Most businesses need a business licence to operate in Calgary.
The City of Calgary Licence Division encourages responsible business practices through the administration and enforcement of several licensing bylaws.
The basic purposes of licensing
The basic purposes of licensing businesses and business activities are:
Where there is a clear danger to public safety;
Where the licensing function clearly assists in legislative compliance such as crime prevention and the recovery of stolen property;
Where some form of consumer protection is warranted such as supplier qualifications, or limitations on the businesses that are conducted at the potential consumer's residence;
Where the operation of the business rather than its location can cause negative spill-over effects into the neighbourhood;
Where the business activity clearly conflicts with the moral values of the citizens of Calgary; or
Where an alternative to the business tax is needed so that some businesses that do not pay the tax do not have an unfair advantage over those that do.
For more information see our brochures Business Licensing in Calgary and Licence Review Hearings.
The City of Calgary's Business Registration system will help determine what approvals, permits and business licences may be needed to operate a business within the city of Calgary.
If it is determined that you require a business licence, you will be advised of the licensing category or categories within which your business falls, other approvals and/or inspections that may be required before the licence will be issued, and how to obtain the licence.
Charitable organizations who undertake fundraising activities in Calgary are not required to obtain a City of Calgary business licence. There are provincial government regulations covering charitable fundraising.
For more information contact Alberta Government Services - Consumer Services Division 403-297-5700, or a private registry office.
Businesses outside Calgary
Any business operating in Calgary that falls within the licence categories requires a licence, whether resident or not. Non-resident companies pay the same fees as resident firms, plus a surcharge to approximate the Calgary business tax levy they don't pay. The test of residency is whether the licensed business is on either The City's property tax or business tax roll.
BizPaL is an online service run by Industry Canada, in partnership with several provincial and local governments. Calgary has recently joined the BizPaL service. The service is intended to simplify the processes for permit applications, business licences and other compliance regulations for entrepreneurs, governments, and third party business service providers, by providing Canadian businesses with one-stop access to permit and licence information for federal, provincial and municipal governments. The service's goals are to reduce document research time and help entrepreneurs start up faster.