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Have a question about starting or operating a small business in Edmonton? Here are some common questions that we receive from business owners. If you do not see the answer to your question here, please reach out to the small business team at smallbusiness@edmonton.ca.

Permits

How do I submit my permit application?

You are able to submit your permit application in person at the Edmonton Service Centre or online. Visit our permits page for application information.

Where do I check the status of my application?

The easiest way to check the status of your permit application is to call the 311 Contact Centre. Alternatively, if you applied for your permit online, you can look up its status by checking your dashboard on the Self Service website. You can also contact the City’s One-on-One Small Business Support team by email.

How do I know if I can operate my business in my desired location?

The first step in opening your business will be to make sure you are located in the appropriate zone. All businesses require zoning approval.

What is a zone, and why is it important to have zoning approval?

If you are starting a new business, moving your business or changing business activities in an existing business, you will need to obtain zoning approval to ensure that your business meets the zoning rules in your location. 

Business owners are strongly encouraged to obtain zoning approval before signing a lease.

Alternatively, you can sign a conditional lease where the lease is not binding until zoning approval is obtained. If you have questions about signing conditional leases, please contact Business Link for assistance with understanding commercial leases.

Visit Zoning for Approval for more information on how to identify which zone you are in and how to obtain zoning approval.

A development officer or safety codes officer has emailed me back with requested changes. I don’t understand what they are asking, what can I do?

A development or safety codes officer may contact you if modifications need to be made to either your permit application, or the improvements/changes outlined in your permit application.

If the requested modifications are unclear to you, the best course of action is to ask the officer who contacted you for clarity. You may also want to speak with your project’s designer, contractor, or professional consultant (eg. an architect or engineer) at this time.

Finally, if you have been working with the City’s One-on-One Small Business Support team, you can also reach out to them for additional support. 

I want to renovate my business. Do I need a permit?

You may depending on the renovations you wish to perform. Permits are not required for cosmetic changes such as painting, flooring removal/installation, and cabinetry work. Most construction, equipment, and activity changes, however, do require a permit. To see examples of renovations that require a permit, visit the Changes to Existing Buildings page.

Other Permits

What steps do I need to take to add a sign to my business?

Visit our Signs page to learn more about guidelines, regulations and permitting processes surrounding signage.

What steps do I need to take to add a patio to my business?

There are two types of outdoor seating options:

  • An Outdoor Patio is an open or partially covered seating area with table services accessed from an existing eating or drinking establishment located on private property. Establishment of a commercial outdoor patio is handled through the standard development permit process by Development Services. 
  • A Sidewalk Café is essentially an extension of the uses of an approved licensed restaurant, specialty food and/or beverage services with provision of additional seating onto a designated area within the adjacent public road right-of-way that includes sidewalks, boulevards, roadways and alleyways.

For more information, visit our Sidewalk Cafes page.

Licensing

Do I need a license to operate my business?

Generally, every person or company that conducts business in Edmonton is required to have a business licence. There are a few exemptions, specifically for professions which are regulated by other legislation. Examples of these professions include Lawyers, Chartered Professional Accountants, and Physicians.

Businesses located outside the City who operate in Edmonton are also required to obtain a license. Most often, they would only need to apply for a Non-Resident Business License. This includes trades and contractors as well as mobile vendors such as food trucks. For any business licensing questions, visit the City’s business licensing section.

Can I operate my business out of a residential location?

Yes. A business that operates out of a residential location is known as a Home-Based Business. In order to operate a business out of a residential location, you will require a Home-Based Business License.

I want to operate a food truck or be a market vendor - what permit(s) are required?

If you sell, display or distribute goods or services on a public street or other public space, you require a Vending Permit.

I am interested in starting a cannabis business - what steps do I need to take?

If you have questions about opening a cannabis retail business, refer to Cannabis Legalization or contact cannabislegalization@edmonton.ca for more information.

Doing Business With The City

How do I get a City contract?

Any individual or company can do business with the City, as long as they can provide the needed products and services in the right place, at the right time, and at the right price. To do business with the City, visit our Selling to the City page.

I would like to purchase or lease City property. Who do I speak with?

For a listing of available properties to sell or lease, visit our Doing Business with the City page. 

I would like to purchase surplus equipment from the City. Where do I find more information on this?

The City sells its surplus vehicles, equipment, tools, furniture and sundries by public auction. For more information, visit the Surplus Vehicle & Equipment Sales page.

Construction

There is construction planned for in front of my business. Where can I find more information, and what can I do during this period?

Information on the City of Edmonton’s construction projects can be found on the Construction on Your Streets Page.

Road construction is a necessary part of building and maintaining our roads and transit systems, and updating our utilities. However, we know it can be a frustrating experience for some business owners. During road construction, business owners could use this period as an opportunity for renovations. The City has several grant programs that can assist business owners with performing renovations during times of construction. Please see the links below to determine if your property/business is eligible to receive grant funding:

There are also a variety of business-focussed grant programs offered by the Provincial and Federal governments. The Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta both maintain a comprehensive list online.

How will we know what City and utility construction will be taking place in front of my business?

For more information on any specific construction project, you can visit the Building Edmonton page. This page is best viewed on a desktop computer.

Other

Do businesses in Edmonton pay Business Tax?

The City does not collect municipal business tax from businesses. 

For More Information

Email smallbusiness@edmonton.ca

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