When you’re staring your small business, it’s important to make sure you have all of the required permits and licenses in place right from the start. Without them, you could be facing some pretty hefty fines – so don’t cut corners!
A license shows you’re allowed to operate in your area, while a permit is a document that shows proof of compliance with certain laws.
The permits and licenses your company needs will not only vary by industry, but also by city and province. You may need both a municipal and provincial license to operate your business. Most businesses – even some home-based ones – need a license of some sort to operate. License fees are required, so be sure to budget for this.
Often, you’ll need to get approvals or inspections before you can get licenses, sometimes including background checks. Commercial business locations are usually inspected by the fire department. Even if you’re working from home or coordinating a charitable fundraiser, you may need a home occupation permit, or must follow other provincial regulations.
There are lots of different types of licenses and permits depending on your location and your industry. An aerobic instruction company in Calgary, for example, could require an Alberta Sign Application, an Alberta Business Name Registration as well as a Canadian Business Registration, a Calgary Sign Permit, a Calgary Development Permit and a Commercial School License. It’s a good idea to contact your local city or provincial department to discuss licensing. The costs and wait times for each of these permits vary, so be sure to look into the required permits and licenses for your business early on.
Industry Canada runs an online service called BizPal, which helps you find the permits and licenses you’ll need in particular areas of Canada. You may also have to get in touch with local authorities like Development and Building Approvals, Health Services, Fire Department, Gaming and Liquor Commission, Police Services and Motor Vehicle Industry.