DC Doing Business Guide

Step 3: Making Your Business Legal

A. Corporate Registration – See Ch 2 Registration & Licensing

  • In order to operate legally in DC, all businesses must be registered with the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
  • Identify the most appropriate ownership structure of your business. See the chart on the following page for ownership structure comparison information.
  • Visit the DCRA office at 1100 4th Street, SW, or apply online at business.dc.gov.

B. Registration With The DC Office of Tax And Revenue – See Ch 4: Business Taxes

  • For-profit businesses must complete form FR 500 (Notice of Business Tax Registration).
  • Not-for-profit companies must complete forms FR 500 (Notice of Business Tax Registration) and FR 164 (Notice of Business Tax Registration).
  • Visit otr.cfo.dc.gov for more information.

C: Registration with The Zoning Administrator – See Ch 2 Registration & Licensing

  • If operating your business out of a physical location within the District that is not your home, you must ensure that the address is zoned for your specific type of business. Complete the Certificate of Occupancy if operating out of an office location in the District.
  • If operating a home-based business, complete the Home Occupation Permit. Complete this affidavit stating that you do not owe more than $100 to the DC government.

D: Clean Hands Certification – See Ch 2 Registration & Licensing

  • If you owe more than $100 to the DC government, you will need to resolve the outstanding debt before you can proceed.
  • Visit bit.ly/dcraCleanHands for more information.

E: Basic Business License Application (BBL) – See Ch 2 Registration & Licensing

  • Most retail and office operations will require a Basic Business License, but DCRA also issues specialized license categories for food establishments, industry, and specific services.
  • Visit business.dc.gov for more information about the 165+ censes to determine which one(s) may be necessary based on your business activities.