This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, accounting, or tax advice. The information contained herein is subject to change and may vary from time to time in your region. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional for specific advice for your business.
Starting a business in Victoria, the beautiful capital of British Columbia, is an exciting endeavour. Still, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure you meet BC requirements. For Victoria to issue you a business licence, you’ll have to meet specific city requirements. You may have to follow additional rules if you run a specialized business within particular sectors. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Applying for a Victoria Business Licence
Before applying for a business licence in Victoria, the city recommends downloading their guide for new businesses. If you intend to operate a short-term rental business, review Victoria’s updated guidelines for these businesses.
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with this information, it’s time to register your business in the province with BC Registry Services. To register as an incorporated business or a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll need to provide supporting documentation with your application. For the purposes of this article, we’re going to follow the application process for sole proprietorships and partnerships.
First, reserve your business name with the B.C. Registry. Your business name must be approved by BC Registry and cannot be identical, mimic, or conflict with the name of an existing BC business. Request and reserve your name online and pay the reservation fee at the time of application.
Next, after you receive approval of your business name (which can take up to two weeks), register your business. Registration processing can take up to 10 business days. Once processed, you will receive your business number, which you must provide to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and the City of Victoria when applying for a Victoria business licence.
Note: You must set up a MyCity Account to be eligible to apply for a business licence in Victoria.
Business Licence Types in Victoria
Victoria issues licences for several business types. The following are just a sampling of categories:
- Arts & Entertainment
- Business Services
- Food & Beverage
- Professional Services
- Personal Services
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Special Permits for Special Types of Businesses
When you apply, it’s worth noting that some businesses may require additional licences and permits. These may come from federal or provincial government regulations surrounding a business activity. For instance, cannabis retailers, cultivators, and manufacturers are permitted to conduct business in Victoria. Still, a provincial licence is required in addition to a city licence.
If you are unsure whether you might have to provide additional documentation to the city to run your cannabis business, it’s best to check out the step-by-step guide on the B.C. government website to learn more. Then follow the steps on the City of Victoria page covering zoning, legal use, and other steps to becoming a bonafide business owner in Victoria, B.C.
- Business name reservation: $30 (1- to 2-day Priority Service, $100)
- Sole proprietor or partnership registration: $40
Find other business licence fee information on the City of Victoria website.
You must pay business licence renewals by January 15 annually. There’s a grace period between January 16 and February 15. Licences not renewed by February 15 face a $25 late renewal fee and a potential $250 fine for operating a business with an expired licence. It’s, therefore, a good idea to renew your business licence early, before the busy season at the end of the year.