Warehousing and Distribution - business guide
Businesses that direct, manage or coordinate the distribution and sale of goods, including food products, or who are engaged in warehousing or wholesale.
Examples of businesses that do require municipal licensing:
- Door-to-door sales
- In-home product sales
- Warehouses renting space to other businesses
- Self-storage facilities
- Business records storage
- Businesses operating on bare land enclosed by a fence or barrier
- Wholesalers, selling to other businesses
- Bicycle couriers
Examples of businesses that do not require municipal licensing:
- Warehouses for a business storing its own goods
- Couriers (not including bicycle couriers)
- Moving companies (unless offering storage)
- Delivery services
If your business does not require a licence, you still require a Business ID and land use approval. Visit businesses not requiring a municipal licence for more information.
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 (calgary.ca).
Rules and regulations
An approval is required if your business goes door-to-door or conducts business at any place other than the place of business.
When applying for your provincial licensing through Service Alberta, you will be asked to identify your business as either a prepaid contracting business or a direct seller.
A prepaid contracting business:
- Solicits, negotiates or concludes prepaid contracts in person at any place other than the sellers’ place of business, and
- Accepts money before all the work is done and/or the services are provided
A direct seller:
- Solicits, negotiates, or concludes sales contracts in person, at any place other than the seller’s place of business
You can present your provincial licence in person at the Planning Services Centre, fax it to the Business Licence Division at 403-537-3034 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Door-to-door energy and appliance sales are not permitted by the province. See the door-to-door energy sales ban for more information.
To sell from private or public property, written approval is required. A distribution manager cannot sell or display goods on City streets, sidewalks or boulevards, City-owned lands, parks, LRT stations or Plus 15 walkways.
Warehousing businesses cannot be located in a residential district. These businesses may operate from a fully enclosed building or from bare land that is enclosed with a fence or barrier.
Advertising canvasser or distributor
A person who goes door-to-door to sell advertising space in any type of printed publication published in the city or who distributes advertising material, samples or merchandise from building to building requires a business licence. Radio and TV stations are exempt from this licence type as are persons distributing advertising material solely regarding their own business.
Consider your required approvals
Once you apply for your business licence, outstanding approvals must be completed before the business licence is issued.
A business licence will often have multiple licence types associated with it. Below is a chart of all the related licence types that fall under this business activity. If your business requires multiple licence types, approval processes are only generated once per licence. For example, only one fire inspection is required even if multiple licence types require that inspection.
|Licence Type||Land use||Police||Fire||Health||Provincial||AMVIC||ID card|
|Advertising Canvasser or Distributor||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
|Bicycle Courier Agency||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
|Distribution Manager||Required||Not required||Required||Required||Required||Not required||Not required|
|Warehousing||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
|Wholesaler||Required||Not required||Required||Not required||Not required||Not required||Not required|
All businesses in Calgary require land use approval. Each space in a building has its own specified, approved use that cannot be changed without an approval, permit or both.
You can also refer to Commercial, industrial and mulit-residential for more information, or contact our Planning Services Centre at 403-268-5311 to investigate land use approval for your business.
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.
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:
- In person at the Planning Services Centre:
3rd floor, Municipal building, 800 Macleod Trail S.E.
- By email: email@example.com
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|
Certain business activities require provincial licensing in addition to your municipal business license. These activities have been identified as licence types on the chart above (see required approvals chart).
Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) and provide details of the licence types you are currently applying for with The City of Calgary. Service Alberta will direct you to the appropriate provincial contact which will provide further direction in regard to fulfilling the provincial licensing requirements necessary for obtaining your municipal business licence.
Provincial licenses must be submitted to The City’s licence division to obtain the municipal license.
You can present your provincial licence:
- In person at the Planning Services Centre:
800 Macleod Trail S.E.
- By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- By fax: 403-537-3034
For business licence fees, see the Business Licence Fee Schedule. The business licence fee schedule is broken down by licence type. If your business requires multiple licence types, the highest category fee will be charged.
These fees do not include the costs related to required permits to meet land use approval, or any third-party approvals or inspections that may be required to obtain your licence.
How to apply
If you need help when completing your application Live Chat with us, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday to Friday.
We’re currently experiencing higher than seasonal application volumes, we apologize for delays. To check the status of your permit, go to vista.calgary.ca and enter in your Job Access Code (JAC) number.
Apply in person at the Planning Services Centre.
Obtaining your business licence
A business license will be issued when all outstanding approvals are complete. If you wish to inquire about the status of your licence, please contact the Planning Call Centre at 403-268-5311.
The authorized business licence will be sent to the applicant in the mail, or if requested, can be held at our permit pick-up counter. When a commercial business is operational, the physical copy of your business licence must be posted in a highly visible location where the public can easily see it.
If you intend to make any changes to your business after receiving your licence, please visit Manage your business for more information.
How long is my licence good for?
Business licences expire one year from the issuance date. Forty-five days before the licence expires, a notice is mailed out advising the licensee of the expiry date. Any outstanding fines must be paid prior to renewal.
Business ownership changes
A business licence or business ID is not transferable from one person to another or from one person's business premises to another.
A business operating from more than one location requires a separate business licence for each premises.
Licence type combinations
To ensure the proper approvals are generated for a business, multiple licence types may be attached to a single business licence. For example, a cabinet maker would require a manufacturer licence type; if the business is also installing the cabinets, a contractor licence type is required. Both licence types will appear on the same business licence document and only one renewal will be required.
All charitable organizations must be associated with another licenced business activity. Approval must be granted by the province before applying for a municipal licence.
Businesses not eligible for a charity status:
- Alcohol beverage sales
- Tobacco retailer
All fundraising activity is governed by the charitable fundraising act. Charitable organizations that are only fundraising should contact Service Alberta, Consumer Services at 1-780-427-4088 or 1-877-427-4088.
All applicants for this licence type should first consult with the province about eligibility for this designation and register their business, prior to applying for a municipal business licence. Contact Service Alberta at 1-780-427-4088 (or toll free in Alberta only at 1-877-427-4088) for more information.