Get a Business Licence

A business licence is required if you are operating a business, including a non-profit that operates for more than 12 days in a year, short-term rental, special event or tradeshow in Nanaimo. Some exceptions apply, so if you're unsure if a licence is required, please feel free to contact us via one of the methods listed at the bottom of this page.

Business licence application forms

The following applications forms are available in a pdf format.  Please print, complete and forward to Business Licensing via email, mail or in person. 

Alternatively, you can complete an online form if your business is commercial, home-based, daycare, non-resident or non-profit via the following link: General Business Licence Application.

If you are applying for a short-term rental business licence, the online version is available via the following link: Short-Term Rental Application.

  • General (Commercial, Home-Based, Daycare, Non-Resident, Non-Profit and Inter-Community) PDF
  • Commercial Property Rental PDF
  • Short-Term Rental PDF
  • Special Event  PDF
  • Mobile Food Vendor PDF

Approvals

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 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 completing a building permit or re-zoning.

Check out our handy flowchart if you'd like further information on City processes as it pertains to zoning, building and licensing processes -  Commercial Property Lease or Purchase Requirements.

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 Central Vancouver Island / Vancouver Island inter-community business licensing program include:

  • City of Campbell River
  • City of Colwood
  • 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 Saanich
  • District of Sooke
  • Municipality of North Cowichan
  • Town of Comox
  • Town of Lake Cowichan
  • Town of Ladysmith
  • Town of Qualicum Beach
  • Town of Sidney
  • Town of View Royal
  • Township of Esquimalt
  • Village of Cumberland

More information on mobile business licences and the Province's small business initiative can be found here Mobile Business Licence Program.

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

Fees

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 of business 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 bylaws, regulations and guides

Payment methods

In person

  • cash
  • cheque or money order made payable to the City of Nanaimo
  • debit 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
business.licence@nanaimo.ca

Last updated: April 5, 2022

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