small business permits and licenses

What permits and licenses do you need for your Canadian small business?

Permits and licenses may seem like just a formality, but they’re an essential part of running a small business in Canada. Most small businesses need a license of some sort to operate, even some home-based businesses. Without proper licenses and permits, you may have to pay major fines – not something you want to worry about when you’re starting a business and every dollar counts!

Here are some more details about Canadian small business permits and licenses, and where to get them.

What’s the difference between a license and a permit?

To many of us, a permit and a license can seem like the same thing. However, there is an important difference between the two:

  • A permit shows proof of compliance with certain laws
  • A license shows you’re allowed to operate in your area

What small business permit or license do I need in Canada?

The small business permits and licenses you’ll need will depend on your small business’ industry, city, and province. You might be required to have both a municipal and provincial license. Fees are required with licenses, so be sure to account for this.

Before you get a license, check to see if you’ll need to get approvals, inspections, or background checks. For example, commercial business locations are usually inspected by the fire department. Or, if you’re running your business out of your home, you may need a home occupation permit or need to follow other provincial regulations.

Example of small business licenses and permits in Canada

Here’s one example of the types of permits and licenses a small business might need:

A Calgary yoga studio 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.

Where do you get a permit or license for your small business?

As early as you can, get in touch with your municipal or provincial department to talk about licensing. It’s important to not leave this to the last minute, because the costs and wait times for each of these permits are so variable. The last thing you want is to delay your business’ opening because you’re waiting for a permit!

Check out the Government of Canada’s BizPal website to find out what licenses and permits you’ll need. You may also need to get in touch with local authorities like Development and Building Approvals, Health Services, Fire Department, Gaming and Liquor Commission, or Police Services.

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home-based business

Expert answers to home-based business questions

With so many of us working from home these days, the small business landscape has changed. Maybe your team is slowly starting to return to the office, or maybe you’re exploring the idea of remote working in the future. Maybe you’ve become inspired to start a home-based business of your own.

Our GoForth Experts have fielded lots of questions about home-based businesses over the years, and have answers about topics such as zoning, permits, the home-based business lifestyle – and more! Here are a few home-based business questions our expert entrepreneurs have answered:

Have a question of your own? Search our database of over 1,000 small business questions and find answers from our expert entrepreneurs.

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56 businesses you can start from home

home-based business ideas

Many entrepreneurs run home-based businesses. These self-employed entrepreneurs work alone, or have a few employees. Home-based businesses usually don’t have a storefront, street advertising signs or customer parking. Home-based entrepreneurs, despite the name, may have an office, studio or workshop, depending on their business. This sort of business has several pros, including greater schedule flexibility, no dress code, potential savings on expenses such as childcare, and availability of tax deductions. And with the prevalence of online productivity and collaboration tools, running a business from home is easier than ever.

Sounds great, right? If you think starting a home-based business might be ideal for you, here are 56 small businesses you can start from home, either full-time, or on the side:

  • Social media influencer
  • Video creator/editor
  • Copywriter
  • Travel writer
  • Personal trainer
  • Tutor
  • Home inspector
  • Financial planner
  • Bookkeeper/accountant
  • Photographer
  • Event planner
  • Visual artist
  • Blogger
  • Computer repair
  • Make-up artist
  • Freelance journalist
  • Personal assistant
  • Editor
  • Graphic designer
  • Web designer
  • Web developer
  • Wedding planner
  • Bicycle repair
  • Social media management
  • IT consultant
  • Marketing consultant
  • Grant writer
  • Alterations or sewing
  • Hairstylist
  • Manicurist
  • Personal shopper
  • Virtual assistant
  • Transcriptionist
  • Massage therapist
  • Bed & breakfast
  • Daycare
  • Clothing designer
  • Dog walker/pet sitter
  • Pet groomer
  • Dog trainer
  • Online reseller
  • Jewelry designer
  • Gardening
  • Video game review writer
  • Ceramicist
  • Music instructor
  • Purse designer
  • Notary public
  • Language instructor
  • Home organizer
  • Home cleaner
  • Interior decorator
  • Business coach
  • Personal chef
  • Caterer
  • Woodworking

As always, we strongly recommend proper research and planning when starting a small business. Entrepreneurs starting a home-based business should be especially wary of scams and opportunities that sound too good to be true. Also, investigate any licenses and permits your home-based business may need before getting started.

Check out these posts for more information and advice about home-based businesses:

How to identify a work-from-home scam
You should sell these! How to start a business selling your handcrafted work
Perks and snags of internet or home-based businesses
Home-based business permits and expenses
Small business permits and licenses in Canada
Tools to help entrepreneurs stay productive

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Small business permits and licenses in Canada

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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All about small business permits and licenses

small-business-permits-licensesWhen 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.

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