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Licenses & Permits

The District of Columbia regulates business activities and land use in order to protect the economic interests, safety, and property of businesses, residents, and visitors. District of Columbia agencies are empowered by the DC Code to create regulations for District business, and adhere to federal regulations. Below are agencies that create these regulations.

The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is the District of Columbia's regulatory agency. DCRA ensures the health, safety, and economic welfare of District residents through licensing, inspection, compliance, and enforcement programs. In addition, Department of Health (DOH) issues certain professional licenses, District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regulates public space, and Office of Zoning (DCOZ) controls land use.

Basic Business License
The Basic Business License (BBL) Program streamlines District of Columbia business licensing procedures. The BBL groups licenses by the type of business activity and regulatory approvals required. These are referred to as "endorsement categories." Businesses can determine whether they need a license, in addition to what fees and documents are required in order to obtain a BBL. For more information about the Basic Business License Program, call (202) 442-4400.

Corporate Registration
Corporations, partnerships, and limited liability companies (LLCs) operating in the District of Columbia have specific initial and ongoing filing requirements. The Corporations Division of the Business and Professional Licensing Administration (BPLA) of the DCRA registers foreign and domestic corporations, partnerships, and LLCs. Entities also file their annual or biannual reports (as applicable) with BPLA.

Trade Name Registration
The District of Columbia allows an entity to register and use a business name (trade name) different from its corporation, partnership, or company name. Similarly, an individual can register and use a trade name different from his or her true name. A trade name is not required if a business or individual operates using its true name. Trade names can be obtained separately or as part of the Basic Business License application.

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