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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the City of Nanaimo Business Licence Section office located?

We are located in the Service and Resource Centre (SARC) at 411 Dunsmuir Street on the first floor.

Our hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday (closed all Statutory Holidays).

Telephone enquiries:  (250) 755-4482
Facsimile:  (250) 755-4512
Email enquiries: business.licence@nanaimo.ca

Mailing Address:

City of Nanaimo
Business Licence Section
455 Wallace Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5J6

Do I require a Business Licence?

If you carry out business within the City of Nanaimo boundaries, you are required to have a valid City of Nanaimo Business Licence.  See "BUSINESS LICENCE BYLAW 1998 NO. 5351".

Why does the City of Nanaimo require Business Licences?

The primary purpose for the requirement of a Business Licence is to ensure that the City's municipal land use regulations, building and fire codes, health regulations, and all other relevant community safety requirements are adhered to by businesses.  The statistical information obtained during the application process assists the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation Office (NEDCO) with supporting Nanaimo's business community.

Can I operate a business from my residence?

Yes, certain types of businesses are permitted to operate from your home, with some restrictions, pursuant to "ZONING BYLAW 2011 NO. 4500".  In order to minimize disturbances to surrounding residential properties, "ZONING BYLAW 2011 NO. 4500" restricts the type of business activities, the size of area used, parking requirements, and storage impacts.  Retail use is specifically excluded as a home-based business.

What are the fees for a Business Licence?

Business Licence fees are defined in Schedule 'A' of "BUSINESS LICENCE BYLAW 1998 NO. 5351"  The fee to participate in the Inter-Community Business Licence (ICBL) Program is an additional $150.00 annually, allowing a mobile business to conduct business in any of the 12 participating municipalities as defined in "INTER-COMMUNITY BUSINESS LICENCE BYLAW 2013 NO. 7176".

How do I obtain a Business Licence?

The various Business Licence application forms are available in person from the Business Licence Section, located at 411 Dunsmuir Street, or can be obtained online on our website.

Business Licence Resources, Forms and Regulations

What do I need to bring with me when applying for a Business Licence?

The required fee for your type of business, along with any relevant certificates or licences required by Provincial or Federal governments to operate the business.

How long does it take to get a Business Licence?

The processing time for a Business Licence application varies based on the type of licence and approvals required.  Typically, a standard Business Licence is issued within seven to ten working days, but may take longer depending on the nature of the business activity.  Business Licence Staff will review your application, ensure it is complete, forward it to the appropriate agencies for the necessary approvals, and can advise you of the status of your application at any time during the process.  Upon receipt of the required approvals, Business Licence Staff will approve and issue the Business Licence, sending it to you by mail. 

How long is a Business Licence valid?

Most Business Licences are issued for a calendar year - January 1 to December 31.

How do I renew my Business Licence?

If you have an active Business Licence, a renewal notice will automatically be sent in the mail during the month of December and is required to be paid prior to December 31.  Payments can be made in person, at most financial institutions, online banking, Canada Post, through MyCity, or over the phone with a credit card. 

Are there consequences for operating a business without a valid Business Licence in Nanaimo?

Yes, you could be subject to fines of $100.00 per day.

If my business is no longer operating, what do I do?

You must inform the Business Licence Section in writing by mail or email: business.licence@nanaimo.ca to advise that you are no longer operating; otherwise, you will continue to receive renewal notices and show outstanding fees.

Does my commercial vehicle require an additional permit?

Yes, all vehicles used by a person on a highway within the City of Nanaimo boundaries, which is

  1. a commercial vehicle defined by, and licences under the Commercial Transport Act; or
  2. a vehicle not so licenced that is used for the collection, delivery, or both, of merchandise or other commodity in the ordinary course of a business undertaking,

require a Commercial Vehicle Licence Decal.  Commercial Vehicle Licence Decals can be purchased from the Finance Department, located on the first floor of the Service and Resource Centre (SARC) at 411 Dunsmuir Street.  The required fees are based on the gross vehicle weight (GVW).  You will be required to bring in the vehicle's registration at the time of obtaining a decal.  Telephone enquiries can be directed to (250) 755-4415.

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