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Resources to help your business grow, including one-on-one support to get your new business off the ground.

Are you thinking of opening a small business in a commercial location? The City requires you to have a business licence and the appropriate permits in place before you can occupy and open your business. This chart is an overview of the general process that you may need to follow.

Small Business Flow Chart

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Opening a Small Business in a Commercial Location

1. Research

Prior to submitting your business license, we encourage you to take some time to research your business.

  1. Determine if your location is zoned appropriately. You can do this by contacting our one-on-one support program to go through your potential locations. We can help you identify whether your dream location is zoned appropriately. While you are doing this, we suggest you arrange for a conditional lease, if you choose to sign one at this stage.
  2. Research the regulatory requirements for other agencies, such as Alberta Health Services, and Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis. Depending on your business, there may be other important regulations to consider.
  3. Do you need help with business planning or financing? There are some great local organizations that can help you such as Business Link and Alberta Women Entrepreneurs.
2. Apply for a Business Licence

The first step in the City’s permitting and licencing process is to apply for your business licence. This application will automatically trigger the next step for you in this journey, which is confirming your zoning and whether you will need a Development Permit.

Apply for your licence by visiting the business licensing page.

3. Zoning Approval

Ensure your proposed business activities can be performed at this location by obtaining a zoning approval.

Upon reviewing your business licence application, City staff will advise if:

  • Your business will need to apply for a development permit to obtain zoning approval. 
  • Your business already has zoning approval and therefore do not need to apply for development permit.
  • If you would like help with this application, please reach out to the one-on-one support staff.
4. Building Permit Review

This step ensures your building is designed and built safely if you are doing any renovations or upgrades. 

Upon reviewing your Business Licence application, City staff will advise if you are required to obtain any building permits. Once you obtain all of your permits, you may start construction. 

If you are not doing any work on your location then you can move on to the next step. 

5. Inspections and Occupancy Permit
  • Before you are able to open your doors to customers, the City needs to conduct various safety inspections depending on your building. 
  • After the final inspection, an Occupancy Permit will be issued indicating permission to open and the maximum number of people allowed to occupy it at any time. 
  • Even if no construction happens, you may still need to have your site inspected. This is prompted by your business licence application.
6. Referrals

There are other agencies that are required to do inspections on most businesses, including Edmonton Fire Services and Alberta Health Services. The City will refer your business to these agencies so they can complete their inspections. 

Please note - Edmonton Fire Services may determine that your occupancy level is different from the Safety Codes Officer. If this is the case, please note that your final occupancy needs to be the lower of the two numbers.

7. Business Licence Granted

Once you have completed these steps, the City will finalize your application and grant you a business licence.

Your Success is Our Business

Do you have questions about how to start a new business in Edmonton? 

We are here to support you with:

  • Walking you through the City’s regulatory process
  • Location searching
  • Business licences
  • Development permits
  • Building permits

Contact us for one-on-one support by filling out the following form