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Who Must Have a Debt Collection Agency License?
Businesses whose principal purpose is to regularly collect or to attempt to collect personal or household debts from New York City residents must have a Debt Collection Agency license no matter where the agency is located, including outside of New York State. This licensing requirement includes:
- Attorneys and law firms who regularly engage in activities traditionally performed by debt collectors
- “Debt buyers,” businesses that buy debt and then try to collect money directly or through the services of another
This description is only a general explanation of which businesses need to have a Debt Collection Agency license. You may refer to New York City Administrative Code Section 20-489 for a complete description, as well as the Law/Rules handout
Attention: Attorneys and Law Firms
As a result of the resolution of Eric M. Berman P.C. v. City of New York, 09-cv-3017, slip op. at 1 (E.D.N.Y. February 3, 2016) (order dismissing the case), you or your law firm may require a Debt Collection Agency license from DCA.
Quick List of Application Requirements
- Basic License Application
- Debt Collection Agency Licensing & Renewal Supplement
- Debt Collection / Child Support form (if applicable)
- Debt Collection Agency Non-Resident Form (if applicable)
- Granting Authority to Act Affirmation (if applicable)
- License Fee
See Application Requirements section for detailed descriptions
Before You File Your DCA License Application:
You must obtain the following required documents before filing your application. Although DCA does not require submission of these documents in order to process your application in person or online, DCA reserves the right to request and examine the documents under Section 20-104 of the New York City Administrative Code.
- Applicable Business Certificates based on your Business's Legal Structure
- Sole Proprietorships operating under a name other than your own must file a Business/Assumed Name Certificate with the clerk of the county in which your business is conducted.
- Sole Proprietorships doing business under your own name—and not under a trade or Doing-Business-As (DBA) name—do not need a Business Certificate.
- General/Business Partnerships must file your Partnership Certificate with the clerk of the county in which your business is conducted.
- Corporations, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, or Limited Liability Partnerships must register and remain active with the New York State Department of State. DCA will verify active status prior to license issuance. You can confirm the status of your business entity at http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/bus_entity_search.html. If applicable, you must also file an Assumed Name Certificate for your business.
- Businesses incorporated out of state must obtain a Certificate of Doing Business in Good Standing from your home state’s Secretary of State and file this with an application for Authority to Conduct Business in New York with the New York State Secretary of State.
When You File Your DCA License Application:
Below are requirements when filing your license application. If you fail to submit all documents, your application will be denied.
- Basic License Application
Online submission: After reviewing the application requirements, please click the Apply Online link at the bottom of the Web page to submit your application.
In-person submission: Download the Basic License Application Form.
Reminder: If your business legal structure is sole proprietorship or general or limited partnership, you must complete the Child Support Certification section of the application.
- Debt Collection Agency – Licensing & Renewal Supplement (download)
You must complete and affirm the information provided on this form.
- Debt Collection/Child Support Form (download)
You must complete the Debt Collection/Child Support Form to indicate whether your business will collect child support payment debts within New York City. If your business will collect child support payment debts, you must submit the following documents:
- Copy of the disclosure form used by the Debt Collection Agency in New York City.
This form has all of the disclosure terms required under New York City Administrative Code § 20-494.1 (e).
- Copy of the standard contract for child support payment debt collection services used by the Debt Collection Agency in New York City.
This form has all of the contract terms required under New York City Administrative Code § 20-492 (c).
- Copy of your $5,000 Surety Bond, properly signed.
The copy of the bond must name the City of New York as the Certificate Holder. Your corporate name, Doing-Business-As (DBA) name (if any), and premises address must be exactly the same on all documents. You must also submit a copy of the bond receipt showing that the bond has been paid in full and does not expire before the end of the licensing period. For reference, Download a list of bonding companies.
- Debt Collection Agency Non-Resident Form (download)
If your business is NOT located within New York City, you must complete and submit the attached Debt Collection Agency Non-Resident form.
- Granting Authority to Act Affirmation (download)
If this application will be prepared and submitted by someone other than the license applicant, the license applicant must submit a Granting Authority to Act Affirmation. Note: The applicant must sign all required documents.
- License Fee
The chart below lists the amount due depending upon when you file your license application. Note: An odd year is any year ending in an odd digit; for example, 2017. An even year is any year ending in an even digit; for example, 2018.
Debt Collection Agency License Fee
- License Term:2 Years
- License Expiration Date:January 31, Odd years
- From February 1 in an odd year to July 31 in an odd year $150
- From August 1 in an odd year to January 31 in an even year $113
- From February 1 in an even year to July 31 in and even year $75
- From August 1 in an even year to January 31 in an odd year $38 or *$188
*If you are applying within six months of the license expiration date, you can pay the prorated fee for the remaining license term plus the full fee to renew the license for the next term. If you pay both fees, you will not need to renew the license until the end of the next license period.
The DCA Licensing Center and the NYC Small Business Support Center accept payment by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover Card) or check or money order made payable to NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.
If you submit your application online, you must pay with a major credit card.
Note: Credit card payments are subject to a nonrefundable convenience fee. In the event the payment to which it relates is canceled, refunded, credited, or charged back, you must contact your credit card company to dispute the convenience fee.
Application Filing Process
File in person at one of the following locations:
- DCA Licensing Center at 42 Broadway, Lobby, in Manhattan. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday.
- NYC Small Business Support Center at 90-27 Sutphin Blvd, 4th Floor, in Jamaica, Queens. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
If you do not speak or understand English well, please let us know when you arrive on-site and we will provide translation services.
- Please review requirements for the license and gather all materials before clicking the button below. Note: At this time, the service is available using a laptop or desktop computer only.
- If you haven’t registered an account with the City of New York, you will need to register an account before you can proceed to the online application.
- After you submit the online application, follow the instructions on the confirmation page. DCA cannot process incomplete applications.
- Important: If you need to file another license application, return to the Apply for a DCA License page to read requirements and proceed to the online application.
Additional Resources for Debt Collection Agency
Below are resources to help debt collection agencies know the law and their responsibilities.
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