as compared to the many incentives DC has to offer.
District of Columbia being the capital of the United States of America, presents just the right platform and avenues to small and mid-sized businesses, and even micro-businesses to grow, expand, and reach out to a global audience. A diversified economy with a gross state product of $141 billion in the 2nd quarter of 2018, it is considered to be the 6th largest metropolitan economy in the nation. You can form a District of Columbia business in any of the major Industries in DC include technology, retail, tourism (it is now the 2nd largest industry), Federal government, media & communications, and higher education among others. In fact, DC is home to a strong concentration of global institutions as well as local representation of major companies.
A vibrant and resilient economy driven by private sector expansion wherein private sector GDP in Q2-2016 was $83.4 billion!
You are probably wondering what the process for LLC formation or incorporation is. This is where we can be of help! We as one of the top District of Columbia registered agents can assist you with the successful registration of your business entity in the state.
District of Columbia LLC Registration and Formation
LLC company formation in District of Columbia is governed by Code of the District of Columbia, Division V – Local Business Affairs, Title 29-Business Organizations, Chapter 8 – Limited Liability Companies. The procedure for formation of LLC is as follows:
Step#1: Maintain a registered agent
If you are planning to form a Limited Liability Company in District of Columbia then you will be required to continuously maintain a registered agent in the state pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29–104.04. This law is applicable for domestic limited liability company as well as foreign limited liability company.
We would take this opportunity to share with you the fact that we are one of the top registered agents in the state and have been responsible for over 11,494 businesses set up in District of Columbia. We can assist you to form a District of Columbia business LLC.
Step#2: LLC Name Reservation
One of the foremost steps towards company formation in District of Columbia is identifying a name for your business entity. The process is as follows:
- Identify a unique name for your business entity
- According to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.01 and § 29–103.02, the name should contain the phrase or words “limited liability Company” or the abbreviations “L.L.C.”, or “LLC”.
- The chosen name should be distinguishable and should not be deceptively similar to the name of any limited partnership, corporation, or limited liability company
- Apply for reservation of name pursuant to the provisions of District of Columbia Code § 29–103.03
- Submit the form though mail or online with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division along with the applicable fee. An LLC can reserve its name for a period of 120 days.
Step#3: Articles of Organization and Foreign Registration Statement
If you are planning to form a District of Columbia business LLC then the most important step is to prepare and file the proper documents for a Limited Liability Company. The steps are:
- If you want to register a domestic LLC then you will be required to file “Articles of Organization” governed by D.C. Code § 29–802.01.
- If your business entity is a foreign LLC then you will be required to file “Foreign Registration Statement” pursuant to D.C. Code § 29–105.03.
- The Articles of Organization and Foreign Registration Statement of domestic and foreign LLC can be filed with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division through mail or by hand.
We can file the form on your behalf being your registered agent in the state and provide you with certified copies of the LLC registration.
In case, you have any questions regarding how to form a District of Columbia business, feel free to call us on 702-871-8678.
District of Columbia Corporation Registration and Formation
If you are planning to form a Corporation in District of Columbia then the procedure for registration and formation is as follows:
Step#1: Maintain a Registered Agent
If you are planning to form a business or professional corporation in District of Columbia then you will be required to continuously maintain a registered agent in the state pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29–104.04. This law is applicable for domestic as well as foreign corporations.
We would take this opportunity to share with you the fact that we are one of the top registered agents in the state and have been responsible for over 11,494 businesses set up in District of Columbia. We can assist you to form a District of Columbia business as we are in compliance with all regulations in the State of District of Columbia.
Step#2: Corporate Name Reservation
In order to form a corporation in District of Columbia, one of the key steps is identifying a name for your business entity. The process is as follows:
- Identify a name for your business entity
- According to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.01 and § 29–103.02, a corporate name should contain the phrase or words “corporation”, “company”, “incorporated”, or the abbreviations “Corp.”, or “Inc.”
- The chosen name should be distinguishable and should not be deceptively similar to the name of any limited liability company, limited partnership, or any other corporation
- Apply for reservation of name pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.03.
- Submit the form though mail with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division along with the applicable fee. A business corporation can reserve its name for a period of 120 days.
Step#3: Articles of Incorporation and Foreign Registration Statement
If you are planning to form a corporation in District of Columbia, then the most important step is to prepare and file the proper documents for a business corporation. The steps are:
- If you want to register a domestic corporation then you will be required to file “Articles of Incorporation” pursuant to D.C. Code § 29–302.02.
- If your business entity is a foreign corporation then you will be required to file an “Foreign Registration Statement” to transact business in the state pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29-102.11.
- The application or documentation for registration of a corporation can be filed with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division – through mail or by hand.
We can file the form on your behalf being your registered agent in the state and provide you with certified copies of the incorporation.
If you have any questions regarding District of Columbia incorporation or LLC formation, you can simply visit the District of Columbia Business formation page.
A global city with a highly educated workforce, District of Columbia provides businesses with just the platform they require. Incorporation in District of Columbia means you will have access to global influencers and policymakers. There are a variety of DC industries that your business can be a part of like the hospitality industry, which is one of the strongest sectors. Data Science & Analytics, Retail, and Security Technology are also some of the top industries. One of the salient aspects of DC is the “smart city” initiative wherein it is ranked 6th smartest city in the World according to IESE Cities in Motion Index 2017. Economically, it is on the rise with the real gross domestic product (GDP) of the District of Columbia in 2017 crossing the $110 billion mark.
Home to Lockheed Martin, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and 18 other Fortune 500’s!
Why Choose District of Columbia for Incorporation?
If you are planning to set up company in District of Columbia then the good news is that it is the perfect platform for small businesses. In fact, the small business scene in D.C. area has everything right from sewing studio’s to fish-and-chips shop, prohibition-inspired gin distillery, and pie shop with music rehearsal studio, and many other innovative businesses.
Now let’s take a look at some of the salient benefits that are responsible for fuelling growth of small businesses:
Supermarket Tax Incentives
As a part of the Supermarket Tax Exemption Act of 2000, DC will waive fees and tax to retail and grocery stores located in specific neighborhoods. This is an incentive directed at encouraging investment and development in areas that lack access to fresh food and groceries. You can avail of the incentive post company incorporation in District of Columbia. A supermarket or retail store can receive the following benefits for a period of 10 years post renovation or development:
- Exemption in business license fee
- Exemption in real property tax
- Sales and use tax exemption especially on building materials used for construction
- Exemption in personal property tax
How do you incorporate in District of Columbia?
What is the process of incorporation in District of Columbia? What type of documentation is required? These are some of the common questions that you will be confronted with if you planning to start a new business in the state. The following steps will enable understanding of the entire process:
The first step towards company incorporation in District of Columbia is choosing the type of business you want to form. You can choose to form an LLC or a Corporation. The type of business entity you want to form can be domestic or foreign entity. The forms and fee will be different for each type of entity.
Business Entity Name
One of the most important steps towards incorporation in District of Columbia is naming your business entity. You have to start by identifying, searching, reserving, or registering the business entity name. There are 3 steps towards business name formation and they are:
- Naming Requirements: According to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.01 and § 29–103.02, the name of a business entity should contain words like “corporation”, “incorporated”, “limited liability company” or abbreviations like “corp.”, “inc.”, “ltd.”, “L.L.C.”, ”Ltd., ” or similar abbreviation.
- Business name search: You need to search for a business name that is not in use currently. You can conduct name availability search here.
- Name Reservation: Once you have identified business entity name, you will have to reserve the name pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.03 as a part of company incorporation in District of Columbia process. You can reserve the name for a period of 120 days with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, Corporations Division.
- Name Registration: According to District of Columbia Code § 29–103.04, a foreign business entity that is not registered to do business in the District under subchapter VI of this chapter will be required to register its name, or an alternate trade name as required by § 29-105.06. A foreign business entity will be required to submit the name registration application with the Mayor’s office.
Choose a Registered Agent
Whether you form a corporation or an LLC business entity, in order to transact business in the state of District of Columbia, you will have to maintain a registered agent pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29–104.04 (July 2, 2011, D.C. Law 18-378, § 2, 58 DCR 1720; Mar. 5, 2013, D.C. Law 19-210, § 2(a)(18), 59 DCR 13171).
We are one of the respected registered agents in Washington DC and will be responsible towards initiating incorporation in District of Columbia through processing of your Certificate of Formation and Application for Registration for LLC and Articles of Incorporation and Certificate of Authority for business corporations.
Articles of Incorporation and Foreign Registration Statement
You will be required to file “Articles of Incorporation” pursuant to D.C. Code § 29–302.02, if your business is a domestic corporation. You will have to file a “Foreign Registration Statement” pursuant to District of Columbia Code § 29-102.11, if it is a foreign business entity. In order to streamline the process of company incorporation in District of Columbia, we can file documents on your behalf through the online process or through expedited process.
Date Stamped Copies
As a part of the process of company incorporation in District of Columbia, we will ensure, you receive date-stamped and filed copies that verifies the state has filed as well as formed your corporation.
Costs and Fees associated with District of Columbia Incorporation
What would it cost to set up company in District of Columbia? Check Fees here!
Wisconsin is a paradise for start-ups as it offers several benefits and a wide variety of incentives. In order to set up a business and make it operational, you will need to
- Register your business first
- Ensure you have a proper business license
It is important to know that every Wisconsin start-up doesn’t require a business license, however certain businesses may require single or multiple licenses or permits. Some of these permits and licenses are regulatory in nature i.e., they cover specific business activity. The regulatory licenses and permits are issued by different state agencies while the tax-related licenses are issued by the Department of Revenue (DOR). There are business activity specific licenses and permits issued by divisions of the Department of Health Services and Department of Natural Resources.
The question is, how do you know what type of Wisconsin company license or permit you require and which state agency is responsible for issuing it.
Step-by-Step Guide to a Business License in Wisconsin
Here is a step-by-step approach towards acquiring a business license in the state of Wisconsin:
Step#1: The Industry or Business Type
How would you know what type of business or professional license is required to operate in Wisconsin? The type of industry or the activities of a business entity helps in identifying the type of business license required.
The license or permit can be obtained from various state agencies directly depending on the type of business you have. Let’s take a look at some examples to understand this better:
Food, Dairy & Restaurant Licenses
Issued by: State of Wisconsin, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
The Wisconsin company license that fall under this category varies according to the type of business activity. Let’s take a look at some of the different types of business activities and the license fee.
- Butter maker – Fee: $75 (2 years)
- Cheese maker – Fee: $75 (2 years)
Food Processing Plant License (Wholesale) – Fee: The business license fee varies based on the annual production like the fee for annual production of at least $250,000 is $835 and there is also a “License Surcharge” of $100. More Information
Food Retail License/ Retail Food Establishment – Fee: The business license fee varies based on total food sales like the fee for food sales of at least $25,000 but less than $1,000,000 is $265 and there is also a “License Surcharge” of $100. More Information
Alcohol Beverage License
License Issued by: State of Wisconsin, Department of Revenue
The retail business license allows sale of alcohol beverages to individual retail customers, from a specific place or premises. The alcohol beverage licenses can be classified as under:
- “Class A” liquor licenses
- “Class “A” fermented malt beverage licenses
- “Class A” (cider only) licenses
- “Class B” liquor licenses
- “Class C” wine licenses
- Temporary Class B licenses often known as picnic licenses
Fee: The fees for a business license in Wisconsin for alcoholic beverages are set by local municipalities, within the limits set by the state law. A Class “B” Beer retailer license has a fee of $100 per year while that of a Temporary Class “B” (beer) license is $10. There is also a “Reserve” Class B intoxicating liquor license where the minimum fee is $10,000.
Step#2: Licenses issued by City/County
If your business or industry type doesn’t fall under a statewide license then you will have to check with the local city or county office. A Wisconsin company license can also be issued by local counties or cities in which the business is located. Let’s look at an example to understand how this works.
If you are planning to establish your business in Madison & Dane County then you will have to apply for a business license through Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC). There following licenses or permits are issued in these counties:
- Bed & Breakfasts
- Short-term Rentals: Tourist Rooming Houses
- Restaurants and Retail Stores
- Farmers’ Markets
- Mobile Food Establishments
- Temporary Food Stands
- Tattoo & Body Piercing Licensing
- Water, Well & Septic Permits
You can check the fee for your business license in Wisconsin here.
Step#3: Issuance of a Business License
How is a business license in Wisconsin issued? You have to identify the following to complete the process:
- The type of business or industry
- Do you need a license or a permit?
- Will it be issued by the state or the city or county?
Once you have identified the above, all you need to do is either download the application online or contact the concerned state department or city of clerk office.
It is important to note that a business license or permit will have to be renewed annually unless specific dates have been mentioned, to keep the business operational.