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Special Events - business guide

Open an entertainment and event 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?

We encourage all businesses operating in Calgary 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?

Businsses that provide event services may require a licence, review your business activities to help determine if a licence is required.

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

Event businesses that do need a licence Entertainment businesses that do need a licence Entertainment and event businesses that do not need a licence
Events where products and services are being sold. Amusement arcades Individual vendors at approved trade shows or markets, except for business that sell alcohol and tobacco products.
Farmer’s markets Concert facilities Seminars where samples, demonstrations, products or services are not provided
Trade shows Escape rooms City-approved community festivals or events
Carnivals and circuses Cinemas and movie theaters Events at a community hall
Fairs Entertainment establishments

Generally, private or social events (ie, not a business) held on private property, however an AGLC event licence may be required to sell or provide liquor services at a private event.

Haunted houses Adult mini theater

For tents to support staff and talent at temporary filming locations, see Tents for details on what permits are required.

Festivals Conference and event facilities

For tent/outdoor events on the same property as the existing licenced business, the existing licence automatically extends to an event taking place on the same property as the licensed business. A new license would be required for activities that require a licence and are located on a different property.

Extended Dance Events Amusement parks -
Outdoor music or dance festivals - -
Psychic practitioners - -

For more in-depth information about these different types of licences, see the licenceable entertainment and events section below. 

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 plan to host a farmer’s market on a regular basis.

A Market licence is required

If you plan on renting a stall, table or space at an approved farmer’s market.

A contractor licence is required.

If your business will provide entertainment to the public, including live entertainment, patron dancing, games rooms, a bowling alley, billiard/pool hall or drive-in theatre.

An Entertainment Establishment licence is required.

If your business will event services including event planning, rentals, such as tent, seating, tables, decorations, etc. No licence is required.
If your business will include the set-up and/or take-down of tents or canopies.

A contractor licence is required.

If your business will sell products for events, including tents, seating, tables, decorations, etc.

A Retail Dealer – Premises licence is required.

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 New licence Police Fire Planning Total
Alcohol Beverage Sales ​$172 - $107 $41 $320
Amusement Arcade ​$172 - $107 $41 $320
Carnival or Circus ​$172 - $107 $41 $320
Cinema ​$172 - $208 $41 $421
Concert (per day) $1179 - $66 $41 $1286
Concert Facility ​$236 $65 + $55 for each additional $208 $41 $550
Entertainment Establishment $172 - $107 $41 $320
Extended Dance Event (per event) ​$327 $65 + $55 for each additional $208 $41 $641
Food Service - Premises ​$172 - $107 $41 $320
Market ​$172 - $107 $41 $320
Psychic Practitioner ​$172 $65 + $55 for each additional $41 $278
Trade Show ​$172 - $208 $41 $421

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
  • If your business will be operating from a temporary location, such as a tent or outdoor space, or from a commercial or industrial location.

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 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.

Commercial based location timelines

Temporary tent location timelines

Tier Classification Building Permit required Development Permit required Timeline
Tier 1 No No n/a
Tier 1 No Yes 10 – 12 weeks
Tier 2 Yes No Approximately 1-2 business days if no DP is required, or DP has been approved.
Tier 2 Yes Yes 10 – 12 weeks for DP approval + Approximately 1-2 business days if no DP is required, or DP has been approved.
Tier 3 Yes No

Typically, between 21 and 49 days*. 

*Varies based on complexity and completeness of the application.

Tier 3 Yes Yes

10 – 12 weeks for DP approval + Typically, between 21 and 49 days*. 

*Varies based on complexity and completeness of the application.

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 event located?

Before you set-up for your event, make sure you know if a permit will be required by reviewing the Tents & Canopies page.

If you will be operating a business you will 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.

Interdepartmental events team

If your event:

  • Is on city-owned land, including a City park or road
  • Needs permits/assistance from two or more departments (such as Parks and Planning & Development Services)
  • Is complex or expects mass public attendance

Then, the Interdepartmental Events Team will help coordinate the approvals needed for your event. The Interdepartmental Events Team uses a one-stop approach for festivals and events on City land to help festival and event organizers obtain necessary approvals. It is made up of representatives from over 20 City departments and organizations to help co-ordinate large events. Smaller events, such as weddings or private celebrations, typically do not require the team’s involvement.

Contact the Interdepartmental Events Team at eventservices@calgary.ca.

Entertainment and event business licence types

Carnival or Circus

A carnival or circus business provides a collection of side shows, mechanical rides, trained animal acts, games of chance or other forms of entertainment.

Market

A market licence is needed for facilities that rent out stalls, tables or space to merchants, who are selling goods or services to the public, such as shopping malls or farmers markets.

  • Individual kiosks located in malls fall under the market licence type and do not require a licence unless
    • they sell tobacco or alcohol,
    • if the mall or market does not have a market licence, or
    • if the business is open beyond the mall’s hours of operations.
  • Individual stall or table operators within a traditional farmers’ market or flea market do not need a separate retail dealer licence.
  • If a licence is not required, applicable approvals still need to be met.
  • If you are a psychic practitioner operating at a market, you require a separate licence.

Psychic practitioners

A person in the business of card reading, fortune telling, graphology, palm reading, phrenology, numerology or other similar activities.

  • All psychic practitioners at markets require their own licence.
  • A psychic practitioner practicing his or her business at a trade show with 10 or more psychic practitioners does not require a business licence when the trade show is licensed.
  • Trade shows with fewer than 10 psychic practitioners require individual licences for each psychic practitioner participating in the event.
  • Non-resident licence fees apply to any psychic practitioner who is based outside of Calgary and is not covered by a trade show licence.

Psychic practitioners may require additional licences if selling books/jewelry, offering personal services or selling herbs and vitamins.

Trade show

A commercial exhibition with 10 or more participants for less than a month and for the purpose of having the participant’s exhibit samples, demonstrate products or services or sell products or services to the public.

  • A trade show facility licence is required if these events are held on a consistent basis.
  • Participants in a commercial exhibition are not required to be individually licensed, except for alcohol beverage sales and tobacco retailers. 

Concert

A concert is any outdoor music or dance festival, musical performance, or similar musical activity where:

  • 5,000 or more tickets will be printed, or an event is likely to attract 5,000 or more people at any one time.
  • Music is provided by paid or amateur performers or by pre-recorded means.
  • The event is held at any place within Calgary where the general public are invited or admitted for a charge.

Concert facilities require a municipal business licence. 

Extended dance event

An event for people to listen and dance to electronic and synthesized music (commonly referred to as a rave).

A business licence is required if:

  • The event is taking place at a venue that does not commonly hold this type of event.
  • Expected attendance for the event is 299 or more.

To apply for this licence type, you must provide:

  • A signed Extended Dance Event application form, submitted 45 days prior to the date of the event.
    • Application fee (non-refundable)
    • Security plan
    • Emergency medical services plan
    • Letter of consent, signed by the venue owner or authorized agent
    • Transportation plan (if required)
    • Sound system plan (if required) 
  • Two different forms of identification for a Calgary Police Service background check.

Land use approval must be obtained for the event. In most instances, the Land Use Bylaw prohibits operation of an extended dance event in a warehouse or industrial setting.

To apply for an extended dance event licence, email businesslicence@calgary.ca.

Contact our Planning Services Centre​ for more information

Adult mini-theatre

Business provide entertainment or amenities on the premises that are designed to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites or inclinations.

Application Requirements

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.

TIP

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.
    • New: A TC may also be required if only the use of the space is changing and that use is listed as a permitted in the following districts: C-N1, C-N2, C-C1, C-C2, C-COR1, C-COR2, C-COR3, C-O, C-R1, C-R2, C-R3, CC-MHX, CC-X, CC-COR, CR20-C20/R20, CC-ET, CC-EIR, CC-EMU, CC-EPR, CC-ERR, CC-ER, MU-1 and MU-2, I-B, I-C or I-G districts. If there are other changes to the space, a development permit may still be required.
  • Development Permit: use of the space is changing, for example: Retail to Restaurant. use of the space is changing, for example: Retail to Restaurant  .      However, if how you will be using the space is listed as permitted in one of the following districts: C-N1, C-N2, C-C1, C-C2, C-COR1, C-COR2, C-COR3, C-O, C-R1, C-R2, C-R3, CC-MHX, CC-X, CC-COR, CR20-C20/R20, CC-ET, CC-EIR, CC-EMU, CC-EPR, CC-ERR, CC-ER, MU-1 and MU-2, I-B, I-C or I-G districts, and only the use is changing, then only a Tenancy Change may be required.
  • 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.

Checklists

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

$190

-

$190

-

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

$594

$30

$624

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. In some Land Use Districts, a Tenancy Change is required if the use is listed as permitted in the district. These land use districts include: A TC may also be required if only the use of the space is changing and that use is listed as a permitted in the following districts: C-N1, C-N2, C-C1, C-C2, C-COR1, C-COR2, C-COR3, C-O, C-R1, C-R2, C-R3, CC-MHX, CC-X, CC-COR, CR20-C20/R20, CC-ET, CC-EIR, CC-EMU, CC-EPR, CC-ERR, CC-ER, MU-1 and MU-2, I-B, I-C or I-G districts. If there are other changes to the space, a development permit may still be 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.

Checklist

Tenancy Change

Fees and timelines

​Permit Type Fee schedule ​​Total Timeline

Tenancy Change

Planning applications fee schedule

$0

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 Calgary.ca/commercial 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

Varies

​​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.

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:

  You will be contacted by a file manager to review your application and provide you with next steps. 

  Required

Commercial based business
Licence Categories Description Location approval  Show ID Police check Fire Health AGLC
Alcohol Beverage Sales Required to sell alcoholic beverages to the public.

Amusement Arcade Required to provide entertainment to the public in the form of where four or more amusement, sport or arcade machines are provided.

Carnival or Circus Required to provide a collection of side shows, mechanical rides, trained animal acts, games of chance or other forms of entertainment to the public.

Cinema Required to show motion pictures to the public within a building, but do not include an Adult Mini-Theatre.

Concert 

Required for any outdoor music or dance festival, musical performance, or similar musical activity where:

Concert Facility Is required for any venue within the City of Calgary that can stage a concert.

Entertainment Establishment Required if your establishment routinely advertises live entertainment such as music or comedy, dancing, games room, a bowling alley, billiard/pool hall or drive-in theatre

Extended Dance Event (per event)

Required for people to listen and dance to electronic and synthesized music (commonly referred to as a rave).

A business licence is required if:

  • The event is taking place at a venue that does not commonly hold this type of event.
  • Expected attendance for the event is 299 or more.

 

Food Service - Premises Required to operate a food premise or prepare and serve food to the public, includes pre-packaged foods.

Market Required to provide stalls, tables or spaces for rent to merchants to display and sell goods to the public.

Psychic Practitioner Required for any person providing card reading, fortune telling, graphology, palmistry, phrenology, numerology or other similar services to the public.

Trade Show Required to organize a short term commercial exhibition of 10 or more participants, whose purpose is to exhibit samples, demonstrate products or services, or sell products or services 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.

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

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

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

Fire

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.​​​​​

AGLC

Businesses manufacturing or selling alcoholic beverages must also obtain a liquor licence from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC). The AGLC application takes approximately three weeks to process. Applicants can start the AGLC application process before their municipal business licence, however the AGLC liquor licence will not be issued until the Land Use Approval has been obtained.

aglc.ca

TIP

 

You can start the AGLC application process before your municipal business licence, however the AGLC liquor licence will not be issued until your Location Approval has been obtained. 

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

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