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Obtaining a Commercial Activity License

NOTE: There is NO FEE for the Commercial Activity License.

A Commercial Activity License is required for all businesses operating in Philadelphia. This includes businesses that are located outside the city limits but do some or all of their business activity in the City.

Also, if you receive payment for work and an employer does not pay wage taxes on your behalf for that work, you are considered a Sole Proprietor and treated as a business by the City of Philadelphia. You are required to apply for a Commercial Activity License to work as a Sole Proprietor in the City.

Prerequisites:

In addition, the Pennsylvania State Sales and Use Tax Number is a prerequisite if your business collects sales tax from your customers.

To obtain a license online:
  • You must have a City of Philadelphia Tax Account number before you can obtain a Commercial Activity License. Using Internet Explorer 5.0 or better, you can apply online. Once your registration for a Tax Account Number is complete, the site will automatically allow you to also apply for a Commercial Activity Licence.
  • If you already have a City of Philadelphia Tax Account Number, and need only the Commercial Activity License, apply online

. To obtain a license in person or through the mail:
  • In person: Visit the Department of Licenses & Inspections at the Municipal Services Building, Public Concourse Level, 1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
  • Via Fax or Mail: Download and print the paper application. The fax number and mailing address are listed on the application.

Lifetime Application 

If submitting this application by fax or mail, there may be a delay in processing your license. Applicants are urged to apply online.

Exemptions:

Non Profit Organizations
Not for profit corporations and charitable non profit 501(C) (3) corporations are not required to pay Business Income and Receipts Taxes nor are they required to obtain a Commercial Activity License.  However, they must register with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Revenue who will require a copy of the IRS exemption letter.

Housing Inspection License
A Commercial Activity License is not required for owner occupied 2, 3 or 4 unit dwellings.  Section 101 D (8) of the Revenue Department’s Business Tax Regulation states “doing business shall not include rental income generated from real property which is the principal residence to the owner and consists of three or less residential units.”

Proof of occupancy is required in the form of a valid Pennsylvania Driver’s License or a current utility bill from an electric, gas or telephone company showing the applicant’s name, address and unit number.  Please note:  A water utility bill is not acceptable as proof of occupancy.

Vacant House or Lot License
An Applicant for the Vacant House or Lot License is not required to obtain a Commercial Activity License.

Contact:

For Business Income and Receipts Tax information -
Department of Revenue:  
Phone: 215-686-6600  
Email

For Commercial Activity License Information -
Department of Licenses and Inspections
License Issuance Unit - PSC
1401 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Phone: 311
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am- 3:30pm (except for the last Wednesday of each month when the hours are 8:00am- 12:00 Noon)
Email