Business Licenses Checklist

A step-by-step guide to obtain your business license

Before you apply: confirm if your business requires a license

STEP 1   Obtain a Building Permit or Occupancy Permit

If you are doing construction and/or establishing a new use, see the Plan Review division about applying for a building permit.

A Certificate of Occupancy will be issued when a permit is completed. After the building has been certified for your intended use, proceed to step 2.

STEP 2   Choose a Name For Your Business or Register your Incorporated Business

a) Choose A Name For Your Business:

If you conduct business under an assumed name, you must file an application for an Assumed Name Certificate with Wayne County. Assumed Name application forms are available at the Wayne County Clerk's Office.

Online information on assumed names.

b) If You Incorporate Your Business, You Must Register:
If you incorporate or establish a limited partnership, you must register with the State of Michigan. Please get legal advice about operating as a sole proprietor, a partnership, a limited partnership or a corporation. Incorporation forms are available at:

Department of Labor and Economic Growth

STEP 3   Apply for your Federal Tax ID Number

Apply For Your Federal Tax ID Number online 
or Obtain the Federal Tax ID forms at:

McNamara Building
477 Michigan Avenue (at Cass)
Detroit, MI 48226.

Optional: Sales Tax Number:

If you have a sales tax number you can submit that documentation as well. The sales tax number form is available at:
Michigan Department of Treasury, Collections Division.

Step 4   Apply For Your Detroit Business License  

Apply for your license online

Provide The Following:

  • Assumed Name or Articles of Corporation Papers (from STEP 2)
  • Information for all applicants and/or stockholders/corporation officers
    • Telephone Numbers
    • Driver License or State Identification Card
  • Federal Identification Number (from STEP 3)
  • Proof of property ownership – Lease (Notarized) or Land Contract/Property Deed (registered with Wayne County)
  • Building Permit or Occupancy Permit (from STEP 1)
  • Personal Property Tax ID # (if unknown, contact the Office of the Assessor, (313) 224-3025)
  • State of Michigan Liquor License Activity Document (if applicable)

Additional supporting documents:

Step 5   Pay the business license fee

Acceptable Form of Payment: Cash, Certified Check, Money Order or Credit Card (Master Card & Visa)

NOTE: Receipt of payment is not a business license

Step 6   Application review

The department will identify missing documents & provide a checklist of required approvals based on your business type. This may include:

  • Certificate of Compliance
  • Certificate of Occupancy (when permit is finalized)
  • Income Tax & Account Receivable (from STEP 4)
  • Fire Inspection
  • Environmental Health
  • Food Safety Inspection
  • Bond/Insurance
  • Police

Step 7   A Certificate of License will be issued

Once all approvals are secured, your license is issued. 
Remember: All Licenses Are Renewable Annually


City Ordinances are available in the City Clerk's Office located in Room 200 at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

If not operating a business in the City of Detroit, please check with the city or township where you plan to do business.