Open a Facility Based Child Care business
Before you apply
Do you need to register your business?
Yes. All businesses operating in Calgary are required to register their business with The City and get approval for their business’ location.
Do you need a business licence?
A child-care business that operates from an approved commercial facility does not require a City of Calgary licence. These businesses are governed by the province of Alberta. Please contact Calgary Family & Child Services for more details on the provincial licence requirements.
Facility based child-care businesses include:
- Before and after-school care
- Child care facilities
- Day care centers
NOTE: If you are providing child care for 6 children or less from your home, under the age of 13, please refer to the Home-Based Child Care page for licence details.
If you don’t know if your business requires a business licence, contact the Planning Services Centre for assistance.
How much will it cost?
Fees to receive approval for your business’ location will vary. Please review the location approval section to find out more about what approvals and permits may be required for your business.
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.
Day cares, pre-schools, kindergartens, out-of-school care, early childhood services and other programs where the primary purpose is the care of children are considered “Child Care Service” in the Land Use Bylaw.
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.
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
Commercial based location
Your business will be run from a commercial or industrial location in Calgary.
Planning and Building Safety approvals
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
What different types of permits might be required?
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.
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.
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
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
60 days to decision + 21 days advertisement/appeal period
*timelines are subject to change based on circulation requirements
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.
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
Fees and timelines
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 Calgary.ca/commercial or contact the Planning Services Centre.
Fees, Timelines and Expiry
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
- Fee payment at the time of application*
- 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.
Register your business and apply for 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.
How to get your approvals
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.
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.
Do you need to renew your business registration?
Businesses that do not require a business licence do not need to be renewed.
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 <-> corporation) * conditions apply
See manage your business for more information.
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.