The District of Columbia does not require charitable registrations, but to solicit contributions in DC, you will need to obtain a Basic Business License. With our help, the steps below will be as easy as 1-2-3!
Qualify to do business in the District of Columbia
- Designate a Registered Agent
- Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy number (only if you are located in DC)
- Make sure that your IRS Determination Letter is current
- Register with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue
- Apply for Exemption from Income and Franchise tax
- Obtain a Certified Resolution
- Make sure you don’t owe the DC Government money
- Apply online for your Basic Business License (BBL)
Qualify to do Business in the District of Columbia
If your organization is a corporation created outside the District of Columbia, you will have to register as a foreign nonprofit corporation with the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. As part of this process, you will report the names of your corporate officers and designate a Registered Agent, either an organization or an individual located in DC who can accept legal documents for your organization.
Designate a Registered Agent
If you do not have someone who can represent you in DC, we can help with that too! Our Registered Agent service can accept delivery of legal documents for your organization and make sure that they reach you.
Obtain a Certificate of Occupancy number
This is required if you have an office or other facility located in DC. Most commercial office buildings already have a Certificate of Occupancy allowing use of their space by tenants. You will need to obtain the number for your building and enter it as part of the application process for the BBL.
Make Sure that your IRS Determination Letter is current
If you applied for tax exemption from the IRS, you received a determination letter spelling out your organization’s status under the IRS code. You will need that letter to apply for tax exemption in DC. If the letter is more than four years old, you will need an updated letter, known as an Affirmation Letter. A representative of your organization must request the Affirmation Letter from the IRS; more information is available at https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-affirmation-letters.
Register with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue
This registration is done online and requires your organization’s tax ID number, identification of your organization’s structure, and the names, titles, home addresses, and Social Security numbers of the organization’s principal officers.
Apply for Exemption from Income and Franchise Tax
This isn’t a required step for the BBL, but now that your tax-exempt organization has registered with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, you will want to make sure that you do not have to pay DC Income and Franchise Tax. This application is done online at MyTax.DC.gov. You will have to upload your IRS Determination Letter or Affirmation Letter as part of the process.
Obtain a Certified Resolution
A corporate officer must sign a form to certify that you are authorized to apply for the Basic Business License. This form will be uploaded as part of the BBL application process.
Make Sure you don’t owe DC money
As part of the online application process for the BBL, you will be asked to file a Clean Hands Certificate, certifying that your organization does not owe the District of Columbia more than $100. As with any other form, you must be able to answer this question truthfully, so make sure all accounts are up to date!
Apply online for your Basic Business License
The hard parts are done. (Well, except for the payment.) This application is done online, but if you have followed the steps above, you will have all the documents you need. DC charges a fee of $412.50 for the BBL, but it does not have to be renewed for 2 years.