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200 N. LaSalle Street Suite 2150 Chicago, IL 60601

Overview of Chicago Liquor License Application Process


  • Complete a “Business Information Sheet”
  • Meet with a Business Consultant at the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection in City Hall
    • Be prepared to answer all questions about your proposed operation
    • The Business Consultant may also assist with obtaining building permits or any other city services needed
  • Complete a Written Application that is presented to the Department of Zoning
  • After obtaining approval from the Department of Zoning, file the application with the application fee with the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection in City Hall
  • Upon filing, the Business Consultant will provide a list of all documents required, schedule all required inspections, and prepare any required public notifications
  • All items need to be completed within 30 Days of the date the written application is filed
  • Inspections by the Departments of Health, Fire, and Buildings and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
  • Undergo Background check and spouses of owners need to submit a Spousal Affidavit
  • Notify the Public
  • Submit all remaining documents
  • Application review – A decision is issued 60 days after all documents are submitted to the city


Businesses holding a liquor license must report changes in ownership or corporate officers to the City within 30 days.
There is a different application process for each of these three types of ownership changes:

  • “Type I – Change of Officer Application”: Business is simply removing an officer and not seeking to replace the officer.
    • Submit a notarized letter to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection in City Hall
    • No application or fee required
  • “Type II – Change of Officer Application”: Business is removing an officer and seeking to replace that officer.
    • File a Type II Change of Officer Application
    • Include corporate minutes reflecting the change, an Individual History Form, and Photo ID for each new officer
    • Filing Fee applies
  • “Type III – Change of Officer Application”: Ownership of the business has changed.
    • File a Type III Change of Officer Application
    • Follow the steps required when applying for a new license
    • Filing Fee applies


  • Individual History Form for each individual owning 5% or more interest in the business
  • Photo Identification
  • Spousal Affidavit
  • Manager Statement
  • Lease to the Property
  • Financial Disclosure form
  • Certificate of Liquor Liability
  • Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training (BASSET) Certificate
  • Business Structure Documents
  • Site Plan of the Premises
  • Detailed Floor Plan of the Business
  • Purchase Agreement
  • Illinois Business Tax Number
  • Federal Employer Identification Number
  • Occupancy Placard
  • Packaged Goods Grocery Affidavit (if necessary)
  • Food Service Menu (if necessary)


  • Zoning

    Learn the zoning designation of your business location at

  • Restrictions & Dry Areas

    Your business cannot be located in an area where liquor sales are prohibited.

  • Liquor licenses are not permitted within 100 feet of a library, church, school, hospital or home for aging adults.

    Some precincts have been voted dry through a local referendum and do not permit the sale of any alcohol.

  • Moratorium Districts

    New liquor licenses will not be issued in areas that have been designated as a “Liquor Moratorium.” However, an existing liquor license may be transferred.

  • Inspections

    Passing inspections is a major component of the liquor license application process. Because they are so integral, the City offers monthly inspection workshops to help new business owners prepare. Checklists are also available on the City’s website.

  • Neighborhood Acceptance

    After the application is filed, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will mail a notice to the registered voters who live within 250 ft. of the business. The community is granted a “public comment period” in which they may object to the issuance of the liquor license.


The following is a list of fees associated with each type of liquor license in the City of Chicago. Each city/village has a different cost with the City of Chicago typically having the highest fess..

  • Tavern: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
  • Packaged Goods: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
  • Consumption on Premises – Incidental Activity: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
  • Club License (not-for-profit club): $1,100.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
  • Caterer’s License: $4,400.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee
  • Caterer’s Registration: $6,600.00
  • Outdoor Patio: $1,760.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee and
  • Late Hour License: $6,000.00 + $40.00 one time publication fee


Andrew Hays and his legal team at Hays Firm LLC in Chicago are knowledgeable liquor license attorneys who have a great deal of experience with assisting and guiding restaurant and bar owners through selecting the proper liquor license and throughout the entire application process. Please contact us to talk about how we can help.  

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