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Massage Services - New Business Guide

Businesses and practitioners who manipulate the soft tissues of a customer require a municipal licence.

Examples of business activities which do require a municipal licence:

  • Massage clinics
  • Massage therapists
  • Mobile massage
  • Spas
  • Wellness centres

Examples of business activities which do not require municipal licensing are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Holistic health therapies
  • Medical or therapeutic massage given by chiropractors, physiotherapists or medical doctors
  • Reiki practitioners
  • Students registered in a provincially licenced massage school who observe and perform a massage or body rub in the presence of an instructor or licenced practitioner
  • Facial massages performed supplementary to dental work

If your business does not require a licence, you still require a Business ID and land use approval, visit businesses not requiring a municipal licence​ for more information.

Consider your required approvals

Once you apply for your business licence, outstanding approvals must be completed before the business licence is issued.

A business licence will often have multiple licence types associated with it. Below is a chart of all the related licence types that fall under this business activity. Hover over a licence type for a definition. If your business requires multiple licence types, approval processes are only generated once per licence. For example, only one fire inspection is required even if multiple licence types require that inspection.

Required approvals chart​

Land use approval

All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both. Visit home based business or commercial based businesses for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre to investigate land use approval for your business.

Calgary Police Services approval

This licence type requires recommendation by the Police Information Check Unit. You are required to provide your full name, address, birth date and proof of identification (government-issued photo identification and one other form of identification). You must show ID at the Planning Services Centre. This approval generally takes about two weeks to complete.

When a business licence requiring a police check is applied for, this approval is automatically initiated and is completed by the Calgary Police Service internally. A police check from the past or from another police agency cannot be used instead of the police check required when applying for a business licence.

Fire Prevention Bureau approval

Businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. You will need your Business Identification (BID) number when you call to book the inspection. You must contact the Fire Prevention Bureau five business days prior to your ready-to-open date to arrange for the inspection. The Fire Prevention Bureau will notify the Licence Division with the results of the inspection.

This inspection must be performed by the Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors. This approval cannot be completed with an inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.

Contact 311 to book your inspection. See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your inspection.

Building Regulations, HVAC Inspection

Based on the business activity, you may require a ventilation inspection to ensure that it meets code requirements. This may require you to install a ventilation system. Please be aware that your business must not be operating until all approvals are in place, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

To book your HVAC inspection, call 403-268-2738, select option 2 and quote your business name or Business Identification (BID) number.

Provincial licensing approval

Certain business activities require provincial licensing. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for details on obtaining provincial licensing, if you are a prepaid contractor or a direct Seller.

A prepaid contracting business:

  • Solicits, negotiates or concludes prepaid contracts in person at any place other than the sellers’ place of business, and
  • Accepts money before all the work is done and/or the services are provided

A direct seller:

  • Solicits, negotiates, or concludes sales contracts in person, at any place other than the seller’s place of business.

You can present your provincial licence in person at the Planning Services Centre, fax it to the Business Licence Division at 403-537-3034 or email it to licencedivisionteam@calgary.ca.

Fees

For business licence fees, see the Business Licence Fee Schedule. The business licence fee schedule is broken down by licence type. If your business requires multiple licence types, the highest category fee will be charged.

These fees do not include the costs related to required permits to meet land use approval, or any third-party approvals or inspections that may be required to obtain your licence.

Apply for your business

Visit How to apply to determine the ways in which you can make an application for your business.

Receive your business licence

Upon completion of all outstanding approvals, the business licence will be issued. It will be sent in the mail to the applicant or, if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. For commercial businesses, the physical copy of your business licence should be posted in plain sight of the public.

If you are intending to make any changes to your business after you’ve received your licence, please visit changes to your business for more information.

How long is my licence good for?

Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. Forty-five days before the licence expires, a notice is mailed out advising the licensee of the expiry date. Any outstanding fines must be paid prior to renewal.

Additional in​formation

Business ownership changes

A business licence or business ID is not transferable from one person to another or from one person's business premises to another.

Multiple premises

A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each premises.

Licence type combinations

To ensure the proper approvals are generated for a business, multiple licence types may be attached to a single business licence. For example, a cabinet maker would require a manufacturer licence type; if the business is also installing the cabinets, a contractor licence type is required. Both licence types will appear on the same business licence document and only one renewal will be required.

Charitable organization

All charitable organizations must be associated with another licenced business activity. Approval must be granted by the province before applying for a municipal licence.

Businesses not eligible for a charity status:

  • Alcohol beverage sales
  • Tobacco retailer

All fundraising activity is governed by the charitable fundraising act. Charitable organizations that are only fundraising should contact Alberta Municipal Affairs, Housing and Consumer Affairs Division at 1-780-427-8044 or 1-877-427-4088.

All applicants for this licence type should first consult with the province about eligibility for this designation and register their business, prior to applying for a municipal business licence. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for more information.

Rules and regulations

Massage centre

Businesses that offer and perform a massage from a location to the public for a fee require a massage centre licence. A massage office, or a mobile massage, is a business where a person books and maintains the records of a massage business at his or her home, but the massages are preformed elsewhere. A massage centre or office business can only employ licenced massage practitioners. All massage centres must be within Calgary, however, the owner may live elsewhere.

Massage practitioner

Individual paid to perform massages in Calgary are required to have a massage practitioner’s licence unless they are part of a provincially-regulated group allowed to perform massage under a professional designation (e.g. chiropractors or physiotherapists). A massage practitioner is a member in good standing with one of the recognized massage associations and must provide proof upon application. The City recognizes the following massage associations:

Stand-alone or self-employed practitioners must also obtain a licence for a massage office or centre.

Students in a provincially-licensed massage school do not require a practitioner's licence if being observed by an instructor or licenced practitioner. Students performing massages not in the presence of a licenced practitioner require a practitioner's licence.

Body rub centre

If a business does not hire exclusively licensed massage practitioners (affiliated with one of the municipally approved associations), then a body rub centre licence is required. Body rub centres may also hire massage practitioners.

A body rub centre is not allowed to operate as a home-based business and is not allowed to offer mobile massage services.

A body rub centre cannot be within 300 metres of another body rub centre and can not operate from the same premises as a massage centre. Body rub centres must be within Calgary, however, the owner may live elsewhere.

Body rub centres applying for new licences are required to complete both a compliance and ownership statutory declaration upon application.

Body rub practitioner

Body rub practitioners are individuals who have a minimum of 250 hours of education/training from an approved school of massage, but are not a member of the recognized massage associations. All body rub practitioners must provide proof of employment from a licenced body rub centre upon application.

An original certificate of proficiency demonstrating 250 hours of massage training from a recognized school or institute and statutory declaration must be presented upon application.

Licence combinations

Businesses licenced as massage centres that offer other services such as hair and aesthetics, manicures, pedicures or physical fitness conditioning require a personal service licence. Businesses selling products require a retail dealer licence. If food or edible products including herbs, vitamins, supplements, non-alcoholic beverages or related products are sold, then a food service licence is also required.

Massage combo licence

Home-based massage practitioners that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for a combo licence. The ownership of the business must be a sole proprietorship and no other category of licensing is allowed on the licence (e.g. retail dealer or personal service).

Massage office

A massage office cannot have any employees or perform massages at the massage office location. This licence is intended for a single person operation who books their own appointments and then goes to a client’s location. Persons wishing to book appointments for other massage practitioners would be licenced as a massage centre.

Additional licence regulations   

Acupuncture treatment is regulated by the Health Disciplines Act with Alberta Health - 1-780-427-3276.

Massage and body rub practitioners must be a minimum of 18 years of age.

In addition to an annually-renewed business licence, body rub practitioners require a photo identification card that must be renewed annually.

In addition to an annually-renewed business licence, photo identification cards are optional for massage practitioners and can be provided on request.

Disclaimer: This information has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. The City of Calgary accepts no responsibility to persons relying solely on this information. Web pages are updated periodically.​​​​

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