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Non-Profit Organizations, Associations and Miscellaneous

Are trade associations required to be licensed?

If the association provides services to members only they are not required to obtain a license. If the association is engaged in business services that derives income beyond its members then they would need a General Business License. If you conduct fund raising campaigns, seek government, local government, or grants you are not required to obtain a Charitable Solicitation License.

Are churches required to be licensed?

Churches are not required to obtains a business license, unless they are engaged in some type of business.

Are colleges required to get a business license?

Post secondary educational institutions are not required obtain a general business license because they are required to obtain an Educational Services license endorsement which issued by the Educational Licensure Commission.

I manage and operate a non-profit establishment. My organization is exempt from District and Federal Tax. Am I required to obtain a Basic Business License?

Non-profit is the tax status of a given organization. You must apply for a Basic Business License based on the source of your organizations funds. If you seek funds from your members only, you are not required to obtain a General Business License. If you conduct fund raising campaigns, seek government, local government, or grants you will need a Charitable Solicitation License.

For example, you may be an environmental research non-profit, which is funded by membership fees; or you may be a voluntary health organization, which solicits funds for research and educating the public on a specific health cause.

The environmental research non-profit would not be required to obtain a General Business License because it does not solicit funds outside its membership. The voluntary health organization, conversely, would require a Charitable Solicitation License because it solicits funds outside its membership. Each of those have different funding sources, and thus different license types.

How do I know if I am to register as a "Charitable Solicitation?"

This depends on how your organization is funded. If any or all of your funds come from fund raising efforts, grants, bazaars, auctions, or other events from outside of your own members, you must obtain a Charitable Solicitation License. Solicitation also includes seeking funds through federal, local or private grants.

What are the exceptions to "solicitation"?

The charitable solicitation requirements does not apply to those organizations who solicit solely for educational, church or religious purposes or a corporation or an unincorporated association under the supervision and control of any such entity that has been granted exemption from taxation under the provisions of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code (see DC Code §44-1703).

Does my non-profit need a general business license?

If your non-profit is not required to obtain a charitable solicitation license, it will need to obtain a General Business License.

I'm a religious organization and should be exempt from getting a license. Is this true?

Churches are not required to be licensed under the BBL Program unless they have additional activities such as schools; day care centers; soup kitchens, thrift shops, or other activities that must be inspected or investigated.

My business has an IRS 501(c)(3) exempt status. Do I still need to apply for Charitable Solicitation Registration?

If you are not a church or other religious organization, and you have 501(c)(3) status, it is likely you will need to obtain a license.

Does a condominium association that provides services or offers to provide services only to condominium unit owners need a general business license to operate in the District?

A condominium association does not need a general business license when it is only providing or offering to provide services to the unit owners and not the general public.

Does a condominium association that provides services or offers to provide services to the general public need a general business license to operate in the District?

When the condominium association provides or offers to provide any services to the general public a general business license is required.

Is a condominium association that offers condominium units for sale to the general public required to have a license to operate as a real estate broker in the District?

A condominium association that offers condominium units for sale to the general public must have a license as a real estate broker.

Is each non-profit entity, notwithstanding any District of Columbia or federal tax exemption status, having a tax identification number, required to obtain a business license from the District of Columbia to conduct its business operations including each condominium association and cooperative association?

The condominium association does not need a general business license when it is only providing or offering services to the unit owners and not to the general public. However, if the condominium association provides or offers to provide any services to the general public a general business license is required. In addition, a condominium association that offers units for sale to the general public must have a license as a real estate broker. Cooperative Associations are already required to obtain a Basic Business License and do not need an additional General Business License.