Opening a Business
If you are a current business owner or plan to open a business, the City has a number of resources to help you navigate applicable regulations and permissions. The City requires that certain businesses be licensed so their operations can be reviewed by all necessary departments to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the public. The City supports local business owners by guiding them through this process, and provides a number of resources for prospective applicants.
The Business Licensing Bylaw regulates the types of businesses that require a licence to operate in Kingston. Depending on the type of business you want to operate, the licensing process will involve approvals from outside agencies such as those listed in the licensing process diagram below.
Getting a business licence
To get a business licence and ensure you receive the information and application that applies to the type of business you are proposing, contact the City's licensing department at:
- 613-546-4291 ext. 3150
- in person at 1211 John Counter Blvd.
Consider zoning bylaws
Most importantly, you will want to start by considering zoning, as the property where your business will be located must be in compliance with the City's zoning bylaws.
Zoning rules apply to ALL businesses, including home businesses. For more information on zoning contact the planning department at:
- 613-546-4291, ext. 3180
- in person at 1211 John Counter Blvd.
Consider building permits
A building permit may be required for alterations to your property or for a change in use, even if you are not planning any construction. For more information contact Building Services at email@example.com or 613-546-4291, ext. 3280.
Business licensing process
Before you start
Contact the following agencies to register for:
- Call the Ministry of Revenue at 1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297)
- Register on-line at ontario.ca/taxservices
- Register at a ServiceOntario Centre
Harmonized Sales Tax
Revenue Canada Excise
31 Hyperion Court
Postal Box 2600
Kingston, Ontario, K7L 5P3
1201 Division Street
Kingston, Ontario K7K 6X4
Read about how the City is supporting business owners.
Why does the City require a business licence?
The City requires business licences to ensure the health, safety and the well-being of the public, consumer protection and nuisance control.
Do I require a business licence in Kingston?
If you propose to operate any of the following business types, a municipal business licence is required to be filed and approved, prior to operating:
- Adult Entertainment Establishment
- Adult Entertainment Attendant
- Adult Entertainment Store
- Alarm Installation
- Alarm Monitoring
- Amusement Arcade
- Automotive Repair
- Billiard Tables
- Bill Poster
- Food Service Premise
- Gasoline Sales
- Hawker and Peddler
- Lodging House
- Meat & Fish Sales
- Pet Stores
- Salons (Personal Service)
- Specific Days Sales and/or Purchases
- Specific Locations
- Street Performers
- Tobacco Sales
Why are business licence applications not available online?
The City requires you to make contact ahead of receiving the application. As an important step in the filing of business licence applications, you need to speak directly to an agent prior to obtaining the application.
Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 613-546-4291 ex 3150.
How long does it take to get a business licence?
Once you have completed the application, compiled all required documents and received written approvals from all inspection agencies required for your business type, the package must be submitted to our office located at 1211 John Counter Blvd. for final review. The municipal licence will usually be prepared for payment and pick-up within 48 business hours of our department receiving all completed documentation.
How far in advance of an event should a Specific Days Application be submitted?
In order to ensure you receive your specific days licence for your event, the completed application and corresponding documents must be submitted to the Licensing Division no fewer than 10 business days prior to the intended sale and/or purchase date.
What permits, inspections, approvals or documents are necessary to start a business?
Any of the following may be required depending on the type of business:
- Business plan
- Site plan
- Government-issued identification
- Fire department inspection and/or approval
- Sign Permit
- Health department inspection and/or approval
- Zoning/planning department approval
- Building department inspection and/or approval
- Master business licence
- Tobacco retail or dealers permit
Will the City contact all of the agencies that are required as part of the licensing process?
No. You will receive an inspection sheet as part of your business licence application package. It is your responsibility to reach out to each required department noted in the application. You are also responsible for providing supporting documentation and a site plan to these departments to provide specific required information to support the approval of your business licence.
How long is a licence valid?
A municipal business licence is valid for one calendar year. Every licensee must renew their licence by Dec. 31 of each year. If you are not sure you require a business licence, please contact the Licensing Office at 613-546-4291 ext. 3150.
Can I transfer my licence if I move locations?
No. Changing your business' location requires you to reapply for a business licence.
If I sell my business does my licence transfer to the new owner?
No. Your business licence will not transfer to new owners in the event that you sell your business. Change of ownership requires that the new owners undertake the application and approval process prior to opening.
Does my home business need a licence?
This depends. If you wish to operate a business which is listed under the "Do I require a business licence?" question above, you must contact the zoning/planning department to verify zoning compliance.
Can I apply in person?
Yes, an agent is on duty 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily Monday to Friday at 1211 John Counter Blvd. for your convenience and to assist you with your business application.
What happens if I operate within the City without a business licence?
If staff becomes aware of a business that is operating without a licence, the City's enforcement team is obligated to investigate the matter and enforce the City's bylaws. The City's bylaws do not give staff discretion or flexibility in this regard. All enforcement actions are kept confidential for the business owner's privacy.