Calgary Business Licence Process

[ Overview | Home-based business ]

A business license indicates to your customers that you have met the City's licensing requirements. You do not always need a business license, but if in doubt, call the City's Finance Department, License Division at 268-5521 (fax: 268-2291) and tell them about your business.

Some licenses may require additional inspections or approvals from:

Some of these departments or agencies may need to inspect your premises as part of the licensing process. Some businesses need to be inspected on an on-going or annual basis.

Some businesses that do not have a premises or location need to be licensed, including direct sellers, hawkers, tradesmen, entertainers, food services.

The cost of the license is based on the cost of performing the appropriate inspections and approvals (not on the square feet occupied or invested capital). If the business owns real property (buildings or land), it will also have to pay property taxes which support city operations and public schools. You may also have to pay business taxes on your business premises, on top of your property taxes. These taxes are based on property valuation, and if you are a tenant of the premises (rather than the owner) your allocation, if so provided for in the lease, is based on the square feet you occupy or lease.

If you move, you need to re-apply for a new license and get all the appropriate approvals. If you sell your business, then the new owners must re-apply for their license and obtain their own approvals since licenses are not transferable. License fees are not refundable.

Other New Business Issues
Trade names are not registered with the city but with Alberta Municipal Affairs (297-3442). You do not need be incorporated for a business license, but should check with your lawyer or accountant if there are other reasons to do so. To incorporate a business contact Alberta Municipal Affairs (297-3442). You can pick up forms for these at the Bowlen Building (where the Family Courts are)

You should also get a Business Identification Number (BIN) from Revenue Canada, which is also your GST number (no expenses qualify for a GST refund until you have a number!!). If you expect gross revenues over $30,000 you are required to collect and remit GST, and need a BIN number. Contact Revenue Canada, Taxation, GST at 221-7900.

Licenses for home-based businesses
There are two types of licenses for home-based businesses: home-based occupation, and a home-based business. Home-based business licenses are granted so long as the nature of the neighbourhood is preserved, since your neighbors bought their homes without prior knowledge of your business.

A home-based occupation (Class 2) covers many small businesses. This is likely the approapriate license if: you have a partner, want to have people visit your home, or have an employee work at your home. The Class 2 license costs $158, and forces certain restrictions:
Bylaw 2P80, section 20(11)
  1. You must live in the home.
  2. The business should use no more than 20% of the floor area or more than 30 metres (this limitation may affect your income tax deductions).
  3. The garage may be used for the business, provided it can still be used for parking a vehicle.
  4. There can be no outside storage of materials, goods, or equipment.
  5. The business cannot be visible from the outside.
  6. The business cannot create nuisance by way of electronic interference, dust, noise, odor, smoke, bright light, or anything else objectionable that is detectable from outside the home.
  7. The business cannot generate traffic to & from that is not characteristic of the neighbourhood.
  8. There can be one employee or business partner who is not living at the home.
  9. No more than one commercial vehicle under 4000 kilograms gross weight associated with the business can be parked at or near the home.
  10. No vehicles over 4000 kg can be parked at or near the home.
  11. Direct sale on the site related to the business is allowed.
  12. The address of the home occupation can not be advertised to the public.
A home-based business (class 1) business license is suitable for a small home business, such as consulting services or where you do most of your work outside the home. You can even use this license if you are buying and selling goods using a post office box. The cost for this is $25. You must comply with certain rules, in addition to those above:
Bylaw 2P80, section 20(11)
  1. Only one Class 1 license per home
  2. No part of any garage or accessory building may be used by the business
  3. There can be no employees or business partners who do not live at the home
  4. There can be no more than 3 visits a week by clients, staff, and/or couriers to the home associated with the business
  5. Direct sale of goods which are not produced on the site is not allowed
  6. No form of advertising on the site relating to the business is allowed
If you have any questions about which license class is appropriate, call city hall at (403) 268-5351

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