Accommodation and Lodging - business licensing
A municipal business licence is required for most businesses that provide a form of accommodation or lodging to the public.
Examples of businesses that do require a municipal business license:
- Apartment building operators (renting three or more units)
- Motor inn
Examples of businesses that do not require a municipal business license:
- Office building operator
- Bed and breakfast
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.
Rules and regulations
Apartment buildings converted to condominium units
When a person or corporation is the owner/operator of three or more units in an apartment building that has been converted to condominiums and those units are being rented, a business licence is required in the category of apartment building operator. This is because they are still in the business of providing rental accommodation. When there are multiple buildings, each building requires a business licence.
If a building has an entranceway on one side of it for two suites and an entranceway on the other side of the building for the other two suites, it is not considered an apartment building. If the building has one common entranceway for access to all four suites in the building, then it is considered an apartment building.
Short term rentals and lodging houses
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. 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.
|Licence Type||Land use||Police||Fire||Health||Provincial||AMVIC||ID card|
|Apartment Building Operator||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
|Hotel/Motel||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
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.
You can also refer to Commercial, industrial and mulit-residential for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to investigate land use approval for your business.
Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. However, if a business licence is for one, or any combination, of the low fire-risk licence types, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses will require to get the fire inspection within 30 days of their licence being issued.
Before you book your inspection, you must be ready for business, which means:
- Applicants must be in possession of the space/site
- The business is ready to serve customers (e.g. shelves are stocked and fixtures are in place)
It can take up to five business days for an inspector to visit the space, therefore you should call one week prior to being ready for business. See the Fire Department Business Licence Checklist to see what is required for your 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 is in addition to any inspection done by the firefighting division, such as the occupancy inspection completed on your building permit.
An Alberta Health Services (AHS) location inspection is required to ensure public safety. Any business involving the sale, preparation, manufacturing or storage of food products requires this inspection. Any business involved in personal service such as aesthetics or massage is also required to have this inspection. Contact AHS at 403-943-2296 for more information and to book a date.
Inspection results can be submitted:
- In person at the Planning Services Centre:
800 Macleod Trail S.E.
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If AHS advised you that your business type does not require a health inspection, please record the name of the individual you spoke with, their telephone number, and the reason provided. Please provide these details to The City’s Planning Services Centre.
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.
How to apply
If you need help when completing your application, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Obtaining your business licence
A business license will be issued when all outstanding approvals are complete. If you wish to inquire about the status of your licence, please contact the Planning Call Centre at 403-268-5311.
The authorized business licence will be sent to the applicant in the mail, or if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. When a commercial business is operational, the physical copy of your business licence must be posted in a highly visible location where the public can easily see it.
If you intend to make any changes to your business after receiving your licence, please visit Manage 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.
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.
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.
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 Service Alberta, Consumer Services at 1-780-427-4088 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.
Planning Services Centre
We are experiencing higher than normal volumes and longer wait times. We appreciate your patience while our agents answer your questions and review your applications.
If you are trying to reach us, please select only one method of contact for your inquiry. Multiple inquiry services at the same time can increase volumes and wait times. For applications, we encourage the use of our online system as the timelines for drop-off and online submissions are the same.
Monday - Friday*
8 a.m. - 4:15p.m. (Mountain Time Zone)
*closed on statutory holidays
COVID-19 changes to services