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Consultants - Business Guide

Consultant is a generic term for someone who offers knowledge or expertise in a certain field for financial reward. Usually, these are working professionals who are regulated by their own professional associations and standards councils and do not require municipal licensing. However, the way a business is licensed depends on the full scope of services offered.

Examples of Consultants businesses

Examples of business activities which do require a municipal licence:

  • Architects and designers who also act as a general contractor.
  • Any consultant who sells a product.
  • Nutritional consultants who sell food supplements.
  • Security consultants or alarm agents.

Examples of business activities which do not require a municipal licence:

  • Doctors, dentists, optometrists, chiropractors and other health professionals who are regulated members under the Health Professions Act.
  • Lawyers and those working in the legal profession.
  • Architects, designers, engineers and land developers not acting as a contractor.
  • Home inspectors.
  • Real estate consultants, salespeople and mortgage brokers.
  • Financial consultants and accountants.
  • Journalists​

Note: All businesses operating in Calgary are required to register their business, obtain a business identification number (BID) or Business ID, and obtain land use approval for the business location even if it does not require a licence. Certain businesses that do not need a municipal licence may still require licensing, permits or inspections from other regulatory bodies.

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.


Businesses which do not require a licence do not have an associated fee to register for a Business ID.

Fees may be required for permits that are needed to meet land use approval.

Addition​al information

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.

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.

How to apply


Apply now

If you need help when completing your application Chat with us, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.

In person

Apply in person at the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment online.​

​​​​​​​​​​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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​