Start a Business Wizard

Welcome to the “Start a Business” wizard for prospective business owners in the District of Columbia! Based on your responses to questions, this wizard will produce a personalized checklist of the appropriate Basic Business Licenses and supporting documents required by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) to start your business. Your personalized checklist provides details on each step of the process and lists them in the order they must be completed.

The wizard focuses on the Basic Business Licenses most frequently issued by DCRA. NOT included in this wizard are:

  • Highly specialized Basic Business Licenses
  • Special Events and Vending Licenses
  • Licenses issued by agencies other than DCRA (such as DOH, DDOT, or ABRA)
  • Occupational and Professional Licenses (CPA, lawyer, doctor, plumber, etc.)
  • Permits of any kind

Our goal is to help aspiring entrepreneurs understand and comply with relevant DC Government business regulations. Please stay tuned for more - we will be featuring new releases and functionality in the coming weeks as we expand and enhance the DC Business Center to better serve you!

A complete list of the Basic Business Licenses NOT included in the wizard follows.

Specialized Basic Business Licenses NOT included in the wizard:

  • Amusement Park
  • Athletic Exhibition
  • Auction Sale
  • Automobile Repossessor
  • Automobile Repossessor - Business
  • Barber Chair
  • Beauty Booth
  • Beauty Shop Electrology
  • Beauty Shop Esthetics
  • Billiard Parlor
  • Bowling Alley
  • Bulk Fuel Above Ground Tank
  • Bulk Fuel Below Ground Tank
  • Bulk Fuel Metering
  • Bulk Fuel Storage Tank
  • Candy Manufacturing
  • Commission Merchant Food
  • Consumer Goods (Elect Repair)
  • Driving School
  • Elevators
  • Explosives (Retail)
  • Fireworks Sales
  • Fireworks Wholesale
  • Government (Issued to outside agencies)
  • Horse Drawn Carriage Trade
  • Ice Cream Manufacture
  • Kerosene
  • Marine Food Product Wholesale
  • Marine Food Retail
  • Mattress Manufacturer
  • Mattress Storage
  • Mobile Delicatessen
  • Motion Picture Theatre
  • Motor Vehicle Reinspection Station
  • Motor Vehicle Reinspector
  • Pesticide Dealer RSTD-SE
  • Pet Shop
  • Pyroxylin
  • Skating Rink
  • Solicitor
  • Solvent Sales
  • Temporary Licenses (All types)
  • Theater (Live)
  • Used Car Buyer/Seller
  • User Car Seller Only
  • Varsol Sales

To file an application for any of the specialized business licenses listed above, please visit the online application web page at or visit DCRA’s Small Business Resource Center at 1100 4th Street SW.

Other DCRA Licenses NOT included in the wizard:

Special Events

A License is required for special events such as a street fairs,parades, or marathon races.To arrange for a special event license,visit DCRA at 1100 4th Street SW.

Vending Licenses

  • Sidewalk Vending Carts and Vending Stands
  • Mobile Roadway Vending Vehicles
  • Stationary Roadway Vending Vehicles
  • Ice Cream Vending Vehicles
  • Public Market Vendors

To apply for a Vending License, visit DCRA at 1100 4th Street SW.

Occupational and Professional Licenses Issued by DCRA NOT included in the wizard:

The following professions must be licensed:

  • Certified Public Accountants
  • Appraisers
  • Architects
  • Asbestos Workers
  • Athlete Agents
  • Barbers
  • Boxers, Wrestlers, and Mixed Martial Artists
  • Cosmetologists
  • Electricians
  • Elevator Maintenance (Contractors, Mechanics, Inspectors)
  • Funeral Directors
  • Interior Designers
  • Land Surveyors
  • Plumbers
  • Professional Engineers
  • Real Estate Agents and Property Managers
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics
  • Security
  • Steam Engineers
  • Tour Guides

To apply for any of the above licenses,visit DCRA’s professional licensing online application page at or visit DCRA at 1100 4th Street SW.