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Starting a business

What Is a Business Licence

A business licence is a document issued by a government authority that allows the owner of a business to operate within the country, province, territory, or municipality that issues the licence. While not all businesses require a licence or the same kind of licence, government agencies have the right to fine businesses operating without required licences, or even to shut them down.

In Canada, your small business may require several different types of permits and licences from different levels of government to operate legally. Canada Business Network offers a convenient search tool to help determine what licences or permits your business may require based on your location of operation and the type of business. You should also check with your specific municipality to determine what local permits may be required and to find out how to obtain a licence.

In addition to licences required based on location, separate business licences, registrations, and permits may also be required for your specific industry. For example, British Columbia requires special licences for businesses involved with mining, forestry or agriculture, and businesses that sell tobacco products require special permits in Quebec and Ontario. Quebec also requires special licensing for businesses involved with fuel, aquaculture, fishing, promotional contests, seniors’ residences, and courses spread out over multiple days, and other provinces have similar specific requirements.

Specific types of business may also have to meet requirements and regulations that don’t involve obtaining a permit or licence. Head to the Canada Business Network website to find the information you need to make sure your small business is properly licenced and permitted.

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