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Upcoming online outages

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From Friday, August 30, 2019 at 5 p.m. to Monday, September 2, 2019 at 11 p.m. our online application submission will be unavailable due to a planned outage. Please try again on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

 

From Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 5 p.m. to Monday, September 16, 2019 online application submission and document retrieval will be unavailable because of a planned outage. Please try again on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 or contact the Planning Services Centre for more information. To request an inspection during this time, submit a 311 Online Inspection Service Request or download our 311 Calgary app and select the Inspection service type.

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Information |  Upcoming online outages

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From Friday, August 30, 2019 at 5 p.m. to Monday, September 2, 2019 at 11 p.m. our online application submission will be unavailable due to a planned outage. Please try again on Tuesday, September 3, 2019.

 

From Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 5 p.m. to Monday, September 16, 2019 online application submission and document retrieval will be unavailable because of a planned outage. Please try again on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 or contact the Planning Services Centre for more information. To request an inspection during this time, submit a 311 Online Inspection Service Request or download our 311 Calgary app and select the Inspection service type.

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This page is intended to help businesses to understand the importance of deciding where and how you plan to operate your business and how that affects the different City permits and approvals that are required before you can open.

Although a business licence is not required for all business types, registering your business with The City and obtaining approval for the location you plan to operate is always required.

For more information on business basics, planning resources, why businesses are required to be licensed, and business tax information, visit Business 101.

How to apply


Step 1: Know your location

Determine where your business will be located. See the where am I operating? section below to learn about potential locations for your business.

Step 2: Know the rules

Search for the type of business you plan to open (or see the business categories) to learn about rules that apply to your business, fees, and other key licensing information.


Type a search in the search input to find business categories and business types

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Contact the Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311.



Step 3: Apply

Start a business online

To apply in-person, visit the Planning Services Centre. To skip the line, book an appointment online.

Step 4: Complete your approvals

Consider your required approvals

Where am I operating?


Commercial-based location

Your business will operate from a commercial or industrial location in Calgary.

In these locations, The City will review your proposed location and determine what approvals are required to operate legally and safely.

All businesses in Calgary require land use approval before they can open.

Land use approval

Land use approval is consent from The City of Calgary for certain business activities to occur within city limits. Allowable business activities can change from location to location; for example commercial land use districts allow different activities than industrial land use districts.

Business activities are classified as “uses” in the Land Use Bylaw. To determine what type of “use” a business is and if that “use” is allowed in a particular land use district, refer to the Land Use Bylaw​.

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The City considers several factors to determine if an application satisfies, or does not satisfy, the land use rules. These factors are as follows:

  • if use of the space is changing
  • if the use is permitted, discretionary, or requires a relaxation
  • parking requirements
  • if a building permit is required

Land use approval is obtained through one or more of the following permit types. You may require a combination of permits.

Land use approval types

Development permit

A developme​nt permit for a change of use could be required when:

  • a business is moving into a new space and will operate differently from the previous business
  • an existing business is making a change to current business activities
  • it's the first business to occupy a space

The change of use required will depend if the “use” of the business is permitted or discretionary, and if a relaxation of a land use bylaw rule is required.

If a development permit for a change of use is required when a new business is started or an existing business is changed, it can be applied for at the same time as the business licence. Please see the checklist for permitted change of use or discretionary/permitted with relaxation change of use for more information.

To determine your application fee, please see the Development permit/planning applications fee schedule.

For more information on the development permit process itself please see the Development Permit Process.

Change of use - permitted
A permitted change of use is required when the “use” of the space is changing and the new use is permitted within the land use district. There can be no relaxations of any land use bylaw rules in this application.

If all the land use bylaw rules are met, a permitted change of use will be approved, this application is typically completed in five business days.

Change of use - discretionary and permitted with relaxation
A permitted change of use with relaxation is required when the “use” of a space is changing and it is permitted within the land use district, but a relaxation of one or more of the land use bylaw rules is requested.

A discretionary change is required when the “use” of the space is changing and the new use is discretionary within the land use district. A discretionary change of use can include a request to relax one or more land use bylaw rules.

Discretionary change of use and permitted change of use with relaxation applications follow the same steps and approval processes.

Please note that approval is not guaranteed and these applications are evaluated on an individual basis. The timeline for this type of permit is approximately 10 weeks.

View some sample drawings​.

Building permit

If a building permit is required, the land use approval will be granted when the building permit is complete.

Building permit details and drawings can be submitted online at the same time that a new business licence application is made, or when applying online to make changes to an existing business. Currently, payment for the building permit is accepted after the application is completed, but an integrated payment system is coming soon. Applications can also be made in person at the Planning Services Center.

For more information on specific application types please see the corresponding checklist:

Tenancy change

A tenancy change application is required when a business changes ownership and the business activities or approved “use” of the space remains the same.

For certain types of businesses, you will need to submit drawings to complete the tenancy change application. For more information see the Tenancy change requirements list.

A tenancy change application is required when a new business is moving into an existing space and there is no change to the previously approved business activities.

A tenancy change can be submitted online with a new business licence application or in person at the Planning Services Center.

This application can take up to 10 business days to complete.

Downtown business

The Centre City Enterprise Area (CCEA)
The CCEA is an area of downtown Calgary where the following changes to a business or a building are exempt from a development permit until July 1, 2020. See the map below for the CCEA boundaries.

  • A change of use when the proposed “use” is listed in the land use district. See below for a list of uses that still require a development permit.
  • An addition of less than 1,000 square meters, or modifying the exterior of an existing building. See below for a list of uses that still require a development permit. The building must also not be on the Inventory of historic resources for this exemption to apply.

Uses that require a development permit in the CCEA
The following uses require a development permit for a change of use, exterior renovation, or addition under 1000 square meters.

  • The proposed use is one of the following:
    • Cannabis counselling
    • Cannabis store
    • Custodial care
    • Home-based child care - Class 2
    • Liquor store
    • Nightclub
    • New outdoor café
    • Parking lot - grade
    • Pawn shop
    • Payday loan
    • Sign - Class B, C, D, E, F, and G
  • The subject building is within 30 metres of a freight rail corridor and the proposed use is one of the following:
    • Addiction treatment
    • Assisted living
    • Child care service
    • Dwelling unit
    • Emergency shelter
    • Home based child care – Class 2
    • Hospital
    • Jail
    • Residential care
    • Schools
    • Temporary shelter

CCEA boundaries

map of CCEA boundaries 

Home-based location

Your business will operate from your home within Calgary.

A home occupation permit is required for all home based businesses, depending on how you plan to operate, your business will either require a home occupation – class 1 or a home occupation – class 2 land use approval. Please read through the information below to determine which home occupation you will need for your business.

To determine the application fee, please see the Development permit/planning applications fee schedule​.

Home occupation - class 1

A home occupation – class 1 land use approval is for home based businesses that have little or no impact on the surrounding community. If your business follows the rules listed below, the application is approved and is valid for the entire time you operate your business from that location. If you move residences and continue to operate the business from the new location you will require a new home occupation approval.

General rules for home occupations - class 1

  • You must live in the home associated with the business.
  • Only two home occupation - class 1 businesses are allowed at the home.
  • Businesses can use up to 20 per cent of the floor area of the home or 30 square metres, whichever is less.
  • An accessory residential buil​ding​ cannot be used for the business.
  • No outside storage of material, goods or equipment can be on or near the site.
  • Businesses cannot be visible from the outside.
  • Businesses cannot create any kind of nuisance detectable from outside the home (e.g. electronic interference, dust, noise, odour, smoke, light).
  • Employees and business partners cannot work at the home, if they do not live at the home.
  • Maximum of three business related visits to the home per week.
  • No more than one commercial vehicle associated with the business can be parked at or near the home.
  • No large vehicles over 4,536 kilograms gross vehicle weight, associated with the business, can be parked or stored at or near the home.
  • You cannot directly sell goods at the home, unless they are incidental and related to the business service.
  • No form of advertising related to the business is allowed on the site.
  • The address of the home occupation cannot be advertised to the public.

Please note: If you cannot comply with the above rules, you must apply for a development permit for a home occupation - class 2.

Home occupation - class 2

A home occupation – class 2 land use approval is for businesses that have larger impact on the surrounding community than a home occupation – class 1, but still follow the rules below.

General rules for home occupations - class 2

  • You must live in the home associated with the business.
  • The business can use up to 20 per cent of the floor area of the home or 30 square metres, whichever is less.
  • The garage may be used for the business, provided it can still be used to park a vehicle.
  • There can be no outside storage of material, goods or equipment on or near the site.
  • The business cannot be visible from the outside.
  • The business cannot create any kind of nuisance detectable from outside the home (e.g. electronic interference, dust, noise, odour, smoke).
  • The business cannot generate traffic to and from the home that is outside normal patterns of neighbourhood activity.
  • There can be one employee or business partner working at the home who does not live at the home.
  • One commercial vehicle, with a maximum gross vehicle weight of 4,500 kg, used for business purposes, can be on the business property.
  • No vehicles with an enclosed cargo area greater than 17.5 cubic metres (618 cubic feet) are allowed at the home.
  • A minimum of one parking stall is required for the business, in addition to the motor vehicle parking stalls already required for the home.
  • The business can only have five business-associated vehicle visits per day and a maximum of 15 visits per week.
  • You cannot directly sell any goods at the premises, unless they are incidental and related to the service provided.
  • No form of advertising related to the business is allowed on the site.
  • The address of the home occupation cannot be advertised to the public.

As part of the development permit application review process, a sign will be placed on the property informing neighbours of the proposed business activity. Approval is not guaranteed and is granted at The City’s discretion. If the application is approved, it will be advertised in the local newspaper and members of the public may appeal the decision. If there are no appeals, the home occupation – class 2 permit will be released upon completion of the three week advertising period.

The timeline to process this application is about six to eight weeks.

If the application is approved it will be on a temporary basis and a new application must be made​ to renew the home occupation – class 2 prior to the expiration of the current one.

Based out of town

If your business will be based outside of Calgary’s city limits, but you will be conducting business within the city, your business is considered to be non-resident.

Non-resident businesses are required to pay an additional non-resident surcharge on top of standard licensing fees.

If you own commercial or residential property within Calgary, the non-resident surcharge may be waived. Contact the Planning Services Center​ for more information.

Mobile

Your business will operate on a mobile basis.

Mobile businesses are still required to have a base of operations. Typically this would be where the business completes paperwork and administrative activities.

If you are not going to be using a commercial space for these types of activities, your mobile business will be based from your home within Calgary.

Personal service

This business type is specific to security alarm agents, security consultants, massage practitioners, body rub practitioners, date or escorts, nude or semi-nude modelling and exotic entertainers.

Licences for this category are typically in the form of a photo identification card issued in person once required approvals are completed. You can begin the application process through your online myID account​.

What is required if I intend to make changes to my space?

If you are proposing to do construction to your space prior to operating, a building permit and other related trade permits will likely be required.

Please note: if a development permit is required, that must be applied for and approved prior to application acceptance of a building permit.

For information on building permit requirements, visit Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Will I be required to make changes to my space to meet any safety requirements?

Depending on how you are operating and your location, a building permit may be required for a new business or a business changing ownership, even if there is no construction planned. Upgrades to the space may be necessary to bring the space into compliance with the Alberta Building Code and all applicable health and safety standards.

For more information on when a building permit is typically required, visit Calgary.ca/commercial or contact the Planning Services Centre​.

Customer support

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Chat with us 403-268-5311
planninghelp@calgary.ca

Planning Services Centre,
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE
 
 
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