Steps to Starting a Business in Port Alberni

Steps to Starting a Business in Port Alberni

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A Business Licence is required by every business operating in the City of Port Alberni.  For new businesses, here is a step-by-step guide to applying for a Business Licence:

Step 1 - Pre-Planning  

If you are interested in starting a new business in Port Alberni consult our Business Information Guide; It provides resources and contacts for organizations that can help you with starting and operating your business.

If you are starting a new business, you must comply with a number of Municipal, Provincial and Federal regulations. The regulations that will apply depend on the type of business you intend to operate. Navigating the regulatory jungle is easier today than in years past thanks to some very helpful organizations.

Visit the following websites and resources to learn more:

If you have an established business and are interested in conducting business in Port Alberni, simply follow the application procedure. If you have doubts about whether your company or organization requires a Business Licence please contact Development Services (see bottom of page). The  fine for operating an unlicensed business is $200 per day.

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Step 2 - Location and Zoning:

Select a Location - Zoning and Land Use

Whether you own, rent, or propose to invest in Port Alberni, zoning determines what you can use your property for, as well as how your neighbour can use his or her property. Prior to applying for a Business Licence, you will need to select a location.
Call or visit City Hall to consult with the Development Services Technician to discuss your proposed business operation and the location in which you intend to be situated.  Make sure you confirm that your chosen location is appropriately zoned for your business operations before purchasing or leasing property.
Zoning regulations vary in different areas of Port Alberni and can affect the type of business that you are allowed to operate.  CLICK HERE for Zoning Bylaw information or call 250.720.2850.
Confirm the Civic Address -    

It is not unusual to discover that a number on the doorway is incorrect or has never been approved by the City.  Always consult Development Services to obtain confirmation of the correct civic address for the property prior to communicating a business address to provincial or federal regulators, suppliers, customers, or ordering business stationary or calling cards.

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Step 3 - Supporting Documentation:

Prepare Paperwork

Depending on the type of business, there are a number of supporting documents that are required when submitting a Business Licence application, including:

  • Business Licence Application
  • Health Inspection certificate (if applicable - for more information contact Island Health (Vancouver Island Health Authority) at 250.519.3401 or visit:
  • Provincial Daycare Licensing.
  • North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) (if applicable)

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Step 4 - Application:

Complete a Business Licence Application Form

If you are starting a new a business it is important to follow the application procedure and obtain a Business Licence.   With the exception of Government and Crown Corporations, all businesses located or operating in the City are required to have a Business Licence.  Development Services issues Business Licences.

Application forms are available at City Hall, downloadable below, or through electronic email submission below:


Electronic submission:

Submit your completed application form and any supporting documentation:

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Step 5 - Approvals, Renewals, Changes, Payments:

Approval Process

  • Most Business Licence applications take approximately 30-45 business days to process, as a number of City departments must review and approve an application before a Business Licence can be issued. Some may not need inspection and can be processed quicker, while some may take much longer.
  • Approval is also required when the use of a business premise is changed, a property is developed, or building additions are undertaken, in order to ensure compliance with bylaws and regulations. A change of address application form must be filled out and brought to City Hall.
  • The Provincial and Federal governments may also have additional requirements that must be met before a business can legally operate.
  • You will be contacted by telephone or email upon completion to come in and pay for the business licence. The licence will be available downstairs at City Hall once the Business Licence/Development Services department finalizes your application. Acceptable methods of payment are cash, cheque, or debit card. If your licence has been prepaid you may choose to have it mailed to you.
  • Business Licences are effective from January 1st  to December 31st of the year, are non-transferable and the licence fees paid are non-refundable.


Business Licence Renewal

If you operate a business in Port Alberni, you are required to have a valid Business Licence, which is automatically renewed annually. Each December, you will receive a Business Licence Renewal Invoice in the mail which is payable by January 1 of the following year.  Click Here to see relevant fines. No business shall carry on business without renewing the licence and paying the annual fee. Please contact Development Services to cancel your business licence.

Changes to Your Business Licence

If you have a change of addresschange of name, or change of ownership, please fill out our Business Licence application form with the new changes.  

Note: If you propose to relocate a licensed business from the premises authorized by the business licence to a new premises, you may not commence operation of the business at the new premise until you have obtained the approval of Development Services for a transfer of the licence to the new premises. A new application form must be filled out and all steps to approval must be taken.

If your business has ceased to operate please inform Development Services.

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Other Business Requirements

Helpful information is also available by selecting from the links below:

  • Building Services
                If you need to renovate or alter your business space, visit our building services pages to find out what permits and regulations apply for your situation.  
  • The City's Mobile Vending Policy will apply if you are planning to operate as a mobile business/food truck.  For more information check out the Fire Prevention Mobile Vending Requirements.
  • The City of Port Alberni regulates the number, size, type, form, appearance and location of signs, with a sign bylaw tailored to various zones in the community.
  • Obtaining a Business License will require having your business inspected by the Fire Department to ensure that it is code compliant and meets safety standards.
  • The Province of BC regulates and monitors the liquor industry.  For more information about how the City is involved in this process please consult the Corporate Officer.
  • If your business will be discharging sewage into the sewer system, you are required to obtain a Waste Discharge Permit. For more information, contact the Engineering Department at 250.720.2830.   
  • Home Based Business
               All Home Occupations must obtain a  City of Port Alberni business licence. Your Home Occupation must be licensed to, and conducted by, a permanent resident of your home. 
  • Cannabis
               BC Cannabis Regulations & How It Affects Port Alberni
  • Bed and Breakfasts (B&B)
               If you are considering operating a B&B or making an application for a B&B, please read over the following building requirements

Have a question?

Check out our section here.

For more information, please contact
Contact Business Licensing

4850 Argyle Street
Port Alberni BC V9Y 1V8