Business Licences

Businesses, including non-profits that operate more than 12 days in a calendar year and short-term rentals, require a business licence to operate in the City of Nanaimo.

Types of business licences

Commercial - A business operating within a building or on a property that is commercially zoned and is located in the city of Nanaimo, as defined by the Zoning Bylaw.

Commercial Property Rental - A business that leases or rents either commercial rental units or residential units (does not include short-term rentals).

Home-Based - A business that operates within a dwelling unit or within an accessory building located on the same property as where the operator resides, as defined by the Zoning Bylaw.

Please note - if you are not the property owner and you are intending to have customers come to the residence, please include a declaration from the owner providing permission to operate the home-based business. A statement signed by the owner is acceptable, or submit this form with your application. Once completed, it can be included with your application for a business licence.  This form is not required if you are a mobile or online only business.

Mobile Food Vendor - A mobile food truck, trailer or cart that serves food or beverages to the public from designated or approved locations within the city.

Non-Resident - A business that is located outside of Nanaimo's city limits, but provides a service or an activity in Nanaimo.

Short-Term Rental - The temporary rental of a residence, secondary suite or a room for less than 30 consecutive days where the property is zoned for residential use and where it is established that it is the operator's primary residence.

Special Event - An event held in the city of Nanaimo for five or less consecutive days.

Temporary Business - A business that operates within the city of Nanaimo for up to and including 30 consecutive days in a calendar year.

Inter-Community - An add-on licence that permits a mobile business to provide a service or an activity within the boundaries of participating municipalities.  Further information and an up-to-date list of all participating municipalities is available here

How to apply for a business licence

To apply for a business licence, select the appropriate application form on the Get a Business Licence page. 

Update an existing business licence account

If you already have a business licence and need to update your information, you can do so online with your MyCity account or via the on-line form Update Existing Business Licence.

Renew your business licence

Business licences, except Special Event or Temporary licences, expire annually on December 31.  Invoices are typically mailed or emailed at the beginning of December.  If you have received an invoice, or if you'd like to renew prior to receiving an invoice, see Renew your Business Licence.

Search Business Licences

Business Licence Search - search businesses by keyword

or try the Advanced Business Licence Search


Not sure what licences or permits you need? Check out BizPaL for a checklist of permits available from all three levels of government. This is not required for a business licence in Nanaimo, but it may help you organize your permits.

BC Registries and Online Services

Additional resources and information pertaining to registering your business name or non-profit is available through BC Registries and Online Services:

Contact Us

Business Licensing 250-755-4482

Last updated: March 4, 2024

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