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Get a business licence

Businesses not allowed in Vancouver

A person cannot apply for a licence for any business described in Schedule A of the Businesses Prohibition Bylaw.

If you want to have a business in the City of Vancouver, you need a business licence. 

Business owners are required to get a business licence, but not employees.

Types of businesses that require a business licence:

  • 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

How to apply

Step 1 - Contact us

If you are applying for a commercial business licence, please call us first to determine what type of licence you should apply for.

Phone 311

Outside Vancouver?
Phone: 604-873-7000

Step 2 - Apply

  • Fill out the appropriate business licence application form.
  • Get the documents you need to complete your business licence application.

Step 3 - Submit

Submit, either in person, email, or mail, your:

  • Application
  • Required documents
  • Application fee

Dance application forms

  • Late Night Dance Licence  (80 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.
  • Teenage Dance Licence  (54.04 KB)
    To host a graduation dance (no fees required).

Special events/filming

  • Special Event Business Licence  (136.22 KB)
    An exhibition, show, concert or sporting event to be held at BC Place, Rogers Arena, the Pacific National Exhibition, or the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre.
  • Special Event on Private Property Business Licence  (265.36 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 Government liquor store).
  • Electrical Work for Temporary Filming Business Licence  (86 KB)
    For filming companies that want to hire an electrical contractor to do electrical work at the film location.

Vehicles for hire

  • Vehicles for Hire Licence  (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  (44.89 KB)
    If your vehicles for hire office operates from your Vancouver home, complete the Vehicles for Hire Home-Based Licence Application.

You must include the following documents with your business licence application as a business owner, representative applying for the licence, or as a limited or incorporated busines. 

Business owner Representative applying for the licence  A limited or incorporated business 
  • A copy of the business owner's current, government-issued photo ID
  • A copy of the business owner's current, government-issued photo ID
  • Their own current, government-issued photo ID
  • A letter of authorization from the business owner

Download a letter of authorization template  (59 KB)

  • A copy of the business owner's current, government-issued photo ID
  • The provincial or extra-provincial certificate of incorporation issued by the BC Corporate Registry
  • The Notice of Articles showing the company's list of directors

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

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

Building and zoning approval

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.

Staff at the Development and Building Services Centre will review your proposed business location. Depending on the zoning, your business may or may not be permitted. Or your business may only be permitted after a development permit is obtained. A building permit or a special inspection may also be required.

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre about building and zoning at 604-873-7611.

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.

Engineering approval

Businesses must have waste disposal set up for garbage, recycling, and green waste.

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

Business license fees are non-taxable.

Type of fee Fee
Application fee for new business licence $56 (non-refundable)
Annual licence fee Depends on business type

To check the licence fee:

How to pay

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)

 Credit card cheques are not accepted.

Hours of operation Location and mailing address Phone  Email
  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
  • Tuesday, Thursday: 8:30am to 4:00pm
Development and Building Services Centre
Ground floor
515 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Z 4A8
  • 311
  • Outside Vancouver: 604-873-7000

licenceoffice@vancouver.ca

See when your queue number is called

Parking

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

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 mail, or email 8 to 10 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.

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