Operating a small business

Key resources to run your business smoothly and sustainably.

COVID-19 update: support for businesses

April 6, 2020: We recognize the difficulties to businesses posed by the current situation and are committed to helping them weather the COVID-19 crisis. 

Review City actions and support available

Licences

You need a business licence to operate in Vancouver – whether it's commercial, industrial, home-based, or out-of-town.

Business licences

Tips

  • Business licences expire every year on December 31.
  • You can renew your licence in person, by email, and by mail.
  • Report changes to your business name, trade name, address, or licence type before you renew.

Renew and manage your business licence

Update your business licence account

Update account

We can update your business name, trade name, mailing or business address, or licence type immediately if you do it in person.

You'll need to:

  1. Fill out a transfer form.
  2. Attach supporting documents (for name change).
  3. Bring in or send your form and documents.
  4. Get zoning, building, and licence approvals, if needed.
  5. Pay the fee (amount depends on change).

Get forms, fees, and contact details

Transfer a licence

We can transfer a business licence immediately if you come in person and meet all the requirements. 

You'll need to:

  1. Fill out a transfer form.
  2. Bring in or send your form.
  3. Get zoning, building, and licence approvals, if needed.
  4. Pay the $151 fee.

Get forms and contact details

Get a copy

Request a copy of your original licence in writing.

Send it by email, mail, or in person. The fee is $5.

Get contact details and what we'll need to know

Close your account

Let us know if you close your business and we won't send renewal notices in the future.

Tell us by phone, email, or in person.

Get contact details and what we'll need to know

Finance

Explore funding options, including grants from the BC and Canadian governments.

Taxes

Update your structure

A sole proprietorship, registering a partnership, incorporating your business, or amalgamating corporations each have pros and cons. Find out which is best for you.

Read an information sheet  
Small Business BC

Get help:
Legal advice  
Small Business BC

Add locations

You may want to keep track of your tax, payroll, and import / export accounts separately if you add services or staff, or add a location.

Opening more locations, branches, divisions
Canada Revenue Agency

Import and export goods

If bring goods into Canada or send them internationally, you need to follow trade regulations, labelling rules, and tariffs and duties.

Read an import guide  
Small Business BC

Read an export guide  
Small Business BC

Get help:
Paid import/export advice  
Small Business BC

Doing scientific research

You may qualify for federal or provincial tax credits to conduct experimental research and development.

Federal tax incentive program
Government of Canada

Provincial tax credit
Government of BC

Tax credits or exemptions

Check the list of available corporate income tax credits.

Corporate income tax credits
Government of BC

Plan

Continue market research

Keep an eye on your target market and location, know your industry and competitors, monitor trends, and forecast your costs and revenues.

Follow a checklist  
Small Business BC

View business district market data  
Bizmap

Get help:
Paid research services  
InfoAction – Vancouver Public Library

Build or renovate

Get the right permits so that your space and the improvements you make meet building, zoning, safety, and parking standards.

Check when you need a permit

Get help:
Contact our Commercial Renovation Centre

Get more tips on locating and building

Manage waste properly

You're responsible for finding a waste service provider to collect your business's garbage, food scraps, and recycling.

How to dispose of waste properly

Reducing single-use items

Get tips to prevent food waste

Storing dumpsters on City property

Keep updated insurance

As your business grows and changes, protect it with appropriate coverage for everything from damaged stock to malpractice.

Apply for workplace insurance
Worksafe BC

What you need to protect your business
Small Business BC

Business insurance
ICBC

Join your local BIA

Business improvement areas (BIAs) are non-profit associations of property owners and business tenants.

They promote their business districts and members, and support the local economy and community.

Find business improvement areas

Get support

Immigrant entrepreneurs

Skilled Immigrant InfoCentre  

Indigenous entrepreneurs

Province of BC Aboriginal Small Business Resources  

Entrepreneurs with disabilities

Community Futures Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program  

Women entrepreneurs

Women’s Enterprise Centre  

Young entrepreneurs

Futurpreneur  

Driving

You need an annual commercial vehicle licence to use loading zones and lanes. Any lane next to a commercial property is a commercial loading zone.

Licensing your vehicle

A commercial vehicle licence allows you to:

  • Stop in commercial zones and lanes for up to 30 minutes to load and unload materials
  • Stop in passenger zones for up to 30 minutes until noon only to load and unload materials
  • Use a metered space for free on any day up to 10:30am

Getting a commercial vehicle licence

Reserve spaces and meters

Get a temporary permit seven days in advance to reserve parking spaces or parking meters for:

  • Construction work
  • Moving trucks
  • Special deliveries
  • Service work

Applying for a permit

Access and park on Granville Mall

Buses, taxis, and limousines have automatic access to Granville Street between Hastings and Smithe streets.

Other commercial vehicles need a Granville Mall permit.

Get permit fees and by-law details

 

Plan for road closures

Find information on road closures and delays due to construction projects and special events.

Get road closure details

Review tips for businesses (2 MB)


Report

Quickly report issues and request City services with our VanConnect app.

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