Get a Business Licence

If you want to carry on business in or with the City of Nanaimo, you need a business licence.  Find out how to apply for a business licence and approvals below.

How to apply

You can apply for a business licence

  • In person, 411 Dunsmuir Street at the Service and Resource Centre (SARC)
  • Online Application Form (see below)
  • By mail, 455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, BC  V9R 5J6


You might require other approvals before your business licence is issued.  If so, depending on the nature of your application, it may be referred for zoning, building and/or fire code, police, health, parks use or provincial approvals.

Business Licence Forms

Pick the appropriate form for your type of business.

Business Licence Application - Regular (Commercial) Online Application or PDF

Business Licence Application - Home-Based Online Application or PDF

Business Licence Application - Child Care Online Application or PDF

Business Licence Application - Special and Temporary Events PDF

Business Licence Application - Non-Resident Online Application or PDF

Important Licence Notes

Your business location is important.  Before you purchase or sign a lease for your business location, check with the Community Development Department first to make sure that you will be able to conduct your type of business in the location you chose.

Your requirements under the zoning and building bylaws can be different and each space in a building could have its own approved use and sometimes the use of that space cannot be changed without an approval or a permit, or both.

Your business licence will expire annually on December 31.

If you close or sell your business, you must inform the Business Licence Office in writing to advise that you are no longer operating; otherwise you will continue to receive renewal notices and show outstanding fees.

If you relocate your business or move, you must notify the Business Licence Office of the address change.  Depending on the nature of your business, additional information may be required.

Companies doing business in more than one central Vancouver Island Community with one primary fixed location, can purchase an inter-community business licence for an additional annual fee of $150.00.

Participating communities in the central Vancouver Island inter-community business licencing program include:

  • City of Campbell River
  • City of Courtenay
  • City of Duncan
  • City of Nanaimo
  • City of Parksville
  • City of Port Alberni
  • District of North Cowichan
  • Town of Comox
  • Town of Lake Cowichan
  • Town of Ladysmith
  • Town of Qualicum Beach
  • Village of Cumberland

Business Licence Regulations

Business Licence Bylaw
Inter-Community Business Licence Bylaw
Home-based Business Rules and Regulations


Your business licence fee depends on your business type.  The annual fee in your first year will be pro-rated based on the business start date.

CATEGORY JAN 1 - MAR 31 APR 1 - JUN 30 JUL 1 - SEP 30 OCT 1 - DEC 31
General Category $165 $123.75 $82.50 $41.25
Cabaret/Lounge, Marine Pub $1,100 $825 $550 $275
Bank/ Credit Union/ Trust Co $1,100 $825 $550 $275
Casino $3,000 $2,250 $1,500 $750
Escort Agency/ Massage Parlour $3,000 $2,250 $1,500 $750
Child Care $50 $37.50 $25.00 $12.50
Intercommunity Business Licence
(not pro-rated)
$150 $150 $150 $150
All food truck, food trailer or food carts see Mobile Food Vending        

Temporary Businesses

Carnival/ Circus $165
Christmas Tree Sales $41.25
Flea Market/Craft Fair Annual $165 5 days
Home Handicrafts - Daily $6
Home Handicrafts - Annual $41.25
Special Event – (Organizer per event or individual licencees) $41.25 A temporary event which operates for five (5) or fewer consecutive days.
Temporary - Other $165 A business that does not operate for more than 30 days in a calendar year
Trade Show Organizer per event $41.25 An event carried on to promote and sell products from a fixed premises, the activity of which is intended to promote further sales; and which does not operate for more than five (5) consecutive days at a time.


Payment methods

If you apply for your business licence in person, you can pay for your business licence by

  • Cash
  • Cheque or money order made payable to the City of Nanaimo
  • Debit card
  • Credit card

If you do not apply in person, we will send you an invoice for the fee.  Your business licence will be processed after we receive payment.

You can pay for your business licence by:

  • City of Nanaimo online payment system
  • Your financial institution online payment system
  • Over the phone with your credit card at (250) 755-4482

Last updated: August 30, 2017

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