Businesses locate in cities because of the core of commercial activity centered in a city. This commercial activity is supported by city services including police services, fire services, zoning, street lights and sidewalks that can't be paid for on an individual usage basis or billed based on consumption.

The Association provides cities with a model business license ordinance that establishes a common rate structure based on the North American Industrial Classification System. The Business License Handbook outlines proper application and collection of the tax. City business licensing officials receive substantial training from the Business Licensing Officials Association.

In 2014, the Association established a standardized business license application targeted particularly to help transient businesses (those that do work in multiple jurisdictions) streamline the application process.