Get a Business Licence

A business licence is required if you are conducting business for profit in or from Nanaimo. Find out how to apply for a business licence below.

How to apply

Apply for a business licence

  • in person at 411 Dunsmuir Street
  • online (see forms section below)
  • by mail: 455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, BC, V9R 5J6


Depending on the nature of your application, additional review and/or approval pertaining to zoning, Building Code, Fire Code, police, health, parks use or provincial requirements may be necessary before your business licence can be issued.

Business licence application forms

Pick the appropriate application form for your type of business:

Business location

Your business location is important. Before you purchase or sign a lease in a commercial or industrial zoned property, check with the Community Development Department first to make sure that you will be able to conduct business in the location you have chosen. The zoning and/or building bylaw requirements can differ depending on the intended use of the building or property. Sometimes, the use of space cannot be changed without a building permit or re-zoning.

Inter-community licences

Businesses that have a primary fixed location, but provide a service in two or more Vancouver Island communities, can purchase an inter-community business licence for an additional annual fee of $170. If this sounds right for you and your business, check out the Inter-Community Business Licence Bylaw link below for additional information.

Participating communities* in the Vancouver Island inter-community business licensing program include:

  • City of Campbell River
  • City of Courtenay
  • City of Duncan
  • City of Nanaimo
  • City of Parksville
  • City of Port Alberni
  • City of Victoria
  • District of Central Saanich
  • District of North Cowichan
  • District of Sooke
  • Town of Comox
  • Township of Esquimalt
  • Town of Lake Cowichan
  • Town of Ladysmith
  • Town of Qualicum Beach
  • Town of Sidney
  • Village of Cumberland

* This list will be updated as communities adopt the Inter-Community Business Licence Bylaw.


Business licences are valid for the year in which they are issued and expire annually on December 31. The business licence fee depends on the business type; however, in most cases, the annual fee is pro-rated for the first year depending on the business start date (refer to the Business Licence Bylaw for exceptions).

Payment of the business licence fee for a home-based, non-resident, special event or mobile food business is required before your application will be processed. Business licence fees are not refundable.

Business licence regulations

Mar 31
Apr 1 -
Jun 30
Jul 1 -
Sep 30
Oct 1 -
Dec 31
General $165 $123.75 $82.50 $41.25
Cabaret, Lounge, Pub $1,100 $825 $550 $275
Bank, Credit Union, Trust Company $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 $12.50
Inter-community $170 $127.50 $85 $42.50
Food truck / trailer / carts
see Mobile Food Vending

Temporary businesses:

CATEGORY Fee Additional Information
Carnival, Circus $165
Christmas Tree Sales $41.25
Flea Market, Craft Fair $165
Home Handicrafts - Daily $6
Home Handicrafts - Annual $41.25
Special Event $41.25

A temporary event which operates for five or fewer consecutive days.

Temporary - Other $165 A business that does not operate for more than 30 days in a calendar year.
Trade Show $41.25 An event 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 consecutive days at a time.

Payment methods

In person

You can pay for your business licence by:

  • cash
  • cheque or money order made payable to the City of Nanaimo
  • debit card; or
  • credit card.

Online or by phone

  • City of Nanaimo's online payment system
  • your financial institution's online payment system
  • over the phone with your credit card at 250-755-4482

Contact Us

Business Licensing 250-755-4482

Last updated: September 2, 2021

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