Information | Scheduled system upgrade - May long weekend

Due to a scheduled system upgrade, some applications and documents on calgary.ca may not be available from 5 p.m. Friday, May 17 until 8 a.m. Tuesday, May 21. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Home-based food 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 licence?


Yes. All home based food related businesses that prepare or sell food require a business licence and must receive location approval for there business.

Examples of home based food businesses include:

  • baking
  • catering
  • cooking service
  • fresh fruit and vegetable sales
  • chocolate and candy making
  • prepared or portioned meals
  • pre packaged/portioned meals

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 business activities: 

Example Licence types

You will be preparing food at your home

Food Service - Premises

You will be baking baked goods at your home

Food Service - Premises

You will be cooking food at home to cater to events

Food Service - Premises

You will be using a portion of your home as a home office, but you will be cooking at a licenced commercial kitchen

Food Service - Premises

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.

Business Licence Fee schedule New licence Renewal

Food Service - Premises

$172

$131

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 apply.calgary.ca​

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, 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.

MyID business account

If you have a myID business account, you can get a digital copy of your business licence through email.

To learn more and to sign-up, visit myID business account

Upcoming webinar


  • Licencing essentials for your home-based food business

    April 24 12:00pm - 12:45pm

    The City of Calgary shares information on what you need to know about licencing your home-based food business.

    Join us for a live webinar and Q&A tailored to aspiring home-based food businesses in Calgary. Our panel of experts will share insights on what you need to apply for a business licence. Learn about the different business licence types, permit information, how to apply and submit a complete application, approvals, and more.

How long will it take to process your application?


The timeline to process your application can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals required for your business.

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

TIP

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.

Home based location timelines

Permit type Timeline Application requirements
Business Licence Approval

Dependent on several factors including:

  • Obtaining the required Location and Building Safety Approvals.
  • Booking and completing all required approvals and Inspections

Tips to help you open your business smoothly:

  • Apply for your location and building safety approvals once you’ve confirmed your business can operate from your preferred location
  • Be aware of your construction timelines and call in your inspections as soon as you are ready, or hire a general contractor to do this work for you

Submit a complete application and follow-up on requests for additional information (check your junk folder for correspondence from the City)

  • Review the Business Licence checklist and complete all steps before starting your application with the city.
  • You will need to provide: Ownership, trade name, moving date and start date information
  • The location of your business, including the unit number for the building if your mailing address is different from your location address.

Home occupation class 1 Approximately 5 business days Home occupation class 1 is the default Location Approval and will automatically be applied for when you apply for your licence
Home occupation class 2

60 days to decision, plus 21 days advertisement/appeal period

To find out more about when a Home occupation class 2 permit is required, review the Home Based Location Approval section.

Home Occupation Class 2

Building Safety Approval

Varies depending on scope of Building Permit.  See our Timelines page for up-to-date timelines.

To find out more about when a Building Permit is required, review the Home Based Location Approval section.

Commercial Interior Partitioning

Business details 101


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

Additional requirements

Low-risk home-prepared food

Alberta’s Food Regulation allows Albertans to make low-risk foods in their home kitchen for sale to the public. It sets the rules for safe food handling.

Low-risk home-prepared foods can be sold from home, special events, and farmers’ markets, where they were sold previously.

More information about Low-risk home-prepared food can be found on the Government of Alberta website.

Prepared meals or pre-portioned meals

Businesses that provide prepared meals, weekly meal kits or and delivery will require a Food Service – Premises business licence if they are preparing the food at home. Something about delivery and pickup as well. 

Caterer

Commercial caterers cannot operate their business from a community association hall. However, they can use the hall’s kitchen in two specific scenarios:

  1. Prepare food for a function within the hall
  2. Prepare food for delivery at a different location if:
    •  It is an hourly rental of the hall’s kitchen
    • The caterer has a business licence
    • No storage of food occurs at the hall

Catering businesses that provide alcohol with the meals served can do so only in conjunction with catered events for private social functions (such as weddings).

Personal chef

Chef-for-hire, personal chef or cook-for-hire do not require a business licence provided all the food manufacturing, preparation and storage is done at the client's residence. If you will be preparing, manufacturing, or storing food at your home, you will need a Business licence for Food Service – Premises.

Location approval


Where is your business located?

All businesses need to provide a location that is approved for their specific business activities.

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

You will be doing paperwork in your home office, and cooking from a licenced commercial kitchen

Home Occupation – Class 1

You will be preparing food from your home and the food you are preparing meets the Government of Alberta’s criteria for Low-Risk Home-Prepared food

Home Occupation – Class 1

You will be preparing food from your home from a second commercial grade kitchen within your home

Home Occupation – Class 2

You will be preparing food from your home and the food you are preparing meets the Government of Alberta’s criteria for Low-Risk Home-Prepared food, but you don’t meet the rules for a Home Occupation – Class 1

Home Occupation – Class 2

You will be having more than 3 visits weekly to your house to pick up food prepared at your home.

Home Occupation – Class 2


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.

If you want to run your business from your home, you will need to decide on how your business will operate out of your home.

If you meet the rules of a home occupation class 1, this approval will be automatically granted when you apply for your business licence. It is valid until your business is no longer operating from your home.

If your business does not meet all the home occupation class 1 rules, you will need to apply for a home occupation class 2 development permit. This can be done before, at the same time, or after your business licence application. *

The table below will help you determine if you qualify for a home occupation class 1 or if you will need to make an application for a home occupation class 2. A home occupation class 2 development permit does not guarantee an approval.

  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, Timelines & Expiry

Location approval Fee schedule Permit fee ​Advertising fee ​​Total Timeline Expiry
​Home occupation class 1

Planning applications fee schedule

​- - $0 5 business days No expiry
​Home occupation class 2

Planning applications fee schedule

​$449 ​$32 $481 Approximately 10-12 weeks Varies, refer to your permit's conditions of approval for the expiration

Building permit (if applicable)

Some home-based business activities may also require a commercial building permit for your space to comply with the Alberta building Code and all applicable health and safety standards. For example, you would need a Building Permit for a separate kitchen for your baking business.

Building permit details and drawings can be submitted online or in person at the Planning Services Centre.

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

Fees, Timelines & Expiry

  Fee schedule Permit fee ​​Total Timelines Expiry (from date of issuance)
Commercial building permit

Building and trade fee schedule

Varies

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

Approximately 21 business days* 180 days until you require a progress inspection

*Please see our Timelines Page for up-to-date timeline information

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

When is a building permit needed?

Any business that is developing a second kitchen in their home for the purpose of running a food preparation business will require a commercial building permit, and may require a mechanical permit, depending on the scope and scale of the business.

Additionally, all home based baking business will require both a commercial building permit as well as a mechanical permit.

We recommend contacting our Business Experience Representatives to understand the requirements in advanced of applying for your business licence.

Apply


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
  • Fee payment at the time of application*
  • 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.
  • Confirm the requirements needed to operate from your selected 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 not get 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:

Home based business
Licence Type Description Location approval (Required) Health (Required)
Food Service – Premises Required to sell food products, including pre-packaged food

Required

Required

Retail Dealer – Premises

Required to sell retail goods from a fixed location

Required

Learn more about how to get your approvals.

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. 

Home-based Location Approval

Home based businesses will always need a Home Occupation permit. Some home-based businesses may also require a commercial building permit to operate safely. Read more about what permits you may need in the location approval section.

Health

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 apply.calgary.ca/managebusiness 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.

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 apply.calgary.ca​.

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

Home Occupation Class 2 renewals

To renew your Home Occupation Class 2, sign into your myID business account and manage your business online at apply.calgary.ca​. If you do not have a myID business account, you will have to create one first.​

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

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

Live chat:
calgary.ca/livechat

Call:
403-268-5311

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

Book an eAppointment for in person services at appointment.calgary.ca

We do regular research with businesses to better understand the outlook and viewpoint of the business community. If you are a business owner, leader or manager, join our online business research panel, Business Perspectives.