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. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Starting a business in Canada depends on where your business is located, as each province has varying requirements. Thankfully, getting a Winnipeg business licence is pretty simple. Specialized businesses might have a few more rules or requirements, but here’s what you’ll need to know to get your business licence in Winnipeg.
Applying for a Winnipeg Business Licence
You must register your business before you can apply for a business licence in Winnipeg. After you’ve registered, you can contact Community Services and request a business licence application. Once you receive the Winnipeg Business Licence application, fill it out and make sure you have all necessary documents requested within the form. Some of the proofs you might need to provide include (but aren’t limited to):
- Proof of business insurance (and if you plan on having employees, small business employment insurance is a good idea)
- Written consent from the property owner(s) where the business will be located
- A review of your (and any other business partners) criminal records
When you submit a request to check your criminal history, you must provide adequate identification. You’ll need to provide two pieces of identification, and one of these must contain your photo.
Please see the Winnipeg Community Services website for a list of suitable photo and non-photo identification options.
Choose the type of business you’re creating from the Business Licence Index. You can review specific requirements pertaining to each business type on this page. For instance, if you plan on converting a part of your home into commercial space, see the rules and regulations for converted dwellings that share space with a business.
Review the fees for each business type, including licencing, inspection, building permit, and occupancy fees.
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How to apply
While a first-time user of Winnipeg Community services must register their business online, business licence applications must be mailed or delivered in person to Licence Services. However, you can submit your business licence renewal application online.
For your initial business licence application, please mail it with all required fees to:
Licence Services Main Floor
395 Main St.
Winnipeg, MB R3B 3N8
You can also bring your initial completed application, proofs, and payment to Licence Services in person Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm except on federal or provincial holidays.
Licence Services accepts payments in cash, by debit or credit card, or by cheque.
After you apply for and receive your business licence from Winnipeg Community Services, you must register your business with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), especially if you’ll be collecting the Goods and Services Tax (GST). The CRA assigns businesses GST and HST, or Harmonized Sales Tax, numbers. In Manitoba, businesses must collect and remit GST payments once they receive a GST number from the CRA.
According to Business Development Canada (BDC), business registration isn’t always strictly enforced, such as with home-based businesses. That said, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and ensure you have the proper documents to conduct business in Winnipeg.
Special Permits for Certain Businesses
It’s important to know the types of licences and permits required for the specific business you operate. For instance, a restaurant’s licences and permits include (but aren’t limited to):
- Proper zoning
- Commercial signage
Depending on your business, licence and permit fees can vary drastically. For this and other reasons, you may find it necessary to obtain a small business loan. In Square’s guide to business loans, you’ll learn the types of loans available and which loans are most apropos for certain business types or industries.
The specific licences and permits required of your business depend on varying factors, such as:
- The exact location of your business
- The nature of your specific business or activity
Each licence and/or permit may be required by a different governing body in relation to your business activities — there could be a federal or provincial rule that pertains to your business. Some of the most obvious regulations are for businesses involved in:
- The sale of cannabis or cannabis-related products
- The sale of alcohol
- Construction trades
- Gambling facilities
- Commercial or residential rentals
- Car hires
If you’re unsure whether you might have to provide additional documentation to the city to run your business, it’s best to check regulations on the city’s business website.
Fees for Winnipeg, Manitoba business licences vary. For instance, to start a new sole proprietorship in Winnipeg, you must file to reserve the business name you’ve chosen. The fee for name reservation is $45. There is no priority processing available. If your chosen business name is available, the reservation is good for 90 days, during which you must file to register the business name. The fee for business name registration is $60.
On the other hand, if the Entrepreneurship Manitoba Business Library finds that your chosen business name is already used by another business or is too similar to an existing business, you must choose another name, re-file a name reservation application, and pay the $45 fee again. Rather than throwing money away on unsure applications, you can request the Library’s assistance with a business name search before applying to reserve a business name.
Businesses Prohibited in Winnipeg
Depending on the nature of your business, you may not be allowed to open a location in Winnipeg. Consult The City of Winnipeg Charter Act to verify that your business type is not prohibited in the city.