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 person
  • By email
  • By mail

Additional requirements

Include a copy of the business owner's current, government-issued photo ID with your business licence application.

Is a representative applying for the licence?

They must also submit a copy of:

  1. Their own current, government-issued photo ID
  2. A letter of authorization from the business owner

Download a letter of authorization template  (50 KB)

Is your business limited or incorporated?

You must also submit a copy of:

  1. The provincial or extra-provincial certificate of incorporation issued by the BC Corporate Registry
  2. The company's list of directors

 A federal certificate of incorporation issued by Industry Canada won't be accepted.

Do you need other approvals before you get your business licence?

You might require other approvals before your business licence is approved:

Zoning approval

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.

Building approval

Staff at the Occupancy or File Research Counter will review the property. A Building Permit or a Special Inspection may be required.

Licence approvals

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 Development and Building Services Centre.
  • Province of BC: Some business licence categories will require certificates from the Province of BC.

Timeline

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 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.

Important: Your business and your location

Before you purchase or sign a lease for your business location, check with the Development and Building Services Centre first to make sure that you will be able to conduct your type of business in those premises.

There are different requirements under the Zoning & Development Bylaw and the Building Bylaw for different uses. Each space in a building has its own specified approved use and sometimes the use of that space cannot be changed without an approval or a permit, or both.

Fees

Item Fee
Application fee for new business licence $51.00 (non-refundable)
Annual licence fee Depends on business type

To check the licence fee:

All licences will expire annually on December 31 of each year. The annual fee in the first year will be pro-rated based on the business start date.

Business license fees are non-taxable.

Payment methods

If you apply for your licence in person, you can pay for your business licence by

  • Cash
  • Cheque or money order (made payable to the City of Vancouver)
  • Debit card
  • Credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express)

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.

Business Licence application forms

General Business Licence application form (133.24 KB)

For commercial, industrial, home-based, and out-of-town businesses.

Rental Property Business Licence application form (138.22 KB)

For renting out an apartment, duplex, multiple dwelling, one-family dwelling, pre-1956 dwelling, residential/commercial building, or secondary suite.

Late Night Dance Licence application form (38.74 KB)

For a dance or music event that occurs between 2:00am and 6:00am, but does not include an event taking place in a private residence.

Soliciting for Charity Business Licence application form (49.39 KB)

For societies wanting to solicit money for charity by phone, mail, or door-to-door.

Special Event Business Licence application form (122.07 KB)

An exhibition, show, concert or sporting event to be held at BC Place, Rogers Arena, the Pacific National Exhibition, or the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Special Event on Private Property Business Licence application form (124.40 KB)

For an event that will take place on private property. If alcohol is being sold or served, a Special Occasion Licence from the Liquor Control & Licensing Branch is required (contact any Provincial Govertment liquor store).

Teenage Dance Licence application form (54.04 KB)

To host a graduation dance (no fees required).

Electrical Work for Temporary Filming Business Licence application form (52.25 KB)

For filming companies that want to hire an electrical contractor to do electrical work at the film location.

Vehicles for hire licence application form (136.30 KB)

If you want to operate a vehicle that others hire to transport people or property in the City of Vancouver, complete a Vehicles for hire licence application.

Vehicles for hire home-based office licence application form (44.89 KB)

If your vehicles for hire office operates from your Vancouver home, complete the Vehicles for hire home-based licence application.

Ask. Tell. Connect.

Phone 3-1-1 to ask, tell, and connect with the City

Outside Vancouver:
604-873-7000

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More ways to contact us

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about business licences

Location
515 W 10th Avenue, at Cambie
Ground floor

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Hours
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Fax: 604-871-6394

licenceoffice@vancouver.ca

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about building and zoning

Location and mailing address
Development and Building Services Centre
Ground floor
515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Phone: 604-873-7611

Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Holiday closure
Wednesday, December 24, 2:30pm – Friday, January 2, 8:30am

Last modified: Tue, 02 Dec 2014 09:57:50

Business Licence Application for Transfer formLicence Bylaw 4450 including business licence feesElectrical Work for Temporary Filming Business Licence application formTeenage Dance Licence application formSpecial Event Business Licence application formSpecial Event on Private Property Business Licence application formLate Night Dance Licence application formSoliciting for Charity Business Licence application formRental Property Business Licence application formGeneral Business Licence application form