Business licences

Businesses operating in Waterloo may require a licence. Determine which type you need and apply online, in person or by mail. Fees range based on the licence. Processing time can take up to eight weeks, but may vary.

Businesses must comply with the business licence bylaw, applicable fire, zoning regulations, and all other applicable municipal, provincial and federal regulations. Other general conditions:

  • licences are non-transferable if a business is sold or moves to a new location
  • businesses that require multiple licences must apply for each separately

All licence applications require:

  • completed application through our online application form (hard copy forms available in person)
  • business owner authorization letter, if applicant is not the business owner
  • proof of insurance, minimum of $2 million dollar public liability insurance
  • proof of business status:
    • sole proprietor - copy of valid government issued photo ID
    • partnership - copy of valid government issued photo ID for all partners
    • corporation - corporation profile report or certificate of status/good standing issued in the past six months

Some business licences require an original copy of a criminal records check issued in the past six months. You can obtain this document at your local police service or online

How to obtain the proof of business status

Business name registration / Master Business Licence

An Ontario Master Business Licence is issued by the Government of Ontario and registers the operation name of your business. You can register your name through Service Ontario.

Corporation profile report

Provides current information on public record for a corporation. You can obtain this information through one of the following services:

Apply online

  1. Register or sign in to apply for a licence online. Note - this application is not Internet Explorer compatible.
  2. Enter and submit all required information.
  3. Pay with credit card (online debit cards not accepted).
  4. If the business licence requires a police check, apply for a background check online.

Licence types

General licence Food shop Beauty salon or barbershop
Motor vehicle facility Home occupation Residential contractor
Temporary vendor Dry cleaning or laundrette Food truck or trailer
Nightclub Refreshment vehicle

Private property parking enforcement

contractor and officer

Fair Pet shop Animals for entertainment
Portable sign lessor Donation box operator Newspaper vending box operator
Flea market  Auctioneer  

If you're not sure what licence type fits your business, contact us at 519-747-8785, TTY (for deaf) 1-866-786-3941 or bl@waterloo.ca 

General licence (retail or service)

If you're operating a retail store or offering service to the public such as a clothing store, personal fitness, tax services, payday loans, tutoring services, or a similar business, you will require this business licence. This licence is not required if any other licence type is required.


Food shop

Where food products are made or offered for sale, stored or sold but does not include a place which sells only bottled or canned beverages or pre-packaged candies other than those required to be kept frozen.

Required documents to apply:

  • fire safety plan submitted to the city's fire prevention division if the primary function of the business is to operate as a restaurant, cafe, bar or something similar and has an occupancy load of more than 31 persons, this must be submitted before applying for your business licence
  • declaration of compliance with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act
    • please contact fire prevention at 519-884-6030 x 23306 if you require additional information

Beauty salon or barbershop

Beauty treatments for hair, face, hands, feet, includes: waxing, tanning, body and ear piercing, micro-pigmentation, electrolysis and tattooing. 

Required documents to apply:

  • list of services offered
  • declaration of compliance with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act

Motor vehicle facility

New or used vehicle dealership, service station, repair shop, suppliers of new and used motor vehicle parts, vehicle inspection and insurance appraisal, vehicle rental and leasing, vehicle specialty and service shops. 

Required documents to apply:

  • fire safety plan submitted to the city's fire prevention division if any of the following conditions are met, this must be submitted before applying for your business licence:
    • occupancy load of more than 100 persons
    • flammable material spray operations and an occupancy load of more than 25 persons
    • quantities of flammable liquids exceeding 250 litres
    • quantities of flammable or combustible liquids exceeding 500 litres
  • declaration of compliance with Fire Protection and Prevention Act
    • please contact fire prevention at 519-884-6030 x 23306 if you require additional information

Home occupation

Business conducted within a home by a permanent resident of the home, but does not include a home office where clients are visiting, no product is stored, and no regular deliveries occur. 

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of criminal record check
  • proof that the applicant resides in the house the unit is associated with the business
  • a floor plan of the entire dwelling unit with accurate measurements
  • a parking plan showing the location of employee and customer parking

Residential contractor

Altering, repairing or renovating buildings or structures, completing plumbing work, drainage laying, paving, fence construction or installing pools at a residential property.

In addition to the required documents listed at the top of the page, you will need a copy of a criminal records check.


Temporary vendor

Selling or offering goods or services for a period of time less than 90 days.

Required documents to apply:

  • written permission of the property owner where the temporary vendor will be located
  • description of the goods and services to be offered
  • Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) approval for all equipment and appliances used which have not been approved by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) or Underwriters Laboratory of Canada (ULC)
  • If a structure or a tent is being used for an event, please check with the building department for zoning regulations

Dry cleaning or laundrette

Dry cleaning, dry dying, cleaning, pressing and spot or stain removal, or other similar applications to clothing or fabric or an establishment with automatic washing machines for public use. 

Required documents to apply:

  • declaration of compliance with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act
  • fire safety plan submitted to the city's fire prevention division if any of the following conditions are met, this must be submitted before applying for your business licence:
    • an occupancy load of more than 100 persons
    • the use of flammable or explosive chemicals and an occupancy load of more than 25 persons
    • quantities of flammable liquids exceeding 250 litres
    • quantities of flammable or combustible liquids exceeding 500 litres
      • please contact fire prevention at 519-884-6030 x 23306 if you require additional information

Food truck or trailer

A motorized vehicle or trailer which food products are prepared and sold, or offered for sale.

Required documents to apply:

  • proof of vehicle ownership
  • TSSA approval for all equipment and appliances not approved by the CSA or ULC
  • proof of an annual fire inspection
  • plan for the containment and disposal of grey water, grease and garbage
  • description of the type of food being served
  • if from a fixed location:
    • written permission from the property owner
    • site plan showing the location of the truck or trailer as it relates to other buildings on the property
  • certificate from a certified propane contractor confirming the equipment has been inspected and conforms with propane storage and handling regulation
  • if the vehicle is motorized:
    • proof the vehicle is licensed as a commercial vehicle
    • copy of the owner's valid driver's licence
    • proof of automobile liability insurance

Nightclub

Providing pre-recorded or live music for attendees, where food or beverages may be served, where the dance floor is greater than 10 sq.m. and where the occupancy load is greater than 100 persons. If food is served, a food shop licence may be required.

Required documents to apply:

  • fire safety plan submitted by the city's fire prevention division if the business has an occupancy load of more than 31 persons, this must be submitted before applying for your business license
  • copy of criminal record check
  • declaration of compliance with the Fire Protection and Prevention Act
    • please contact fire prevention at 519-884-6030 x 23306 if you require additional information

Refreshment vehicle

Class A - motorized vehicle that travels and offers only pre-packaged foods, pre-bottled beverages and iced confectioneries, including ice cream. 

Class B - non-motorized vehicle (such as a bicycle), which pre-bottled beverages and packaged food is sold.

Required documents to apply:

  • proof of motorized vehicle ownership
  • certificate from a certified propane contractor confirming the equipment has been inspected and conforms with proper propane storage and handling
  • if the vehicle is motorized:
    • proof the vehicle is licensed as a commercial vehicle
    • copy of the owner's valid driver's licence
    • proof of automobile liability insurance

Private property parking enforcement contractor and officer

Contractor - providing parking enforcement services on private property.

Officer - on behalf of a private property enforcement contractor, provides parking enforcement on private property.

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of criminal records check or security guard licence
  • proof of the property owner's consent to conduct parking enforcement on their property
  • enforcement officers are required to complete a training course before being issued a licence, please contact our office to schedule a training date

Fair

If you're hosting an exhibition, circus, menagerie and other similar show, which may include amusement equipment. If animals are used an animal entertainment licence may be required.

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of the criminal records check
  • written approval from the owner of the property being used
  • evidence that all employees of the fair are covered by Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB)
  • list of all exhibits, amusement equipment, games, shows and stalls
  • evidence and approval from the TSSA to carry on the business of operating amusement devices

Pet shop

Animals are sold, kept, groomed or offered for sale as pets, excluding veterinary practices.

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of criminal records check
  • list of the types of animals sold

Animals for entertainment

Using animals to act or perform for the entertainment of individuals. 

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of criminal records check
  • written approval from the owner of the property being used for entertainment
  • site plan of the event showing where and how the animals will be sheltered from the elements
  • description of the number, type and use of the animals for the event

Portable sign lessor

Installing, leasing or renting portable signs.

No additional documents are required, other than what is stated at the top of the page.


Donation box operator

Operating donation box(s). Additional permit is required for each donation box location.

Donation box means any container used for the purpose of collection clothing, donated by the public on an ongoing basis and as part of the regular activity of the operator.

Required documents to apply:

  • copy of criminal records check
  • list of locations of all boxes within Waterloo
  • site plan for each donation box location
  • written permission from each property owner where a donation box is located
  • a permit for each donation box, additional application is required

Newspaper vending box operator

Operating a newspaper box(s). Additional permit is required for each newspaper vending box location.

Newspaper vending box means any box, crate or machine, located on city property which newspaper, magazines or other publications are dispensed, distributed or circulated to the general public. 

Required documents to apply:

  • list of locations of all boxes located on City of Waterloo property
  • permit for each newspaper vending box, additional application is required

Flea market

Collection of temporary vendors operating from one location to sell or offer to sell goods or services to the general public.

In addition to the required documents listed at the top of the page, you will need a list of all the vendors at the flea market and a description of the goods or services they will be offering.


Auctioneer

Any person selling or putting up for sale: goods, wares, or merchandise by public auction.

In addition to the required documents listed at the top of the page, you will need an original criminal records check.