Ramadan & Associates Business Law Firm Law Blog

A Minute With Mo

What to Know When Applying for a Tobacco License in Chicago

I receive plenty of calls every month from potential clients who wish to apply for a tobacco license in Chicago.  The process for getting a tobacco license is now very difficult and strenuous. Here are a few things you should know prior to applying for a tobacco license:

  1. Location Check: Always run a location check before applying for a tobacco license in Chicago.  This is very crucial because it allows you to see what, if any, issues this location has prior to you spending money on lawyer and application fees.  I have witnessed how clients have paid city fees, only to be told that the location has massive debt that must first be paid. And, no, they did not give them a refund on their license application fee.  They lost over $1,300 simply because they did not run a location check.

  2. Background: Any person who wishes to apply for a tobacco license must have a clean criminal and city background.  No one with a felony is allowed to own a business license in Chicago. When applying for a tobacco license, you are required to provide fingerprints, and your fingerprints are run in the FBI database.  DO NOT LIE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND (I have had clients do that).  That is not a smart move.  Additionally, the city will run a check through the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) database.  If you have any prior tobacco violation tickets, it makes it extremely difficult to get approved.

  3. Financials: I receive about a minimum of 10-15 calls a month from people wanting to apply for a tobacco license.  I retain and apply for only about 3-5 clients a month, at best.  The biggest reason why I do not apply or take on a client is because their finances simply do not add up.  When applying for a tobacco license in Chicago, you must fill out a Financial Disclosure Form.  This form asks for all of your financial history and how you plan to pay for the new business.  As the head tobacco supervisor always tells me, “Moe, follow the money.  If we can’t follow the money then no license.” What this means is that they must be able to trace your finances to make sure you have the proper funding.  They require that you provide a minimum of 6 months- worth of bank statements.  Sometimes, they ask for further documentation.  This part is the #1 reason why I am hired to apply for clients.   

These three things are the biggest hurdles for clients trying to obtain a tobacco license.  I wanted people to be aware of these big hurdles before spending their hard-earned money and getting denied simply because they were not prepared when they applied.  My office has vast knowledge of the system and the relationships at City Hall, especially BACP, and we can navigate almost any license situation.  Please give us a call for a free consultation, and we will run a free location check for you.  The city has lawyers ready and waiting to deny you a license, do not go through this alone.


Ramadan & Associates is located in
Orland Park. Come visit us at

9501 W 144th Pl #104
Orland Park, IL 60462
312.929.2884

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