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Opening a business in Calgary

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This page provides general information on what you need to open a business in Calgary.

Register your business

All businesses operating in Calgary are required to register their business with The City of Calgary and get location approval for their business location.

  • Business licences are required depending on your activity, to promote individual and public safety. 
  • Businesses regulated by a Provincial or Federal oversight body typically do not need a licence, for example: accountants, lawyers, doctors.

Before you apply

Where will your business be located?

  • Home-based – business is run from your home
  • Commercial – business is run out of a commercial space
  • Non-resident – you live in a different city or town, and you do business in Calgary
  • Mobile – business is on the move. You still need a base of operations for these types of businesses, whether it be your home or a commercial space.

Learn more about location approvals

Who will own the business?

  • Sole proprietor – one person owns the business
  • Partnership – agreement between two or more people or companies
  • Corporation – a legal entity that is separate from its owners, the shareholders

What kind of business do you want to run?

  • Do you have a clear idea of exactly what kind of service, product, or facility you would like to operate?

Learn more about business licence types

How to apply for a business licence online

  1. Create a myID personal account to start the application process.
    Register at MyID personal accounts
  2. Go to and click on “Start a New Business”
  3. Enter your myID personal login information and start your application.
  4. Submit your application.

Timelines and fees

The timelines for approval of a business licence or registration can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required for your business type and location.

Know your requirements before signing a lease. 

Additional Resources

City of Calgary Bylaws

Why do you need a business licence?

The City of Calgary has a responsibility to ensure businesses operating within Calgary are registered or licensed municipally. This is to ensure proper regulations and safety rules are being followed, that businesses are located appropriately and to ensure all businesses are treated fairly.

To regulate business activities within the City, bylaws define what businesses need to be licensed, what types of approvals they require and how they will be inspected to ensure the rules are followed. This provides customer protection and ensures that businesses are held to a fair operating standard.

Do you need to register your business name?

A business name, or trade name, is used to represent your business to the public. Trade names can be registered at any Alberta registry.

You’re not required to register a trade name for a municipal licence, but you may need it to open a bank account in your company name. Corporations and registered partnerships will automatically register a tradename when they register the corporation or partnership with the province.

While a trade name registration does not grant ownership of the name, it gives proof that the name you chose is associated with your business.​

NOTE: customers who register a new business will automatically have a myID business administrator account created as part of the application process.

Where will your business operate?

Choosing where you will operate is a key step in starting a business in Calgary.

Every business in Calgary requires confirmation of location approval before being approved to open and operate. Certain types of businesses are only allowed to operate in certain areas, so it is important to know how your business will be operating and then choose an appropriate location.

How to get your Location Approvals

Choose which type of location you plan to operate from to read more about the location approvals you might need.

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Commercial based location

Your business will be run from a commercial or industrial location in Calgary.

Understanding what approvals will be required will help ensure you will be able to open your business with ease and on time. Your business may require Planning Approval or Building Safety Approval, or both in order to be approved to operate from your selected location.

These approvals are based on:

  • the location of the business,
  • the proposed business activities
  • how the space was used before your business.
  • Opening a Commercial-Based Business

    March 21, 2023

    Hear from the Development, Business & Building Services team about land use approval, permits, fees, and timelines to get your business approved and open sooner.

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Development Permit

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Tenancy Change

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Building Permit

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Trade Permits

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What are other things to consider?

Federal taxes, provincial taxes and GST

Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, you need to pay taxes on your profits. A bookkeeper or accountant will be the best source of information on the tax process. Find out more information on provincial taxes.

For federal tax information, visit the Canada Revenue Agency.

GST for businesses

The Canada Revenue Agency determines whether you need to collect GST. If you are required to collect GST, you need to register an account with the Canada Revenue Agency to receive your GST number.

Business improvement area (BIA) tax

Business improvement area (BIA) tax is billed annually to any business that occupies commercial space within an established business improvement area (BIA) in Calgary. It does not reflect a specific type of business or the profit of a business.

For more information on the administration or collection of business improvement area (BIA) and property taxes, visit Business Improvement Area (BIA) Tax or contact 311.

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