General Business License

In order to effectively protect the public health, general welfare, and safety of the citizens of Cook County, the County Board has determined that businesses operating in Unincorporated Cook County will be required to obtain a Cook County General Business License.

This new requirement will allow the County Government to ensure businesses operating in Unincorporated Cook County, are in compliance with public health and public safety standards, as well as with all other County ordinances. This will prevent illegal businesses from negatively influencing legitimate commerce and protect consumers from bad business practices.

Who has to apply:

Any person or business in unincorporated Cook County will need to obtain a GBL if:
*They maintain a fixed place of business.
*They own or lease real property.
*They regularly maintain a stock of tangible personal property in the ordinary course of business.

Who is exempt:

People or companies doing business in unincorporated Cook County will NOT be required to purchase
a general business license if:
* You’re already required to obtain a County business license in order to comply with any other County ordinance or regulation.
*You’re exempt under the terms of any Federal or State law or County ordinance.

Please be aware that the General Business License (GBL) renewal period begins on Feb 1, 2013. The license must be renewed by Feb 28, 2013 for all existing businesses and posted in the place of business by March 1, 2013.
The fee for the GBL is $40 and is valid for two (2) years. If the GBL is renewed after Feb 28, 2013 late fees will apply.
To begin the renewal process, please select from the options shown below.

Some users may experience difficulty registering using the online system. If you are unable to complete the application for any reason or if you have additional questions, please contact Richard Crusor at (312) 603-3634 or by email .

First Time Applicants

Please click on the link below if you:

  • have not registered with Cook County and are doing business in Unincorporated Cook County
  • are a business that is exempt from the General Business License ordinance and need to obtain a Certificate of Exemption

First Time Applicants

Returning Applicants

Please click on the link below if you:

  • already have registered with Cook County and need to apply for a General Business License
  • already have applied for a General Business License and need to review the status of your application, reprint your application or change your contact information

Returning Applicants


Cook County Ordinance Regarding General Business Licenses (PDF)

Supporting Information

Three Steps to Obtain a General Business License  (PDF)

General Business License – Online System Application User Guide (PDF)

General Business License – Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)