Open a food production business

Open a food production business

Learn about licensing requirements, fees, timelines, permits and approvals you need to open your business

Before you apply

Do you need to register your business?

All businesses operating in Calgary are encouraged to register their business with The City of Calgary.

All businesses operating from a location in Calgary are required to obtain location approval for their business, even if a licence is not required. Location approval helps ensure that the space you are operating has been approved for your business and is safe for all occupants.

If your business requires a business licence, registration will occur at the same time as applying for your licence. If you wish to register your business with the City of Calgary, please apply online.

Do you need a business licence?

Yes. Businesses that produce food require a business licence.

Food production businesses include:

  • Aeroponics – the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate mediumAeroponics
  • Aquaponics - an integrated system where waste created by fish is used to supply nutrients to hydroponically grown plants, which in turn clean the water and return it to the fish.Aquaponics
  • Aquaculture* - the farming of fish, crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants, algae, and other aquatic organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.Aquaculture* – only allowed in Industrial – General (I-G) and Industrial – Heavy (I-H) districts.
  • Hydroponics - the cultivation of plants in a solution of circulating, nutrient rich water rather than soil.Hydroponics
  • Modular/freight farms - portable pre-built commercial food production system in a freight container like structure.
  • Vertical farming - where plants are grown in layers or on vertical surfaces, allowing tall buildings, warehouses or even shipping containers to be used to grow food. Hydroponics are often used in vertical growing systems.

Food production includes:

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • mushrooms
  • flowers
  • fiber
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • seedlings
  • herbs
  • fish
  • insects*

* Only allowed in Industrial – General (I-G) and Industrial – Heavy (I-H) districts and cannot be located next to residential land use districts.. To find out your land use district, see the location approval section and enter your address into the search.

It includes management practices and activities such as:

  • cultivation
  • harvesting
  • storing
  • sorting
  • cleaning

Food production does not include:

  • Products regulated by the Controlled Drug and Substances Act (e.g. cannabis). For information on growing cannabis, visit open a cannabis facility.

  • Bees – The City of Calgary does not have jurisdiction over bees or beekeeping. This is governed by the province’s Bee Act. The act provides guidelines regarding the collection, care, and registration of bees. For questions about beekeeping, refer to the province's Apiculture page or the Calgary Beekeepers Association.

If you don’t know if your business requires a business licence, contact the Planning Services Centre for assistance.

What are your business activities?

Your business activities will determine what's required to open your business:

  • if you need a business licence
  • what licence types you need
  • what permits you may need 

Examples of different licence types you may need: 

Example Licence types
If you're selling any food products or products containing edible items.

You will need a Food Services – Premises licence.

If you manufacture, assemble or produce any non-food products for sale to the public? (Including flower/basket arrangements).

You may need a Manufacturing licence.

If you direct, manage or coordinate the distribution and sale of goods (including food products) or are engaged in warehousing and wholesale.

You may need a Warehousing licence.

These licence types will be generated as part of your application when you apply. You do not need to apply for them separately.

If your business fits into more than one licence type, you do not need to get multiple approvals. For example, you only need one Fire inspection even if it is required by all of your different licence types.

How much does a Business Licence Cost?

When setting up a new licence, applicable fees apply. Fees are based on the type of licence you need and whether your business is home-based or commercial-based. Business licence fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. Fees are subject to change the next calendar year. 

Commercial based business
Business licence Fee schedule ​New licence ​Fire Planning Total
Food Service - Premises

Business licence fee schedule

​$172 $107 $41 $317

Business licence fee schedule

$172 $107 $41 $317

Business licence fee schedule

$172 $107 $41 $317

How do you pay for your licence?

You need to pay for your licence when you submit your application. If you are applying online, you can pay using​.

What permits do you need?

Understanding what approvals will be required will help ensure you will be able to open your business with ease and on time. Your business may require Planning Approval or Building Safety Approval, or both in order to be approved to operate from your selected location.

These approvals are based on:

  • the location of the business,
  • the proposed business activities
  • how the space was used before your business.

To learn more about what permits you may need, see the location approval section.

How long will it take to process your application?

The timeline to get a business licence or registration can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required.

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


Do not sign your lease agreements until you have checked your location approval. We recommend applying for your Location Approval and Building Safety Approvals before applying for your licence.

Commercial based location timelines

What is the name of your business?

A business name, or trade name, is used to represent your business to the public. You may wish to register your trade name with the province. Read more in Opening a business in Calgary: Register your Trade Name.

Who will own the business?

  • Sole proprietor – one person owns the business
  • Partnership – agreement between two or more people or companies
  • Corporation – a legal entity that is separate from its owners, the shareholders

Where is your business located?

All businesses need to provide a location that is approved for their specific business activities. Review the location approval section to make sure your business activities are allowed at your chosen location.

If you’re running your business from more than one location, you need a separate business licence for each location. Each location may require a different combination of permits to satisfy your location approval requirement.

Example Type of use
Your business will grow and produce food inside of a building.

Your business will be considered as Food production. 

Your business will have a small-scale outdoor area to grow plants for a commercial purpose.

Your business will be considered as Urban Agriculture.

Your business will grow plants, such as trees and shrubs, raise crops or graze livestock outdoors.

Your business will be considered as Extensive Agriculture.

Growing plants outdoors

Businesses that grow plants outdoors for a commercial purpose are considered an “urban agriculture” use in the Land Use Bylaw.

Urban Agriculture activities do not need a development permit where there is:

  • No required landscaping being removed;
  • No local food sales on-site; and
  • Where there is a maximum of one ancillary building 10 square metres or less (e.g. a small shed that does not require a building permit).

You will need a development and building permit if:

  • The greenhouse or other accessory building is larger than 10 square meters;
  • You will be selling food on the property; or
  • There are two or more additional accessory buildings under 10 square meters. Visit the New Commercial Buildings page for more information.

Examples of small-scale outdoor food production include:

  • A local vegetable garden on a vacant parcel.
  • Growing food on the roof-top of a restaurant.

Removing required property landscaping

If you are planning to remove previously approved landscaping on a property to make room for a new urban agriculture growing area, a development permit is required.

Local food sales

As part of Urban Agriculture, you will need a development permit to sell food grown on-site. This process will review the location, hours of operation and other rules and policies that apply.

If the local food sales are occurring on City-owned land or City-owned facilities, you may be exempt from a development permit with permission by The City, but the location, hours of operation and other policies will still be determined through this permission process.

Location approval

Commercial based location

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

Planning and Building Safety approvals

What is planning approval?

Part of your location approval confirms that your business is allowed to operate from your chosen location. The Land Use Bylaw specifies a list of allowable uses for each land use district based on what the intent is for that location, which will be listed as either permitted or discretionary. If the use is not listed in a land use district, the business will not be allowed to operate from that location. 

Permitted or Discretionary? What’s the difference?

In the Land Use Bylaw, Uses are defined as either being Permitted or Discretionary in a Land Use District.


Permitted means that, if a use meets all the rules of the bylaw, it must be approved.  The uses listed as permitted were intended for this location and have little to no impact on the surrounding community.


Permitted with Relaxation means a use that is permitted but requires a relaxation of one of more bylaw rules. Evaluations are done on a case-by-case basis to determine if the relaxation is appropriate and how it impacts the surrounding community.


Discretionary use means that the use needs to be reviewed and is evaluated against several factors including applicable policies, appropriateness of the location, the compatibility of the use with others in the surrounding area, access, parking, servicing, and sound planning principles. Each submission is reviewed on its own merit at the time of application as discretionary uses have a higher impact on the surrounding community.

How your business operates will determine what use or uses best fit your business. Types of planning approval include Tenancy Change, Permitted Change of Use, Permitted with Relaxation Change of Use, and Discretionary Change of Use.

What is building safety approval?

Your business will also be reviewed for safe operations. Based on how the commercial building is constructed and the types of tenants it is designed for, a building will have a classification and occupancy based on the National Building Code – Alberta Edition.

Even if you are not planning any construction or changes to the space, the change in business activities may require a building permit application to review the safety of the space and bring it into compliance with the National Building Code – Alberta Edition. If required, you will need to apply for a Building Permit.


Before you lease a space, it’s important to determine if the use or uses are listed at a proposed business location, if a use isn’t listed in a land use district, it’s not allowed in that district.


If a use is not listed, you could apply for a Land Use Redesignation, or look for another location for your business.

Look up your land use district on the listed use matrix to determine if your proposed business activities are listed in your district.

How will you occupy the space?

Once you’ve confirmed your business activities are a listed use in a Land Use District, you need to determine how you will be occupying the space, to see which permits you might need to satisfy your Location Approval.

Contact the Planning Services Centre if you are not sure what approvals your business will require from your chosen location.

You are taking over a previously occupied space

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.

You will need one or more of the following:

  • Tenancy Change: how the space is used is not changing, but the tenant is changing or taking over the existing business with no changes, for example: Retail to Retail. No construction is being done.
  • Development Permit: use of the space is changing, for example: Retail to Restaurant.
  • Building Permit: you will be doing construction, or the space needs to be reviewed for safety and be brought into compliance with the National Building Code – Alberta Edition.
  • Trade Permits: may be required if plumbing, electrical or HVAC work is required.

This is a new building, and you will be the first tenant in the space

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

You will need:

  • Building Permit: new buildings will have approval for the base building, a BP will be required for the individual tenant fit outs to complete the space
  • Trade Permits: you will need any additional trade permits for plumbing, electrical or HVAC work within your individual unit

You may need:

  • Development Permit: new building owners will get approval for the base building and new businesses often require a separate development permit for their business.

You are currently occupying the space and changing your business activities

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

You may need one or more of the following:

  • Tenancy Change: to confirm if the proposed new business activities will match the existing approvals
  • Development Permit: if you’re changing the way the space is being used, you may need a Development Permit.
  • Building Permit: if you will be doing construction, or the changes require a building safety review to confirm compliance with the National Building Code – Alberta Edition
  • Trade Permits: may be required if plumbing, electrical or HVAC work is being done or is required to satisfy Safety Code Requirements.

Contact the Planning Services Centre if you are unsure if the changes in operations will require new approvals.

What different types of permits might be required?

Development Permit

You may need a development permit to operate from your preferred location if your proposed business activities do not match the current approved use. This is called a change of use development permit. You  may need a development permit for other reasons, including some exterior and interior changes to the space.

Sometimes, even if your business is listed as permitted, your business activities require a relaxation to the bylaw rules. This is considered permitted with relaxation change of use and takes longer to process than a permitted change of use.

Contact the Planning Services Centre if you are unsure if the changes in operations will require new approvals.

How to apply

You can apply for your Change of Use Development Permit before, at the same time as, or after your business licence (Licence) application. We recommend applying before your Licence.


Sample drawings

Review the sample drawings​ to help prepare your application.

Fees, timelines and expiry

​Permit Type Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total Our Process Timeline  Expiry

Permitted Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule





5 business days

1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

Permitted with Relaxation or Discretionary Change of Use

Planning applications fee schedule




60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period

*timelines are subject to change based on circulation requirements

10-12 weeks

1-3 years to commence depending on the type of development permit and land use district

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

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

Contact the Planning Services Center to determine the current approved "use" for your proposed address.

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.

How to apply

If a Tenancy Change application is required, you can apply for it at the same time as a new business licence application or building permit, apply online or in person at the Planning Services Centre.


Tenancy Change

Fees and timelines

​Permit Type Fee schedule ​​Total Timeline

Tenancy Change

Planning applications fee schedule


Approximately 10 business days

Building Permit

A building permit will be required if you are making changes to your space, including adding, moving, or removing wall partitions. Even if you are not proposing any construction, you might still need a building permit to confirm that the space meets the required Safety Codes. Upgrades to the space may be necessary to bring it into compliance with the National Building Code - Alberta Edition and all applicable health and safety standards. A building permit confirms that your space is safe to operate your business from.

How to apply

You can apply before, at the same time as, or after your business licence application. You can submit Building permit details and drawings online or in person at 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. For more information about when a building permit is typically required, visit or contact the Planning Services Centre​.​​​​

Fees, Timelines and Expiry

 Permit Type Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total Timeline Expiry (from date of issuance)

Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule


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

Varies based on complexity 180 days until you require a progress inspection

Trade Permits

You may require a trade permit if you are doing any upgrades or new in a specific trade. This can include required upgrades to the existing HVAC system in the building, changes or upgrades to plumbing, electrical and gas systems. A trade permit confirms that the work being done complies with the appropriate safety codes.

Commercial Trade Permit applications must be done by the appropriate licensed Trade Contractor. Visit Hiring a Contractor for information on what to look for when choosing a contractor.


Prepare your application

Once you know how and where your business will operate, you’re ready to apply.

For a smooth application, make sure you know the following information:

  • Business Activities
  • Location of Business
  • Ownership
  • Name of Business
  • Contact information for the business and owner
  • If you are applying online, a myID account

Tips for a smooth application process

Before you apply:

  • Put together a cost and timeline estimate.
  • Check the feasability of your proposed location:
    • Is your type of business allowed to operate from your chosen location (is the Use listed in your Land Use District)?
    • What type of Permits do you need as part of your Location Approval? See location approval.
      • Do you need to apply for a development permit or tenancy change as part of your Location Approval?
      • Does the space require any upgrades to comply with Building and Fire Codes?
        • Are you doing construction yourself or hiring a contractor?
        • Do you need to apply for a building permit as part of your Land Use Approval?
      • Do you need approval from the property owner before making changes to the space?
    • Hire the appropriate contractors for the project.
      • Are your contractors licensed?
      • Can your contractors pull the right trade permits to work on your business?

After you apply:

  • Submit all required documents as soon as you have prepared the permit requirements.
    • If your Business needs a Development and Building Permit, submit the Development Permit first and wait for a decision prior to submitting your Building Permit.
    • If your Business needs a Building Permit, submit all necessary Building Permit requirements.
  • Follow-up on requests for further information.
  • Book and complete your Inspections if a Building Permit is required.
  • Book and complete your Health and Fire Inspections once the Building Permit is complete.

Need help? A business experience representative can help you determine what approvals you will need. Contact The Planning Services Centre.

Apply for your Licence and required permits

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.

After you apply

What Approvals do you need?

After you submit your application online, you will get a confirmation email summarizing your application. It will include your Business Identification number (BID) and your next steps. If you do notget this email, check your junk email folder and then contact the Planning Services Center if you still did not receive it.

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

The approvals you will need for your licence are:

Commercial based location
Licence Categories Description Location approval Fire Health
Food Services – Premises Licence Required to operate a food premise or prepare and serve food to the public.




How to get your approvals

Location approval

All businesses in Calgary require planning approval before they can open. We recommend that you review and apply for required permits prior to applying for your licence. 

Commercial Location Approval

The City of Calgary will need to review your proposed location and determine what approvals are required to operate legally and safely.

All businesses in Calgary require location approval before they can open.

To review what types of Planning approval are required for your business, refer to the location approval section.


Most businesses that operate from commercial premises require an inspection from the Fire Prevention Bureau before the licence can be issued. 

If a business licence is for a low fire-risk licence type, it can be issued if only the Fire approval is outstanding. Low fire-risk businesses need to have 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 contact 311 with your Business Identification (BID) number to request a Fire Inspection for Business Licence (call 403-268-2489 outside of Calgary) .

It can take up to 5 business days for an inspector to visit the space.

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.​​​​​

Alberta Health Services Approval (AHS)

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 1-833-476-4743 for more information and to book a date. 

Inspection results can be submitted:

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.

Please be aware of all current provincial public health restrictions for in-person dining.

Business Licence approval type Timeline
Alberta Health Services Contact AHS at 403-943-2288 for timelines

After you have obtained all your approvals, your Business Licence can be issued to you.

Check the status of your application

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

Get a copy of your licence

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

Lost or damaged licences

If your licence is lost or damaged and you require a new copy, duplicate licences can be requested through or by contacting the Planning Services Centre​.​ Customers with a myID business account can now receive a duplicate copy of their business licence via email.

Licence not received in the mail

If you prefer to receive a mailed copy of your business licence, you can select this option by requesting a duplicate copy online or by calling the Planning Services Centre​. Paper duplicates are offered free of charge at this time. Please allow about two weeks to receive your licence in the mail. If you have not received it within this timeframe, please contact the Planning Services Centre​.

When does your licence expire?

Business licenses expire one year from the issuance date. You’ll 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 issue)
Business licence 365 days

Renewing your business licence

Your business licence needs to be renewed every year to remain active. We will mail you an invoice 45 days prior to payment being due. How you choose to pay for your renewal will affect when we receive the fee, so please allow sufficient processing time.

Payment options

Online renewal

To renew your licence online, sign into your myID business account and manage your business at​.

If you do not have a myID business account, you will have to create one first.

Other payment options

Online banking

Please note the following items from your invoice; they are required for online payment:

  • Payee: when setting up the payee on your online banking, choose payee CALGARY (CITY OF) - CORPORATE INVOICE. Please note that different banks may have a different variation of the spelling, e.g. Calgary (City): Corporate Invoice. If you are not sure that you selected the correct payee, confirm with the bank.
  • Payee account number: some banks or institutions may refer to this as the accounts receivable number (A/R#). Use your customer number on the invoice. If you are unable to find your customer number, contact the Planning Services Centre.

In person

Planning Services Centre
Third floor, Municipal Building
800 Macleod Tr S.E. Calgary, Alberta

Over the phone

To renew your licence over the phone, please call (403) 268-5311. Please note, we only accept credit card as a payment method over the phone.

Mail - please include Business ID

The City of Calgary
Licence Division
PO Box 2100 Station M (#8043)
Calgary, AB T2P 2M5

Business licence fees

When setting up a new licence, applicable fees apply. Fees are based on the licence type and whether the business is home-based or commercial-based. Business licence fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. Fees are subject to change the next calendar year.

Business Licence Fee Schedule

What happens if you don’t renew your licence?

If a licence is not renewed, it will expire. When a licence expires, it cannot be reinstated, and full fees will be charged to apply for a new licence and you will need to obtain all new licence approvals.

Make changes to your business

Business licences are specific to the owner when the business was applied and are non-transferable from one person or entity to another.

You can make some changes to your business, including:

  • Moving your Business
  • Change your mailing address
  • Changing your Trade Name
  • Updating your Ownership (sole proprietor or partnership to corporation) * conditions apply

See manage your business for more information.

Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Assessment

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.

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.​​​​​​​​​​

Property tax

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

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.

Planning Services Centre

Monday - Friday
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (MT)

Live chat:


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