The Ins & Outs of Licensing & Registering Your Business in DC

December 14, 2012

The process of obtaining licenses and registrations can be streamlined if you know what you need and where to find it. The WDCEP hosted their second DoingBusiness2.0 speaker series on Wednesday, December 12th, focusing on how to navigate the process of obtaining a business license and registration in the District.

Nicholas Majett, Director of the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) opened the panel by giving an overview of the resources available at DCRA and the step-by-step process of obtaining a business license and registration. All businesses operating in DC are required to be registered or licensed by DCRA. In addition to licensing businesses, the DCRA issues permits and recognizes business ownership types. The Business and Professional Licensing Administration is responsible for issuing business licenses while the Permit Center distributes occupation and construction permits. Both centers provide technical assistance and the option to complete the process on-site.

Visit the DCRA’s website for the following small business resources:
• Registration forms and documents
• Answers to frequently asked questions
• A business name availability tool
• A registered organization search

To assist small business owners with the regulatory process, the DCRA in partnership with DSLBD launched the Small Business Resource Center (SBRC) over a year ago to provide District-based small businesses with training, consulting, and technical assistance. Services offered include one-on-one technical assistance; pro-bono legal services; workshops on starting, managing, financing and growing a business; and assistance navigating regulatory issues. For more information, visit the DC SBRC website or contact SBRC Coordinator, Jacqueline Noisette at

Karen Jackson, Licensing Specialist at the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) gave an overview of ABRA and the process of obtaining licenses to serve or sell alcoholic beverages in the District. In addition to the issuing of ABC licenses, ABRA monitors compliance with the law and regulations and takes appropriate enforcement action when a business violates DC alcoholic beverage law. Ms Jackson discussed the various classes of ABC licenses, as well as requirements that should be met before a business owner can submit their application. For more information, please visit ABRA’s website and consult with an ABRA representative.

Lastly, Michelle Hoffman, Founder of Hoffman CFO Consulting, discussed her experience deciding to start her own business and the process of going through the business licensing and registration process in the District.

For more detailed information on the business licensing and registration process, view Chapter 2 of the DC Doing Business Guide: Business Registration & Licensing.

Posted Under: DC News