Get a business licence
If you want to carry on business in the City of Vancouver, you need a business licence.
Types of businesses that require licences
- Commercial and industrial business: A business based within a building located in a commercial or industrial area of the City of Vancouver as defined in the Zoning and Development Bylaw
- Home-based business: A business based in a dwelling located in a residential area in the City of Vancouver as defined in the Zoning and Development Bylaw
- Out-of-town business: A business being carried on in the City of Vancouver, but with the business office located outside of Vancouver
Only the business owner is required to get a business licence. Employees do not need to get individual business licences.
Types of businesses not allowed in Vancouver
A person cannot apply for a licence for any business described in Schedule A of the Business Prohibition Bylaw.
How to apply
You can apply for a business licence in the following ways:
- In person
- By email
- By fax
- By mail
- Online through the OneStop Business Registry
Include the following with your business licence application:
- A copy of the business owner's current government-issued photo ID
- If a representative is applying for the licence, they must also submit a copy of their own current government-issued photo ID, and a letter of authorization from the business owner
- If your business is limited or incorporated, you must also submit a copy of the provincial or extra-provincial certificate of incorporation issued by the BC Corporate Registry, and include the company's list of directors
- Please note that a federal certificate of incorporation issued by Industry Canada will not be accepted
Do you need other approvals before you get your business licence?
You might require other approvals before your business licence is approved:
Depending on the zoning of your proposed business location, your business may or may not be permitted. Or your business may only be permitted after a Development Permit is obtained.
Staff at the Occupancy or File Research Counter will review the property. A Building Permit or a Special Inspection may be required.
Before your business licence is issued, you may require other approvals from the Police, Fire, or Health Departments.
- Environmental Health: Any food-related businesses must have an inspection completed and approved by Vancouver Coastal Health.
- Fire: Some business licence categories will require certificates from the Vancouver Fire Department.
- Police: If police approval is required, you will need to go directly to the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) located at 2120 Cambie Street to apply for a Police Information Check (PIC). For more information on the VPD’s location, hours of operation, fees, how to apply and how long it will take, please visit the VPD’s website. For more information on business licence applications that may need police approval, please contact the Licence Office.
- Province of BC: Some business licence categories will require certificates from the Province of BC.
If all requirements and approval have been met, this is when you can expect to have your business licence issued:
|Application delivered||Business licence issued|
|In person||Same day|
|By fax, mail, or email (March to October)||2 to 3 weeks|
|By fax, mail, or email (November to February)||6 to 8 weeks|
If you do not apply in person, we will send you an invoice for the licence fee. Your business licence will be processed after we receive payment for the licence fees.