BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Contractor - business licencing

Step 1: Review


Do I need a business licence?

Contractor means the business of offering to perform or arrange to perform work involving an improvement.

Contractor businesses that do require a licence:

  • Builders
  • General contractors
  • Handyman services
  • Landscapers (i.e. building retaining walls, decks, gazebos, berms, raised beds, installing sprinkler systems, constructing paths, patios or sidewalks or planting/removing trees)
  • Specialty trade contractors, such as carpenters, electricians, gasfitters, plumbers, framers and welders
  • Excavation services and heavy-duty equipment operators

Contractor businesses that do not require a licence:

  • Lawn care and gardeners (i.e. cutting grass, raking leaves, trimming or grinding trees and hedges)
  • Snow removal
  • House movers
  • Christmas light installers
  • Architects, designers and developers (when not acting as a General contractor)
  • Master Electricians - (Certain conditions apply, review the Master Electricians with Member Association section, to determine your eligibility)

If you are unsure if your business activities will require a business licence, please contact the Planning Services Centre for assistance.

As part of The City’s efforts to accelerate the business license approvals process, customers with a myID business account can receive a digital copy of their business licence via email. This is available to customers applying for a new business licence or renewing an existing licence. To learn more about the benefits of a myID business account and to sign-up today, please visit myID business account (calgary.ca)

Do I need Provincial Licensing?

Provincial Licensing will be required if the business is:

Taking deposits/progress payments - before all work is done

Pre-paid contractor

  • A business that solicits, negotiates or concludes prepaid contracts in person at any place other than the sellers’ place of business, and
  • Accepts money (i.e. progress payments and deposits) before all the work is done and/or the services are provided

For more information visit Prepaid contracting licence - Government of Alberta or contact Service Alberta at 1-877-427-4088 on Provincial licensing requirements.

Door to door sales

Direct seller

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

For more information visit Direct sellers licence - Government of Alberta to review the licensing requirements.

 

New home builder

Provincial builder’s licence

  • Required for all residential home builders. This applies to any contractor who is constructing new single-family homes, multi-family buildings (i.e. townhouse, condominium, etc.), as well as renovations to residential construction projects that require new home warranty coverage.

For more information visit New home warranty – Builder licensing - Government of Alberta to review the Provincial Builder’s Licence processes and fees.

What is a City Qualified Trade (CQT)?

To pull trade permits, a business is required to register as a City Qualified Trade (CQT) and get a Contractor business licence. You need to apply for a business licence before you apply for a CQT, apply in step 3 below.

Trade qualification

Electrical

Allowable Permit Types City Trade Qualification Required
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Electrical Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Master Electrician
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Electrical Permit (Fire Alarm) City Trade Qualification Required: Master Electrician
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Annual Electrical Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Electrician

Master Electricians with Member Association

The provincial Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act legislates that master electricians are exempt from municipal licensing, provided they:

  • hold current trade qualifications as a Master Electrician
  • are the sole proprietors of their business (corporations and partnerships do not qualify)
  • are members in good standing with the ECAA (Electrical Contractors Association of Alberta) as a Professional Electrical Contractor (PEC)
  • do not employ or sub-contract other individuals
  • do not act as a general contractor at any time

All of these conditions must apply to the electrician in order to be exempt from municipal licensing. If all the conditions are met, email the Business Licence & Registration (BLR) team at businessregistry@calgary.ca to start your application.

Plumbing

Allowable Permit Types City Trade Qualification Required
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Plumbing Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Plumber
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Plumbing Permit (Hydronic) City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Plumber
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Plumbing Permit (CCCD Permit) City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Plumber or CCCD Installer
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Private Sewage Disposal System Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Private Sewage Technician

Gas

Allowable Permit Types City Trade Qualification Required
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Gas Permit  City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Gasfitter
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Gas Permit (Meter relocation) City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Gasfitter
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Furnace Replacement Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Gasfitter or Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker
​Allowable Permit Types: ​​Allowable Permit Types: Gas Fireplace Installation Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Gasfitter, Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker or Gas Fireplace Installer

Mechanical

Allowable Permit Types City Trade Qualification Required
​Allowable Permit Types: ​HVAC Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Journeyman Sheet Metal Worker
​Allowable Permit Types: AFE Permit City Trade Qualification Required: AFE Installer
​Allowable Permit Types: ​Geoexchange Permit City Trade Qualification Required: Geoexchange Installer

How long will it take to get a business licence?

The timeline to obtain City approval for a business licence or registration can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required for your business type and location. This is why it is important to understand what your business will require prior to making any long-term commitments to a space.

Do not sign your lease agreements until you have checked your space.

Step 2: Prepare


Use the information below to prepare your business licence application. Follow the business licence checklist below to help make sure your application meets the City's requirements.

Know your business activities

Understanding the details of how your business will operate, will determine the licence types of your business licence, and permit requirements. For example, will your contracting business accept deposits from homeowners prior to the work being complete? Or, will your restaurant business sell alcohol or retail products, such as drinking glasses or t-shirts? Once you have determined how your business will operate, you will need to determine the location of business.

A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each location. Keep in mind, each location may require a different combination of land use approval types.

Do not sign your lease agreements until you have checked your space.

Check your space

Check your space Businesses are location specific, so each business location will require planning approval in order to obtain a business licence. Check your space to plan for the fees and timelines associated with your specific business location. The sections below discuss the potential permits by location type:

Fees

Business licence Fee schedule New licence Police check Fire inspection Total
Contractor

Business licence fee schedule

$172

$65 + $55 per additional director/owner.

Example (If you have 3 directors): $65 + $55 + $55 = $175

$104

$382

(add $55 for each additional director)

You are the first tenant going into a unit in a new building

In most cases, a development permit and a building permit are required. The development permit must be approved and released before the building permit can be issued. Your business land use approval will be granted when you have completed all building permit inspections.

Development Permit

Contact the Planning Services Centre to determine the current approved ‘use’ for your proposed address. Every unit in a new building will have an approved ‘use’, even before the first tenant goes in.

A change of use development permit could be required if your proposed business activities do not match the current approved ‘use’ in the unit.

Your business ‘use’ may be listed as permitted or discretionary at your proposed location, or it could be listed as permitted but one of the rules requires a relaxation.

Fees

​Planning Approval Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total
​Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

​$0 - $0*
​Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

​$0 ​$0 $0*
*Change of Use fees are waived until December 31, 2021

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Our process Timeline
​ Permitted Change of Use - 5 business days
​ Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use 60 days to decision 21 days advertisement/appeal period 10-12 weeks

*Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process.

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Development Permit 1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

Building Permit

If you are the first tenant going into a unit in a new building, a building permit will always be required.

Even if you are not proposing any construction, since you are the first tenant, a building permit application is required. Upgrades to the space may be necessary to bring it into compliance with the Alberta Building Code and all applicable health and safety standards. For example, this can include required upgrades to the existing HVAC system in the building, or upgrades to the fire rating of walls.

For more information about your business activity and the associated building permit code classification, visit Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits. For more information about when a building permit is typically required, visit Calgary.ca/commercial or contact the Planning Services Centre​.​​​​

Fees

  Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total
Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule

Varies

​​Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Timeline
Commercial Building Permit 21 business days

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Building Permit 180 days until you require a progress inspection

You are a new tenant

There was a different business using this space and now your business will be taking over, OR you are a new tenant, but you will be sharing the space with an existing tenant

A Tenancy Change, Development Permit, and/or Building Permit may be required.

Tenancy Change

Contact the Planning Services Centre to determine the current approved ‘use’ for your proposed address.

If your business activities fall under the same ‘use’, typically a Tenancy Change application is required. Please note, during this review, we may determine a Development Permit and/or a Building Permit is required instead or in addition to the Tenancy Change application.

Businesses located in the Centre City Enterprise Area (CCEA) or Main Street Exemption Areas, often require a Tenancy Change application instead of a Development Permit Change of Use. Visit The Centre City Enterprise and Main Street Exemption Area for more information and to determine if your location is applicable.

  • If a Tenancy Change application is required, it can be applied for at the same time as a new business licence application or building permit, online or in person at the Planning Services Centre.
  • Please see the checklist for a Tenancy Change.

Fees

​Planning Approval Fee schedule ​​Total
​Tenancy Change

Planning applications fee schedule

$0

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Timeline
Tenancy Change 10 business days

Development permit

A change of use development permit could be required if your proposed business activities do not match the current approved ‘use’ in the unit.

Your business ‘use’ may be listed as permitted or discretionary at your proposed location, or it could be listed as permitted but one of the rules requires a relaxation.

See if your business ‘use’ is listed as permitted or discretionary at your proposed location: 

Find your land use district

Now, find your land use district at the top of the Listed use matrix, and see if your business ‘use’ (listed on the left hand column) is possible in your district. This will be indicated by a * . If your business ‘use’ is possible in your land use district, use the Land Use Bylaw to find your district and see if the ‘use’ is listed as either permitted or discretionary. Sometimes, even if your business ‘use’ is listed as permitted, your business activities require a relaxation of the rules.

 

Fees

​Planning Approval Fee schedule Permit fee Advertising fee ​​Total
​Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$190 - $190
Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$594 $30 $624

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Our process Timeline
Permitted Change of Use - 5 business days
Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use 60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period 10-12 weeks

Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process

For more information about your business activity and the associated 'use', contact the Planning Services Centre.

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Development Permit 1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

Building Permit

A building permit may be required, depending on the last approved business activities in the space, or if you are proposing alterations.

Even if you are not proposing any construction, upgrades to the space may be necessary to bring it into compliance with the Alberta Building Code and all applicable health and safety standards. For example, this can include required upgrades to the existing HVAC system in the building, or upgrades to the fire rating of walls. For more information about when a building permit is typically required, visit Calgary.ca/commercial or contact the Planning Services Centre​.​​​​

For more information about your business activity and the associated building permit code classification, visit Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Fees

  Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total
Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule

Varies

Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Timeline
Commercial Building Permit 21 business days

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Building Permit 180 days until you require a progress inspection

You are an existing tenant

You are an existing tenant. You have pre-existing approval for this space, but are making changes to operations

Contact the Planning Services Centre to determine if the changes in operations will require new approvals.

A Tenancy Change, Development Permit and/or Building Permit may be required.

Tenancy Change

Contact the Planning Services Centre to determine the current approved ‘use’ for your proposed address.

If your business activities fall under the same ‘use’ typically a Tenancy Change application is required. Please note, during this review, we may determine a Development Permit and/or a Building Permit is required instead, or in addition to the Tenancy Change application.

Businesses located in the Centre City Enterprise Area (CCEA) or Main Street Exemption Areas, often require a Tenancy Change application instead of a Development Permit Change of Use. Visit The Centre City Enterprise and Main Street Exemption Area for more information and to determine if your location is applicable.

Fees

​Planning Approval Fee schedule ​​Total
​Tenancy Change

Planning applications fee schedule

$0

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Timeline
Tenancy Change 10 business days

Development Permit

A change of use or new development permit could be required if your proposed changes to business activities do not fall under the current approved ‘use’.


Fees

​Planning Approval Fee schedule Permit fee Advertising fee ​​Total
​Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$190 - $190
Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule

$594 $30 $624

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Our process Timeline
Permitted Change of Use - 5 business days
Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use 60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period 10-12 weeks

Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process

For more information about your business activity and the associated 'use', contact the Planning Services Centre.

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Development Permit 1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

Building Permit

A building permit may be required, depending on the last approved business activities in the space, or if you are proposing alterations.

Even if you are not proposing any construction, upgrades to the space may be necessary to bring it into compliance with the Alberta Building Code and all applicable health and safety standards. For example, this can include required upgrades to the existing HVAC system in the building, or upgrades to the fire rating of walls. For more information about when a building permit is typically required, visit Calgary.ca/commercial or contact the Planning Services Centre​.​​​​

For more information about your business activity and the associated building permit code classification, visit Alberta Building Code for commercial building permits.

Fees

  Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total
Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule

Varies

Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

Timelines

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information as indicated on the checklist.

Permit Type Timeline
Commercial Building Permit 21 business days

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Building Permit 180 days until you require a progress inspection

Home based location


Your business will be run from your home in Calgary. You may have a desk/telephone operation, complete your paperwork at home, or you may have customers coming to your home to be considered a home based business.

Planning approval - home occupation

If your business will be run from your home in Calgary, a home occupation permit is required. There are two types of home occupation permits. If you do not comply with all of the home occupation class 1 rules, you will require a home occupation class 2.

Please review the table below to determine which type of home occupation permit you will need. 

    Home occupation class 1   Home occupation class 2
You live in the home associated with the business: Yes Yes
The number of business related visits to your home per week: 0 - 3 max. 4 - 15
The garage or related structure is used for the business: Note, a small storage area that is not impacting parking may be allowed for either. No     Yes
A large vehicle (over 4,536 kg gross vehicle weight) is parked/stored at or near the home: No Yes
Employee or business partner working at your home (that does not also live there): 0 1
Your business is food-related, and you are using a kitchen in your home: No Yes

*This table is for convenience only and does not include everything listed in our Land Use Bylaw. Please review the full list of rules located in the Land Use Bylaw section 207 “Home Occupation – Class 1” and section 208 “Home Occupation – Class 2.”

Fees

Business licence Fee schedule ​New licence ​Police check ​​Total
​Contractor

Business licence fee schedule

​$172 $65 +$55 per additional director/owner Example: If you have 3 directors ($65 + $55 + $55) = $175 $237.00 + $55 for each additional director
​Planning Approval Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total
​Home occupation class 1

Planning applications fee schedule

​- - $0
​Home occupation class 2

Planning applications fee schedule

​$449 ​$32 $481

Timelines

The timeline to obtain City approval for a business licence or registration can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required for your business type and location. 

To avoid delays, make sure your application includes all the required documents, plans and information.

Permit Type Our process Timeline
​Home occupation class 1 - 5 business days
​Home occupation class 2 60 days to decision 21 days advertisement/appeal period 10-12 weeks

Review our Development Permit Process page for more information about the planning approval process.

Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Police check 2-3 weeks
Provincial licensing

Contact Service Alberta to discuss timelines for provincial licensing, 

How to proceed with completing your approvals can be found in Step 6: Approvals.

Expiry

Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. You will get a notice in the mail 45 days before your licence expires to notify you of the expiry date. To renew your license, see licence renewals.

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Home occupation class 1

No expiry

​Home occupation class 2

Varies, refer to your permit’s conditions of approval for the expiration

Business licence 365 days

Building permit (if applicable)

Some home based business activities may also require a commercial building permit. For example, a home based baking business will require a home occupation class 2 and a commercial building permit. For more information about commercial building permits, see the Building permit  section below.

Fees

  Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total
Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule

Varies

Please use the Building permit fee calculator​ to estimate your fee.

Timelines

Permit Type Timeline
Commercial Building Permit 21 business days

Expiry

Permit Type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Building Permit 180 days until you require a progress inspection


Based Out of Town


Your business will be based outside of Calgary, but you will be conducting business within the City of Calgary.

If your business will be based outside of the City of Calgary limits, but you will be conducting business within the City of Calgary, your business is considered ‘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 Centre​ for more information.

Fees

Business licence Fee schedule ​New licence ​Police check Non Resident Surcharge ​​Total
​Contractor

Business licence fee schedule

​$172

$65 +$55 per additional director/owner

Example: If you have 3 directors ($65 + $55 + $55) = $175

    $768 $1005 + $55 for each additional director

Timelines

The timeline to obtain City approval for a business licence or registration can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required for your business type and location. This is why it is important to understand what your business will require prior to making any long-term commitments to a space. 

Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Police check 2-3 weeks
Provincial licensing Contact the Government of Alberta to discuss timelines for provincial licensing

Expiry

Business licenses expire one year from the issuance date. You will get a notice in the mail 45 days before your licence expires to notify you of the expiry date. To renew your licence, see licence renewals.

Permit type Expiry (from date of issuance)
Business licence 365 days

Know your ownership

Determining your business ownership is something you must complete prior to registering a business with The City. The basic business ownership categories are listed below.

The business is owned by you, under your name

Sole Proprietorship

This is the simplest way to set up a business. A sole proprietor is fully responsible for all debts and obligations related to his or her business. A creditor with a claim against a sole proprietor has a right against all of his or her assets, whether business or personal. This is known as unlimited liability.

This type of business comes under provincial jurisdiction. If the proprietor chooses to carry on a business under a name other than his or her own, he or she must register their tradename with the province. This registration will be valid for a certain number of years.

If a sole proprietor establishes a business in his or her own name, without adding any other words, it is not necessary to register the business with the province at the registry office.

 

The business is owned by a company

Corporation

A corporation is a legal entity that is separate from its owners, the shareholders. No shareholder of a corporation is personally liable for the debts, obligations or acts of the corporation. This type of business can be incorporated at either the federal or provincial level.

A corporation is identified by the terms Limited, Ltd, Incorporated, Inc, Corporation or Corp. Whatever the term, it must appear with the corporate name on all documents, stationery, and so on, as it appears on the incorporation document.

Private corporation: A private corporation can be formed by one or more people. A majority of its directors must be Canadian residents. If none of the directors reside in the province in which it does business, the corporation must appoint a power of attorney who resides in the province. A private corporation cannot sell shares or securities to the general public.

Public corporation: A public corporation issues securities for public distribution. Besides filing incorporation documents, a public corporation must file a prospectus with the appropriate Securities Commission in the province, must employ outside auditors and must distribute semi-annual financial statements.

Federal corporations: Private and public corporations may be incorporated federally under the Canadian Corporations Act. A firm operating nationally or in several provinces may find this advantageous.

Extra provincial corporation

If a company is incorporated federally or provincially outside of Alberta, the Province of Alberta requires the business to be registered extra-provincially to carry on business. As per Alberta's Business Corporations Act, any corporation formed outside of Alberta must register as an extra-provincial corporation within thirty days of commencing business.

This applies to:

  • Companies incorporated federally
  • Companies incorporated in a different province
  • Limited and limited liability partnerships
  • Companies incorporated in the United States

For more information visit New home warranty – Builder licensing - Government of Alberta to review the Provincial Builder’s Licence processes and fees.

The business will be a partnership

Partnership

A partnership is an agreement in which two or more persons combine their resources in a business. To establish the business terms and to protect partners/shareholders, an agreement should be drawn up with the assistance of a lawyer. Partners share in the profits according to the terms of their agreement.

General partnership: All members share the management of the business and each is personally liable for all the debts and obligations of the business. This means that each partner is responsible for and must assume the consequences of the actions of the other partner(s).

Limited partnership: Some members are general partners who control and manage the business and may be entitled to a greater share of the profits, while other partners are limited partners and contribute only capital. Limited partners take no part in control or management and are only liable for debts to a specified extent.

Limited liability partnership: This type of partnership consists of partners in eligible professions such as optometry, medical practice, accounting or law. Unlike a general partnership, a limited liability partnership protects uninvolved partners from personal liability arising from the negligence, wrongdoing, or misconduct of a partner, employee, agent or representative of the partnership that occurs in the ordinary course of the practice of the particular profession. Partners in a limited liability partnership may be individual practitioners or professional corporations.

 

Register Your Business Name

A business name, or trade name, is used to represent your business to the public. Registering a trade name means that you let the province know you are using that name. Trade names can be registered at any Alberta registry. For more information, visit: https://www.alberta.ca/business-names.aspx

While it is not a requirement to register a trade name for a municipal licence, it may be required to obtain a bank account in your company name. Corporations and registered partnerships will automatically register the tradenames when they register the corporation or partnership with the province.

While a trade name registration does not grant ownership of the name, it allows you to have proof that the name you chose is associated with your business. ​

Step 3: Apply


To apply online, you need a myID account. Create a myID account.

Apply in person

Once you have gathered all required documents, you can apply for your permit in person by visiting the Planning Services Centre.

To skip the line, book an appointment.

Step 4: Track


After you submit your application online, you will get a confirmation email with a Job Access Code (JAC).

To track your application and check its status, enter your Job Access Code in Vista.

If you need help or have questions, contact our Planning Services Centre

Step 5: Change


For more information about changing your business, contact our Planning Services Centre

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

For more information about changing your business, contact our Planning Services Centre.

Step 6: Approvals


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

Home based location

Licence Type Planning approval Police check Provincial licence Show ID

Contractor

Required

Required

May be required

Required

Commercial based location

Licence Type Planning approval Police check Fire Provincial licence Show ID

Contractor

Required

Required

Required

May be required

Required

Out of town

Licence Type Police check Provincial licence Show ID

Contractor

Required

May be required

Required

Planning approval

Planning approval

The City of Calgary we will need to review your proposed location and determine what approvals are required to operate legally and safely. All businesses in Calgary require planning approval before they can open. To review what types of Planning approval are required for your business, refer to the Check your location section.

Police check

Police check

This licence type requires recommendation by the Calgary Police Service through the Police Information Checks unit. This is an internal process that is completed automatically by the Calgary Police Service and is initiated on your behalf through your business licence application.  

Previous police checks cannot be used as a substitute for this approval process.

Business Licence Approval Type Timeline
Police check Approximately 2-3 weeks

Show ID

You are required to provide two pieces of valid, government issued identification, one of which must contain photo identification (ID). When you apply for your licence online, you will be required to upload your ID.

Acceptable forms of government issued photo identification may include:

  • driver’s license
  • passport
  • permanent resident card

Acceptable forms of government issued identification include:

  • provincial health care card
  • birth certificate
  • marriage certificate

Provincial licensing approval (if applicable)

Business Licence approval type Timeline
Provincial licensing

Contact Service Alberta to discuss timelines for provincial licensing.

Certain business activities require provincial licensing in addition to your municipal business license. These activities have been identified as licence types on the chart above (see required approvals chart).

Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) and provide details of the licence types you are currently applying for with The City of Calgary. Service Alberta will direct you to the appropriate provincial contact which will provide further direction in regard to fulfilling the provincial licensing requirements necessary for obtaining your municipal business licence.

Provincial licenses must be submitted to The City’s licence division to obtain the municipal license.

You can present your provincial licence:

  • In person at the Planning Services Centre:
    3rd floor
    800 Macleod Trail S.E.
    Calgary, AB

Fire inspection (if applicable)

Fire inspection (if applicable)

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)
Business Licence approval type Timeline
Fire inspection 5 business days

To book your inspection, you must contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence. 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.​​​​​

Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Assessment

A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is established by businesses in an area to jointly raise and administer funds for various projects and promotional activities within the zone throughout the year. Businesses located in a BIA will receive a BIA tax bill. This levy is collected by The City of Calgary on behalf of the BIA.

In an effort to help businesses in our communities, business tax was eliminated in 2019.

Data created when businesses open, move, change ownership or close is important in maintaining accurate assessment records to determine the amount of business improvement area (BIA) tax.

Businesses may be liable for two types of taxes: business improvement area (BIA) tax and property tax.

Business Improvement Area (BIA) tax

Business improvement area (BIA) tax is billed annually to any business that occupies commercial space within an established business improvement area (BIA) in Calgary. It does not reflect a specific type of business or the profit of a business.

Property tax

Property tax is paid by landowners and is based on the assessed property value.

Special cases

  • Home-based businesses: Home-based businesses do not pay business improvement area (BIA) tax, as they do not occupy a commercial space.
  • Non-resident businesses: Non-resident businesses do not pay business improvement area (BIA) tax or Calgary property tax, as they are not located within the municipality. This is the primary reason for the non-resident surcharge being added to these business licences.
  • Subtenant businesses: Subtenant businesses may or may not be responsible for paying business improvement area (BIA) tax, depending on the lease agreement.

For more information on the administration or collection of business improvement area (BIA) and property taxes, visit Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tax or contact 311.​​​​​​​​​​

 


Planning Services Centre

Hours:
Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:15p.m. (MT)

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

Drop-off:
3rd floor, Municipal building
800 Macleod Trail SE

Click before you dig

Always contact Utility Safety Partners before you dig. Submit a locate request online or call 1-800-242-3447 for more information.

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