Start Your Business

Nanaimo Economic Development Office

Located in the heart of downtown, the Nanaimo Economic Development office can connect you to the people and information that you need to establish or expand your business in Nanaimo. If you are exploring a business idea, starting a business, or have an existing business, we can help!

aerial photo of Nanaimo's Service and Resource Centre

Contact Nanaimo Economic Development for more information. Office: 411 Dunsmuir Street, Nanaimo, BC, V9S 5J6  p: (250) 755-4465

Steps to Starting your business

Follow the online steps below, or download the City of Nanaimo Business Guide.

Research the local Business Climate

Looking for information about Nanaimo's economic drivers, demographics, and infrastructure? Visit Economic Data pages dedicated to helping you access ready-to-use local data & intelligence. 

Develop a Business Plan 

Developing a business plan is essential in ensuring long term success. A business plan assists in assessing business potential, as well as identifying the risks that may be involved. Community Futures located in Nanaimo is a great place to start for a business plan template and feedback. You will also find many useful resources on Small Business BC website.

Register your business

The first step in incorporation or formation of a business is the registration of your business name.  Apply for your  Business Name at BC Registry Services.

Get your Municipal Business License

Every business operating in Nanaimo, including those located in a private residence, must have a valid City of Nanaimo business license. Business license fees vary depending on the type of business as determined by municipal bylaws.  Apply for your Business License  

Home-Based Business

The City of Nanaimo encourages the operation of home-based businesses. In Nanaimo, home-based business is defined as an occupation or profession carried on as a business by a person  residing in the same dwelling unit as the business.

Home-based business is often a small start to a larger commercial or industrial undertaking. The idea behind home-based business is to encourage self-employed entrepreneurs to start up a business while keeping overhead low. Once the business is established to a point where a larger area is required, employees need to be hired or other conditions for a home-based business can no longer be met, it then becomes time for that business to relocate to appropriately zoned commercial or industrial premises.

Home-based business regulations restrict the scale and scope of business operations and regulate things like number of employees, parking, storage etc. Home-based business regulations 

Business Location

Permitted uses on a piece of property are governed by municipal plans, policies and bylaws. Before you commit to a location or buy or lease a building, check with the Current Planning Department to ensure the zoning of the property is suitable for the business. Sometimes, the use of space cannot be changed without a building permit or re-zoning.

Building permits

A building permit ensures that the proposed building complies with the BC Building Code and other municipal bylaws. Prior to issuing a business license, the building inspector must approve the proposed premises for occupancy. You may be required to apply for a building permit for the modifications required to accommodate your business.  A building permit is required when you do the following:

  • Construct a new building.
  • Add to an existing building.
  • Change the occupancy of an existing building.
  • Make interior renovations that may impact the direction of travel to an exit.
  • Enclose your carport or change your garage to living space.
  • Finish an existing basement.
  • Add or relocate plumbing, fire alarm or fire sprinklers.
  • Locate a temporary building.

Contact the Building Inspection Division for information on the specific requirements of your business and the requirements for making a building permit application.


The bylaw regulates the types, sizes and locations of signage based on zoning and location within the City. For more information regarding what signs are permitted, you can contact the Current Planning Department

Other Registrations

For other considerations and registrations, visit our Other Registrations page.

Last updated: June 20, 2024

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