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Small business permits and licenses in Canada

By Samantha Garner | April 29, 2017

When you’re staring your small business, it’s important to have all the required permits and licenses you need. Without them, you could be facing some pretty major fines – so don’t cut corners!

So, what’s the difference between a permit and a license? 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 vary by industry, city, and province. You might need to get both a municipal and provincial license. Most small businesses need a license of some sort to operate, even some home-based businesses. Fees are required with licenses, so be sure to budget for this.

Be sure to find out if you’ll need to get approvals, inspections, or background checks before you can get license. For example, commercial business locations are usually inspected by the fire department. If you’re running your business out of your home, you may need a home occupation permit, or must follow other provincial regulations.

What permit or license do I need?

There are lots of different of licenses and permits, depending on your location and your industry. A Calgary yoga studio, 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.

We suggest you get in touch with your local city or provincial department to talk about licensing. The costs and wait times for each of these permits vary, so be sure to look into these things early on – the last thing you want is to delay your opening because of a permit!

To find out what licenses and permits you’ll need, check out Industry Canada’s BizPal website. You may also have to contact local authorities like Development and Building Approvals, Health Services, Fire Department, Gaming and Liquor Commission, or Police Services.

Good luck!

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