After you’ve registered your business, securing the licences and permits you need for your industry and location is the next step. By learning the regulations and requirements, you can confidently avoid unnecessary fines and liabilities and set yourself up for success.
Every municipality has their own requirements for licensing your business, whether it’s annual renewal or multi-year licensing. Take a look at the period your licence is valid for (by calendar year or based on licensing date), mark it in your calendar and renew within 30 days of expiry to avoid fines.
Most municipalities have licensing, permits and zoning requirements posted on their website and may allow you to apply through an online portal. Double check the bylaw requirements when reviewing any licensing and permit requirements. There may be unique rules that affect your business’ operations, location or industry.
Provincial and federal requirements
Depending on your industry or your offering, your business may be subject to specific provincial or federal licensing, permit or legislative requirements on top of municipal licensing.
To get started, use a digital tool like BizPal—by entering your location and industry, you can determine the permit and licensing your business needs to meet municipal*, provincial and federal requirements. If you’re operating out of province under the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, explore any extra permitting you may need.
Here’s an example. If you’re opening a children’s clothing store in Airdrie, you’ll need to get these licences and permits along with your business registration:
- Municipal: local retail business licence, development permits for renovations and signage
- Provincial: permit to employ an adolescent (if you’re hiring anyone under the age of 18)
- Federal: import permit for goods
*Not all Alberta municipal governments participate in the BizPal service. Connect with your local municipality for the most accurate requirements.
Some trades and professions need to meet specific requirements to operate, which can include annual certification or classification, inspections or other operational regulations.
Regulatory bodies vary by industry. To discover if you’re required to register and comply with industry-specific regulatory requirements, visit the Government of Alberta website.
If you’re freelancing, consulting or operating other types of sole proprietorships, you may not need a business licence. Home-based business requirements vary based on industry, location and business offerings. Look into your local municipal bylaws to avoid receiving fines for not being licensed properly or if you need permits for things like signage in residential areas.
Haidi creates beaded jewelry to sell in her online marketplace and at events. She does not require a business licence.
Kurtis does graphic design work for esports teams and works from his home office. He does not require a home-based business licence.
Julian bakes cakes in his home kitchen. Julian requires a home-based business licence to operate and an inspection by the local health authority.
Vanessa runs a dayhome in her neighbourhood. Her business is subject to provincial standards regarding child care services, as well as a municipal business licence and sign permit. She may also choose to register as an approved provider with a local accreditor.
Samir sews and sells clothing. Samir’s business doesn’t fall into a required industry. Depending on the number of tailoring clients he sees in his home studio, Samir may need to acquire a business licence.
Lennon is a hairstylist with a home salon. In their municipality, personal care services require a home-based business licence.
Once you have your permitting and licensing in place, you’re ready to get business insurance.