Philadelphia’s Commercial Activity License

    submitted by Bianca A. Roberto, Esq., Stark & Stark

    Companies that do business in the City of Philadelphia are required to obtain a Commercial Activity License from the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L&I).

    While there are some exceptions, your company will likely need a license to own and operate a business in Philadelphia. If you or your business operates a non-profit, rents three units in a building that you also live in, or is securing a vacant property license, then a different license is required.

    Before applying for the license, your company will need to secure a city tax account number and a Federal Identification Number or EIN. The business entity must be current on all City of Philadelphia taxes.

    L&I now permits people to apply for a Commercial Activity License online through its web portal. If you apply online, then your Commercial Activity License will be issued automatically.

    You can still make an in-person appointment with L&I to complete the application process. If you apply in-person, your Commercial Activity License will be issued during your appointment.

    Owners of commercial properties should keep in mind that they will not be able to evict a tenant if they do not hold the proper licenses with the City. Additionally, if your business does not have a commercial activity license, then it is not legally operating in Philadelphia. Companies doing business within the city limits should verify that they have secured the proper licenses in order to avoid problems and delays.

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