Business Licences in Calgary

Understanding Calgary business licences and permits

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva January 7, 2024
DLegal Law Office - Open

Starting a new business is exciting, and you may want to start as soon as possible. However, you can’t just open your doors and start serving customers. There are many rules and regulations that you have to comply with before you start a business in Calgary. Besides officially registering a business, many businesses must get a business licence to legally do business in the City of Calgary.

Business License Calgary

A business license in Calgary serves as a legal document issued by the City administration, granting permission to individuals and local businesses to engage in specific commercial activities within the City. This regulatory framework ensures that businesses comply with local laws and standards, promoting a safe and well-regulated business environment.

Obtaining a business licence is not only a legal requirement but also a crucial step in establishing a legitimate and recognized presence in the marketplace. It is an acknowledgment of a business’s commitment to adhering to municipal regulations and fostering trust among consumers and stakeholders.

When Should You Get a Business Licence?

Obtaining a business licence in Calgary is a prerequisite for conducting operations within the City. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporate company or relocating an existing registered business, it is essential to secure a business licence before commencing any commercial activities. Waiting until after you have started operating can result in adverse legal consequences and business disruptions.

Early acquisition of a business licence demonstrates a commitment to regulatory compliance, positioning the business for success in the local market. It is advisable to initiate the application process well in advance to ensure a seamless transition into legitimate operations.

Does Every Business Need a Licence?

In Calgary, as in many other places, the requirement for a business licence depends on the nature of the business and its location. Some businesses may be exempt from obtaining a business licence, while others may require additional permits or approvals. For example, home-based businesses, specific non-profit organizations, and businesses operating on a temporary basis may have different requirements.

It’s essential to check with the City of Calgary or a business lawyer to determine the specific requirements for your type of business. They can provide accurate and up-to-date information based on your business activities and location.

Types of Business Licences

There are several types of business licences designed for certain types of businesses. Make sure that you choose the appropriate licence for your business, as obtaining the necessary licences and permits is crucial for compliance with local regulations, and failure to do so may result in fines or other penalties. 

Some of the most popular business licences include the following. If you are not sure which type of licence to get, inquire with the City of Calgary .

  • Accommodation and Lodging
  • Adult Entertainment
  • Automotive Business
  • Beauty and Body Services
  • Cannabis Business
  • Cannabis Store
  • Cleaning Services
  • Consultants
  • Contractor
  • Entertainment and event planning
  • Food Production
  • Facility Based Child Care
  • Home Based Child Care
  • Liquor Services
  • Manufacturing and Production
  • Massage Services
  • Mobile Food Vendors
  • Repair Services
  • Restaurant or brewery
  • Retail 
  • Used Merchandise
  • Vaping and Tobacco Retailer
  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Waste and Recycling Business

How To Get a Business Licence

You can apply for a business licence in Calgary via several channels, including in-person, online, and through a business lawyer.


Required Permits

Certain businesses may require additional permits based on the nature of their operations. Before applying for a business licence, entrepreneurs must identify and obtain any necessary permits to ensure comprehensive compliance with municipal regulations.

Apply Online

The City of Calgary offers an online application system, streamlining the process for business owners. The online platform provides a user-friendly interface, allowing applicants to submit all required documents and information digitally.

Apply in Person

For those who prefer face-to-face interactions, applying for a business licence in person is an alternative option. This allows for direct communication with licensing authorities and the opportunity to address any questions or concerns in real time.

Use a Business Lawyer

In certain cases, especially for businesses with complex legal considerations, seeking the assistance of a business lawyer is advisable. A legal professional can guide navigating intricate regulatory requirements and ensure that all legal aspects of the application are addressed.

How Much Do Business Licences Cost?

To get a business licence, you have to pay a non-refundable fee. How much money your licence will cost depends on several factors, such as the type of business you intend to run and where you will operate.

For a commercial-based business, the cost per licence is higher and includes a new licence, police check, fire inspection, and planning. Home-based is less expensive and covers a new licence and police check. 

If your business is based outside of the City of Calgary, but you will be doing business within the city, your business is considered ‘non-resident,’ and you will have to pay an additional non-resident surcharge on top of the standard licensing fees.

How To Renew Your Business Licence

To remain active, business licences require an annual renewal payment. The City will mail an invoice to you before payment is due, giving an advance notice. 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. While the renewal of a business licence carries a fee similar in structure to the fee for a new licence, it is usually slightly lower.


You want to start off on the right foot in the business community. However, the City of Calgary’s many legal and regulatory requirements can make it complex and confusing. To make the process simpler, contact DLegal today. Our experienced Calgary Business Lawyer know all the fine details of Calgary’s business laws and regulations and can guide you through the business registration process. We will help you to obtain the proper permits and business licences so that you can start your exciting new business adventure.


The DLegal team is here to support. We will do our best to assist or connect you with those who can help.

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