Other permits for businesses
A business may require other permits in addition to a business licence, depending on the type of business and location. Below is information on the most common types of additional permits. Visit special events for permit requirements, bylaw regulations and other information applicable to events on private property.
Outdoor patios add to the vibrancy of Calgary communities and are encouraged throughout the city, especially in our Main Streets areas. Rules for establishing and operating an outdoor patio is regulated by the Land Use Bylaw 1P2007, which defines an outdoor patio (or outdoor cafe) as “a use where food or beverages are served or offered for sale for consumption on a portion of the premises which are not contained within a fully enclosed building.” This web page contains information for business owners interested in establishing or expanding an outdoor patio, including adding a pop-up patio.
Most new outdoor patios (except those on Stephen Avenue or Barclay Mall) require a development permit (DP). If the outdoor patio/outdoor cafe crosses your property line and extends onto public property (like a pop-up patio), you will also require a licence of occupation (LOO). Additional permits, licences and inspections will be required depending on factors such as the extent and value of construction, amount of seating, whether alcohol is served, etc.
While new layout configurations and locations are considered during the review process, public safety, residential concerns and legal requirements are a priority. The City is required to limit the number of patios that occupy street parking spots and hinder pedestrian traffic.
Each project is unique and will have different approval requirements. As a first step, we recommend contacting our Planning Services Centre. We will arrange a pre-application meeting (simple) and our Community Planning team will help you with this process.
- Before investing in design plans, consult with neighbours, community groups and provincial regulators. Their input could influence your set up and alert you to possible future project concerns.
- When you have a rough layout, contact the Planning Service Centre to determine if you need a development permit, building permit, trades permit(s), fire inspection or an inspection for an occupant load card change. A development permit is one of the more common permits that may be required.
In addition, you may require all or some of the following approvals:
- development completion permit
- licence of occupation
- building occupancy permit
- outdoor patio category added to your business licence
- alcohol beverage sales licence
- Alberta Health Services inspection
There are numerous factors that influence required approvals. Some examples include:
- operation duration and seating capacity
- patio location
- on private property or city sidewalk/curb lane
- on Stephen Avenue or Barclay Mall
- temporary extension to an existing space or new space altogether
- construction scope including roof and walls, lights, heat or plumbing
- value of construction costs - $5,000 is a threshold
- type and nature of beverage and food offerings - will liquor service travel through an unlicenced area
- patron entrance and exit points
Prepare your application
- For a development permit (DP), you will need a site plan, floor plan and elevations, drawn to a professional drafting standard. Hiring an architect or designer is advised but not required. You will also need photos, certificates and other documents as listed in the Development Permit Application Requirement List.
- For a licence of occupation (LOO), many of the same documents will be required, plus detailed plans including road right-of-ways (ROW) and dimensions of street features. Contact the Planning Service Centre to set up a pre-application enquiry and talk with staff about the application requirements for your LOO.
Submit your application
Please contact our Planning Services Centre for more information on how to submit your development permit (DP) application.
If your application is approved
- The decision is advertised for 21 days, and public appeals are accepted. During this period, you can apply for a building permit (if required). If no appeals are submitted, the Development Permit is released.
- Following release, you can have the outdoor patio licence category added to your existing business licence (fee associated).
After the patio is built, you are required to schedule a development completion permit inspection. You will also have to schedule final inspections for any other permits that were issued (building, trades, etc.), along with Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission approvals.
- If you already have a business licence, you will require another licence to open a patio. You will need to have the outdoor patio licence category added to your existing business licence. Once this is done, you will just need to renew the whole licence on your regular schedule.
- If you would like to add on to your existing licenced patio (perhaps for a special event), a development permit is usually not required if the addition is set up for three days or less. If the event it is set up for more than three days, a Special Function Class 2 development permit is required.
- If you would like to place a table with a few chairs outside your establishment, a permit is required, even if you do not provide service to that table. A development permit and/or a licence of occupation is required when a business activity expands outside the building.
Generally, vendors wanting to set up in parks and public property outside of downtown are only permitted to operate as part of a major festival or event.
If your business wishes to participate in a City-approved festival or event on public roadways, pathways or parks, contact the festival organizers directly for permission.
Vendors at City-approved special events and festivals
If you are a vendor only participating in City-approved special events and festivals, you may not require a business licence. For operating requirements, visit Calgary Parks or email firstname.lastname@example.org for vendor pre-qualification details.
Booking park event space for your business
Businesses can book park space for special events or to allow for consistent access for organized activities (such as fitness classes) by obtaining a green space permit. These permits do not provide permission to sell services or allow vending within the park, nor do they provide exclusive use of the park space.
For more details or to book a park space, picnic site, meeting room or event facility, contact 311 or book through Parks.
Buskers provide street performances for public entertainment.
Visit Busking in Calgary for more information, including how to apply.
The City has requirements for signage based on the type of sign and its location. Below is an overview of sign types in Calgary.
Signs on private property
Signs cannot advertise the address or be placed in front of a home-based businesses.
Signs on private property are detailed and categorized by a classification list in the Land Use Bylaw.
Review the sign classes and rules before applying for a sign permit.
Signs on public property
Signs on public property, such as temporary signs, elections signs, garage sale signs, signs in parks and signs advertising a service must follow the Temporary Signs Bylaw rules.
A temporary sign cannot be:
- Closer than 30 metres to an intersection, City bus shelter, transit bench, bus zone, LRT station or LRT platform.
- Within 10 m of a crosswalk that is not at an intersection.
- Closer than 2 m from a curb or edge of road.
- On any traffic island or centre median.
- Obstructing a traffic control device.
- On any Prohibited or restricted roadway.
- Hazardous to traffic or pedestrians.
A temporary sign cannot be:
- Attached to a standard street light pole, traffic signal pole or a City sign pole (except for posters).
- Attached on or within a plus 15 bridge, pedestrian walkway or overpass.
- Attached to a sound wall.
- Permanently affixed.
- Supported by string, rope, metal stakes or wire.
- Damaging to municipal property.
In addition, a temporary sign is illegal if it:
- Is placed on a decorative lamp post.
- Could be a hazard to either the person erecting the sign or a member of the public.
- Has a sign face larger than 0.6 square metres (3 m2 for election signage).
- Is lit, electrified or inflatable.
- Becomes unsightly.
- Is placed on a fire hydrant.
- Is displayed for more than 14 days before or more than 24 hours following the date of the advertised event, whichever is less.
Election signs have certain exemptions from the Temporary Signs Bylaw.
Banner signs over roadways
Banners attached to a pedestrian overpass are applied through the Roads’ epermit system. A temporary banner over a roadway will be considered if it:
- Is promoting a non-profit, charitable cause or public event.
- Is requested a minimum of four months prior to the desired install date.
- The applicant provides:
- An insurance certificate.
- A Government of Alberta corporation non-profit search document.
- A scaled detail drawing of the banner that follows the design requirements.
For more information, visit banner over roadway permit.
Garage sale signs
Garage sales can have up to three signs posted. These signs can only be up on the day before the day of the sale. Garage sale signs must include the owners name, address, phone number and date the sign was posted.
Signs in parks
Signs for businesses or services are not allowed in parks.
A street use permit is required to use any City road right-of-way and is issued to reserve street space for construction, moving or filming. The street use permit allows the use of a street, sidewalk, alley, walkway, back lane, boulevard or traffic control set-up.
To apply for a street use permit, contact 311 or use the Roads’ online permit system (for registered users).
Pop-up and Interim land uses that are not food and/or alcohol-related can operate without a development permit or business licence if the land use is:
- listed in the district
- located on the ground floor of an existing building, and
- meets the maximum time frame
- does not have food and/or alcohol related activities
If health and safety are impacted, a building permit and/or fire inspection may be required.
Pop-up and Interim land uses that are food and/or alcohol-related, will always require a building permit and business licence. Businesses that involve in alcohol-related activities require an Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission (AGLC) licence. We recommend that you contact AGLC (1-800-272-887) in order to determine their requirements and timelines in advance.
To start your pop up or interim use application, submit a Tenancy Change application. For more information, please review the Tenancy change requirements list.
To find your land use designation, visit calgary.ca/myproperty and search on your address.
Pop-up vs. Interim uses
|Pop-up uses||Interim uses|
Four days maximum at a time, and maximum 50 days per year.
Land use designation:
Centre City: CC-MHX, CC-X, CC-COR and CR20
Maximum six months per year (consecutive or not).
Land use designation:
Centre City: CC-MHX, CC-X, CC-COP and CR20-C20
To confirm if your business activity meets one of the permitted uses, review the land use definition in Part 4 of the Land Use Bylaw, or contact the Planning Service Centre to set up a free pre-application meeting with a member of The City’s planning and development team. Meetings are typically scheduled within three days of request.