Merchandise display permit
A merchandise display permit lets business owners display City-approved products on the sidewalk in front of their business. Fruit and vegetable bins, flower carts, and book racks make for vibrant Vancouver sidewalks.
The permit is valid from July 1 to June 30 of the following year, and can be renewed annually. The fees are based on the amount of space occupied by your displays.
On this page:
- About merchandise displays and this permit in depth
- Permit requirements
- Insurance requirements
- How to apply
- Maintain your permit
- Renew your permit
For information on the construction, placement, and uses of merchandise displays, as well as allowed merchandise, read:
To apply for a merchandise display permit, you need a current business license with the City of Vancouver.
You also need to ensure that the space around your business is suitable for a merchandise display. The merchandise display must:
- Be located immediately next to the business, along either the front or the side of the building
- Leave enough space on the sidewalk for pedestrians to move around the display and any other obstacles like street lights, parking meters, or trees. The minimum distance is 2.4 m or 8 feet
- Not block exits from the businesses next to it
- Not block access to fire department connections, sewer connections, and so on
When you apply for and renew your permit, you must show proof of liability insurance coverage which meets the following minimum requirements:
- Be a Commercial General Liability policy or equivalent
- Have a minimum inclusive limit of $2,000,000 Public Liability and Property Damage (P.L. and P.D.)
- Have a Cross-liability clause
- Name the City of Vancouver as an additional insured
Download our Liability Insurance Certificate PDF file (175 KB), forward it to your insurance company to complete, and upload it during your application.
Don't buy or make display units before your permit is issued. If your displays do not meet the requirements, you will need to make modifications and resubmit your drawings.
- Collect your documents. You will need these documents before you apply:
- A copy of your current business license
- A drawing that show the plan for the outdoor display area, including:
- Measurements of the sidewalk and building frontage
- Distance of the proposed display to the nearest sidewalk obstructions (such as trees, poles, parking meters, benches, bus shelters, and bike racks)
- Location of your displays relative to your building frontage
- A drawing or picture of your actual display units, including:
- Dimensions (height, width, and length)
- Locking wheels, if applicable
- The $55.20 application fee (non-refundable)
- Apply for your permit online. Register for an account and submit your application:
- The merchandise program coordinator will inspect your site.
- If the site is suitable for an outdoor display, and if all other information is complete and accurate, you will receive an invoice and Liability Insurance Certificate from the City of Vancouver.
- Get your insurance broker to fill out the Liability Insurance Certificate
- Send your invoice payment and completed Liability Insurance Certificate to the City of Vancouver.
- Receive your permit and set up your merchandise displays in the approved area.
|Permit fee (per square metre)||$53.35/m² + GST|
|Minimum fee||$138.89 + GST|
|Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee||$35|
You can pay the permit fees by cheque cash, debit, or credit card in person. Fees are non-refundable.
Once you have your permit, you need to:
- Post the permit on the front window of your business, in public view, at the address specified on your permit
- Keep your account current and pay any outstanding fees, fines, or charges
- Notify the City about any ownership or insurance-related changes
- Maintain all of the requirements as agreed, including, but not limited to, the ones printed on the permit
Permits cannot be sold or transferred. If you sell the business, your permit is void and the new owner must apply for their own permit.
If you do not follow these program regulations, the City may:
- Suspend, not renew, or cancel your permit immediately
- Impound your merchandise including any equipment or display units
- Bill your business for impound fees and charges
- Refuse to renew a permit
To renew your permit, log into your online account. You need to:
- Maintain a current business license with the City
- Maintain appropriate liability insurance
- Pay the permit fee on or before July 1 of that year