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Starting a New Business

If you are a current business owner or prospective business owner planning to open a new business, you may need help developing a business plan, understanding requirements such as building permits and accessing resources available to you. 

Get your business licence

If you’re starting a new business, you may need to be licensed. Learn more about the type of businesses that require a licence to operate in Kingston. 

We require licences for specific types of businesses in the city to ensure public health and safety, protect customers and prevent problems. The Licensing and Enforcement Division helps business owners with the licensing process. They also offer tools and resources for entrepreneurs who are getting ready to start a new business in Kingston. 

Depending on the type of business you want to operate; the licensing process will involve approvals from outside agencies such as those mentioned in the licensing process below.  

Step 1: Speak to an agent 

Before you apply online it's important to contact us first. Speaking directly to one of our agents is a crucial step in the process of filing your business licence application. Our agents are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Contact us by: 

Step 2: Register  

Contact the following agencies to register for: 

    • Vendor permit 
        • Call the Ministry of Revenue at 1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297
        • Register online on the Ontario website
        • Register at a Service Ontario Centre 
    • Harmonized Sales Tax 
        • Registration Department Revenue Canada Excise 
          31 Hyperion Court 
          Postal Box 2600 
          Kingston, Ontario, K7L 5P3 
    • Business Name and Business Registration 

Step 3: Consider zoning bylaws 

Where will your business operate? It is crucial to see if the place where you want to run your business follows our zoning rules. These rules apply to all businesses, including home-based ones. For more information on zoning contact the planning department at: 613-546-4291, ext. 3180 or in person at 1211 John Counter Blvd. 

Step 4: Consider building permits 

If you plan to make changes to your property or use it differently, you might need a building permit, even if you are not doing any construction work 

Note: Building permits are subject to a three-week review timeframe under the Ontario Building Code. 

Step 5: Gather your documentation  

Staff will send your application to all necessary agencies. They may ask for more details. The licensing agents will provide these agencies with supporting documents and a site plan if needed to support your business licence approval. 

Any of the following may be required depending on the type of business: 

    • Insurance certificate
    • Business plan 
    • Site plan 
    • Government-issued identification 
    • Police Background Check
    • Fire department inspection and or approval 
    • Sign permit 
    • Health department inspection and or approval 
    • Zoning and or planning department approval 
    • Building department inspection and or approval 
    • Business name registration
    • Tobacco retail or dealer's permit 
    • Lease agreement
    • Certificates of Incorporation (if applicant is a corporation or partnership)

Step 6: Get your business licence  

Apply online. Your application will be forwarded to staff for a final review. Make sure you have included all supporting documentation with your application. The review process usually takes about 20 business days. 

Your business licence is good until December 31 of each year. You need to renew it by December 31 for the following year. If you are not sure if you need a business licence, please contact the Licensing Office at 613-546-4291 ext. 3150. 

Note: You cannot transfer your business licence to new owners. If you sell your business, the new owners will need to apply and get approval before they can open. 

Do not operate within the city without a business licence  

If our staff learns of a business operating without a licence, our licensing and enforcement team is required to investigate and enforce the City's bylaws. We don't have discretion or flexibility in this matter. All enforcement actions are kept confidential to protect the business owner's privacy. 

The City of Kingston acknowledges that we are on the traditional homeland of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee and the Huron-Wendat, and thanks these nations for their care and stewardship over this shared land.

Today, the City is committed to working with Indigenous peoples and all residents to pursue a united path of reconciliation.

Learn more about the City's reconciliation initiatives.

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