Business Licence – A permit issued by the City to operate a business.
Land Use Approval – City approval to operate at a given location.
Business ID (BID) – A unique identification number required by all businesses operating within Calgary.
Before you start
This is information on fees, inspections and making changes to a business already registered with The City of Calgary.
Your existing business should be registed and have a Business ID. If you have not yet registered your business, please visits apply now. For general information on starting a business, please visit Business 101.
Moving or changing addresses
You are required to notify The City if you are changing addresses to your business. Contact the Planning Services Centre to find out the required approvals, if the space you’re moving to will allow for your type of business activites and to ensure you are licenced for your new location.
Business licences and approvals are location-specific. When you are moving a business, it is similar to a new licence application; fees will be charged at the new licence rate and new inspections and approvals are required .
Start a business move process:
- In person at the Calgary Municipal Building, or
- Contact our Planning Services Centre
Changing your business mailing address only
If you are only changing your mailing address and not the location of the business, an update can be done to your business licence free of charge:
- In person at the Calgary Municipal Building, or
- Contact our Planning Services Centre
Business name or ownership change
If your business ownership is changing, you are required to notify The City. In some instances, a new business licence is required.
For more information regarding the types of ownership, visit business ownership
For any of the following changes, contact the Planning Services Centre.
Adding/removing a partner
If you are adding or removing a partner from an existing partnership, the business is required to submit a letter signed by all owners.
Adding/removing a director
When a director is added to or deleted from a corporation, the customer must provide a copy of a corporate registry search showing the current directors or a copy of the filed notice of directors obtained from an Alberta Registry.
An amalgamation is the merging of two or more businesses into a single legal entity or ownership. This requires a copy of the Certificate of Amalgamation, including the registry forms, to ensure the change is current.
Purchased/sold a business (change of ownership)
When a business changes ownership, the existing business licence must be closed and a new one must be created for the new owner. The individual(s) purchasing the business are required to set up a new licence. The individual(s) selling the business must contact the Planning Services Centre to to close the business.
Corporate entity name change (amendment)
When a corporate entity legally changes (amends) its name, The City requires a copy of the Certificate of Amendment.
Corporation is formed (incorporation) or dissolved
Home-based business only:
If a sole proprietor changes to a corporation (and is the only director) or a partnership changes to a corporation (and those partners become the only directors), copies of the certificate of incorporation showing the directors must be provided to The City.
If a home-based corporation is dissolved to a sole proprietor or a partnership, with the corporate director(s) forming the new owners, documentation showing the changes must be provided to The City, to update the business licence.
Commercial-based business only:
If a sole proprietor or partnership changes to a corporation, a new business licence is required. All associated approvals and inspections for the business location and all applicable fees are required to obtain the new licence.
If a commercial-based corporation is dissolved, a new business licence is required. All associated approvals and inspections for the business location and all applicable fees are required to obtain the new licence.
Corporation taken over
Takeover means acquiring control of a corporation by stock purchase or exchange. The directors and shareholders may or may not change.
This includes corporations that add the year to its corporate title. For example, 123456 Alberta Ltd. is a different corporate entity than 123456 Alberta (1996) Ltd.
This also includes a completely different corporation taking over another. For example, Coal Inc. is taken over by a new owner, Coal Springs Investments Inc. This is a new ownership and a new business.
The existing business licence must be closed and a new one must be created for the new owner. The individual(s) purchasing the business are required to set up a new licence and the individual(s) selling the business must close the business licence.
Trade name change
Changes to a trade name do not require a new licence, as long as the ownership remains the same. Changes can be made by contacting the Planning Services Centre.
Inspections may be required as part of the initial licence approval. If you are in a commercial business location, a business licence fire inspection will be required by the Fire Prevention Bureau. Certain commercial businesses, based on activities, will also require a mechanical inspection for the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to ensure adequate ventilation. If your business deals with food for human consumption, or products/services relating to human health, you may need an inspection by Alberta Health Services. Certain licences may also require a licence inspector or a police officer to inspect the business location.
After the licence is issued, subsequent annual inspections may be carried out by any one of the regulatory bodies. Unscheduled inspections may also be initiated by public concern or at the discretion of the licence inspectors.
For specific requirements for your business, including those not covered here, please visit calgary.ca/mybusiness or contact the Planning Services Centre.
City of Calgary inspections, processes and approvals
Business licence fire inspection
Businesses that operate from commercial premises require a Fire Prevention Bureau inspection before a licence can be issued. The licence must have been applied for and a unique business identification (BID) number is required to book the inspection. Contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at least five business days prior to your 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 completed by the Fire Prevention Bureau inspectors. A business licence cannot be issued on the basis of an inspection completed by the firefighting division.
A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system safety inspection ensures that it meets code requirements. This inspection is based on business activities. It may require you to install a ventilation system if there is none or upgrade the existing system if it is inadequate.
Calgary Police Services approval
The Police Information Check Unit does a security check on certain licence types. Owners or directors of the business are required to provide full name, address, birth date and proof of identification (government-issued photo identification and one other form of identification). ID is shown at the Planning Services Centre. This approval generally takes two weeks to complete.
When a police check is applied for, this approval is automatically initiated and completed by the Calgary Police Service. A police check from the past or from another police agency cannot be used in lieu of the police check required when applying for a business licence.
Land use approval
All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use. The use of that space cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both. The Planning Services Centre can help you find out what type of planning approval is required for your business.
Third party approvals
Provincial licensing approval
Certain business activities, such as payday lenders, prepaid contractors and direct sellers, require provincial licening. These are governed by the province and the licence application and requirements are the responsibility of the business applying. Please visit Service Alberta consumer licences or call 1-877-427-4088.
You can present your provincial licence in person at the Planning Services Centre, fax it directly to the Business Licence Division at 403-537-3034 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alberta Health Services approval
Businesses involved in the sale, preparation, manufacturing or storage of food products must have the location inspected by Alberta Health Services (AHS). The results of the inspection will be provided to the licence division.
If you have contacted AHS and they have advised you that your business does not require a health inspection, record the name and phone number of the individual you spoke with and provide it to our Planning Services Centre.
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC)
The AGLC administers the regulations and policies relating to alcohol and gaming in the province. Businesses associated with alcohol licences or involved in gaming should contact the AGLC to obtain proper provincial licensing, in addition to any City licence.
Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council
Certain motor vehicle business activities require provincial licensing. Contact the Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council (AMVIC) for details on obtaining your provincial licence. AMVIC requires City planning approval before issuing an AMVIC licence. Once you’ve obtained your AMVIC licence, present it in person at the Planning Services Centre, fax it directly to 403-537-3034 or email email@example.com.
How do I arrange for inspections?
At the time of your business licence application, you will be told what inspections and approvals are required based on what type of business you are operating and from what location.
To arrange for inspections or discuss approvals
- Planning Services Centre - 403-268-5311
- Discuss licencing and land use approval requirements.
- Building permit (where applicable) and occupancy permit requirements.
- Update on external inspections (Alberta Health Services, Service Alberta, AMVIC).
- Calgary Fire Department - Fire Prevention Bureau (contact via 3-1-1 or 403-268-2489)
- Book your business licence fire inspection (when in a commercial business location). Visit the fire inspections and investigations page for information on what is inspected and required.
- Building Regulations HVAC Inspections (call 403-268-2738, option 2)
- Book HVAC inspection for your business.
Other contacts for inspections and approvals (Provincial government)
Fees and renewals
Business licence fees
When setting up a new licence, applicable fees will apply. Fees are based on the licence type and whether the business is home-based or commercial-based. Business licence fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. These fees are subject to change the next calendar year.
2017 Business Licence Fee Schedule
Renewing a business licence
Business licences require annual renewal payment to remain active. The City will mail out a licence invoice 45 days prior to the required payment date. If a licence is not renewed before this date, it will expire, making the licence invalid. If payment is not made during the expiration period, The City will close the licence file and new fees and approvals will apply.
When paying by mail or at a financial institution, allow sufficient time for payments to reach our office by the due date.
The City of Calgary
PO Box 2100 Station M (#8043)
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5
Planning Services Centre
Third floor, Municipal Building
800 Macleod Tr S.E. Calgary, Alberta
Deposit payment with the invoice in the night depository at 801 3 St. S.E., on the east side of the Calgary Municipal Building.
Call 403-268-5311 to pay with VISA, MasterCard or American Express.
At a financial institution
Invoice payments can be made at most chartered banks, trust companies, credit unions and Alberta Treasury Branches (in person or online). Only the actual invoice can be used, not the renewal letter.
Customers require a few key items from their invoice:
- Payee: when setting up the payee on your online banking, choose payee CALGARY (CITY OF) - CORPORATE INVOICE. (Note: different banks may have a variation of the spelling, e.g. Calgary (City): Corporate Invoice). If you are uncertain if you have selected the right payee, confirm with the bank.
- Payee account number: some banks or institutions may refer to this as the accounts receivable number (A/R#). Use your customer number on the invoice. If you are unable to find your customer number, contact the Planning Services Centre.
Obtaining a business licence copy
Lost or damaged licences
If you have a lost or damaged licence and you are looking to obtain a new copy, replacement licence fees apply. Payment can be processed by the Planning Services Centre in person or over the phone.
Licence not received in mail
Please allow for a couple of weeks to receive the licence in the mail. If you have not received it, please contact the Planning Services Centre to request a duplicate copy.
Licence violations, penalties, review hearings and appeals
A licence inspector may fine a business or suspend its licence if found to be operating without a licence, operating contrary to licence conditions or failing to fulfill licence requirements. A licence inspector can also issue a violation ticket that requires a court appearance from the business owner.
Paying for a licence violation ticket
Licence violation tickets (i.e. licence fines) can be mailed to The Provincial Court of Alberta:
Provincial Court of Alberta, Calgary Court Centre
Suite 203S, 601 5 St. S.W.
Calgary, AB T2P 5P7
NOTE: Cheques must be made payable to The Provincial Court of Alberta.
Licence violation penalties
Penalties for licence violations and the minimum fines can be found in the applicable Business Licence Bylaw.
Licence review hearings
Licence review hearings are held for non-recommendations, alleged breaches of The City’s business licence bylaws, including inappropriate behaviour, breaches of statutes, criminal activity or ongoing complaints. The outcome may result in licence refusal, conditions, revocation or suspension.
To appeal a licence review hearing decision, such as refusal to grant a licence, imposed conditions, revocation or suspension of a licence, file an appeal to the Calgary Licence and Community Standards Appeal Board for a public hearing on the issue.