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Obtain an Activity License

NOTE: There is NO FEE for the Activity License.

An Activity License is needed to conduct business within Philadelphia. It was formerly known as the Business Privilege License. Prior to applying for any additional business licenses in the City of Philadelphia, you will first need to obtain an Activity License. This includes businesses that are located outside the city limits but do some or all of their business activity in the City.

There are three types of Activity Licenses that you will need to select: Commercial, Non-Profit and 2-4 Unit Owner-Occupied Housing.

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 for the Business Income and Receipts Tax ID online. Once you have a Tax Account number, you can then use the eClipse system to apply online.
  • If you already have a City of Philadelphia Tax Account Number, and need only the Commercial Activity License, apply online with the eCLIPSE system.
  • NOTE: Applicants wishing to apply for a Commercial Activity License online will need to register with the eCLIPSE system, which requires users to have an email address. In-person applications submitted at the License and Inspections counter at the Municipal Services Building also require an email address.

Apply Online

Applicants can apply for this license online with a valid email address.

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 above. The fax number and mailing address are listed on the application.

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

NOTE:

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, however they must register with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Revenue who will require a copy of the IRS exemption letter. Non-profits will also need to apply for a Non-Profit Activity License through the eClipse system.

Housing Inspection License
If the only business you are engaged in is renting 1-3 units in a property that you live in, then you will need a 2-4 Unit Owner-Occupied Housing Activity License through the eClipse systemA 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.

Additional Contact:

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