Commercial Business

Before committing to a commercial location for your business, there are things you should consider.

The steps below will guide you through the process of opening a commercial businesses in Medicine Hat.

Be sure to apply for City approvals at least two weeks before you want to open for business.

 A guide to getting started
 Conditions for commercial businesses
Land use approval

Each property within Medicine Hat has a land use district (zone) assigned to it, which dictates what the land may be used for. Uses may be allowed, discretionary or disallowed.

See the land use district of a property by visiting:


Development Permit

A Development Permit is required when opening a business. The necessary information is automatically included in your Business License application. Details examined by City Planning staff include parking requirements, whether the business type is permitted or discretionary, whether circulation of the application to stakeholders is warranted, and whether a technical review is necessary.

For more information or to apply, visit:

Development Permits

 Outdoor signs

A sign permit is required for outdoor signs when:

  • Installing new signs on a building, structure or free-standing, or
  • Changing an existing sign to a different type of sign (e.g. an unlighted sign to a back-lit sign), or
  • Changing the size of an existing sign
For more information or to apply, visit:

Sign Permits

Renovations and Safety
Building Permit

If any renovations are required on the site in which the business will open, a Building Permit is needed before the work is done. Building Permit applications are reviewed for compliance with the Alberta Building Code by a Safety Codes Officer to ensure that our built environment is safe.

Any construction, repair, demolition or alterations to a building or structure requires a Building Permit. If the only changes are cosmetic (e.g. painting, flooring, cabinetry), no Building Permit is required.

For more information or to apply, visit: 

Building Permits

Trades work

If any intended renovations include changes to gas, electrical, plumbing, heating or cooling systems in your proposed location, you will require trades permits. To ensure compliance with all regulatory safety policies, these permits are issued only to qualified professionals who are licensed by the City of Medicine Hat.

For more information or to apply, visit:

Trade Permits


Having your plans reviewed, and construction work inspected by a Safety Codes Officer will ensure that safety standards are met. This will help protect you, your customers and staff, and the value of your property.

For more information or to apply, visit:


Using shipping containers

Adding a shipping container (sea can) on a property is considered to be adding a building, therefore both a Development Permit and Building Permit will likely be required.

For more information or to apply, visit:

Seacan Usage

Occupancy Permit
  • Occupancy is the use of a space, as defined by the Alberta Building Code.
  • Occupancy load is the number of people who may safely occupy a space, outlined in the Alberta Building Code and Alberta Fire Code.

An Occupancy Permit is required before you open your business, if:

  • The building is new, or
  • You plan to renovate, or
  • There will be a change in the type of occupancy

Example: a take-out restaurant converting to include seating for diners.

If we notify you that an occupancy permit is required in your commercial business situation, a link to the application form is below:

Occupancy Permit Application

Business License

Once the above steps are complete, you may apply for a Business License. Anyone involved in business activities within the City of Medicine Hat requires a Business License. Once you receive your Business License, it must be prominently displayed in your place of business.

For answers to common questions about business licenses, visit:

Business License

Apply online for a business license

Apply online


Apply in person for a business license

Visit Planning & Development Services in City Hall and we will assist you. Or if you wish, complete the form below and then visit us. 

Business license application


Payment options

Online or phone:
  • Visa or Mastercard
  • Debit
  • Cash
  • Cheque
  • Visa or Mastercard
  • Cheque

To view fees for various types of business licenses, see:

Fees and charges

Businesses based outside Medicine Hat

If your business is located outside Medicine Hat, but will be doing business activities within Medicine Hat, you are required to have a valid Business License.

Yearly or daily options

  • An option for a yearly or daily license is automatically included in the Business License application.
  • Yearly licenses are valid for one calendar year. Renewal notices are mailed 30 days before due.
  • Daily licenses require that the exact dates you will be operating in the city are provided, and you will be charged for each of those days.

Moving your business

If you plan to change your business location, and you already have a Business License, you must notify Planning & Development Services before the move occurs. Depending on the previous use of the space and your intended alterations, you may need a Development Permit and/or a Building Permit. There is no fee to change the address of your Business License.

Apply online for a change of address for your business:

Apply online

Closing your business

If you close or sell your business, notify Planning & Development Services so your license file can be closed. If you sell your business, the new owner must apply for a new Business License and potentially, other approvals will also be required. If your business closes, the Business License fee is non-refundable.

Developing a new commercial space

For requirements about constructing new commercial buildings, visit:

Building a Commercial Space