Starting a business

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Related info

Starting a commercial business

Starting a home-based business

Placing signs

Building a commercial space

Operating a food truck

Child care businesses


This page provides basic information on starting a business and how the operation of a business in the City of Medicine Hat is regulated.

Business means an activity or enterprise conducted for gain, benefit, advantage or livelihood, including every trade, industry, occupation, employment or calling, and the providing of goods and services.


All businesses
operating in Medicine Hat are required to have a valid City of Medicine Hat business license, which includes land approval for the business location (Bylaw 2339). This also applies to businesses based outside the City limits. A business license is valid for one year, and must be renewed each year by the anniversary date of the original application.

The City of Medicine Hat has a responsibility to ensure that businesses operating within Medicine Hat are in compliance with regulations and safety requirements and that all businesses are held to a fair operating standard. It is also important to ensure that businesses are located appropriately, to minimize negative impacts on other property owners. A valid business license establishes this.

The required approvals vary for each business license type, as defined by City bylaws. For more information on specific business types, visit Categories of businesses.
Or, contact us and we will let you know about your required approvals.

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Ph. 403.529.8374

Starting a business?  Please provide this info...


Base of operation - Which will apply to you?

•  Commercial based location: Your business will be run from a commercial or industrial location in Medicine Hat.
•  Home based location: Your business will be run from your home in Medicine Hat.
•  Based outside the city: Your business is based outside Medicine Hat, but you will be conducting business within the city. Visit Businesses outside City for more information.
•  Mobile: Your business will operate on a mobile basis, such as a food truck. Mobile businesses are still required to have a base location, whether it be home-based or commercial-based.



Businesses are location specific; each business location is required to obtain land use approval prior to being approved to open and operate (with the exception of business that are based out of town). The permits your business will require will depend on the space you are proposing to operate the business as well as the type of business activity that will take place. You may require a combination of permits to obtain the appropriate approvals for your licence.

The City reviews a number of variables, to determine which application type you require for land use approval:

  Whether the use is listed as permitted or discretionary within the land use district
  If the parking requirements are changing
  If the business is proposing alterations or renovations to the space
  If the activity change requires a safety codes review.

When you apply for your business license, a Planning or Development Officer will take into consideration the land use district, proposed business activities and historical approvals for the address you provide. See Get started, below.

You should understand what conditions and/or approvals are required for your business before you make a long-term commitment to a space.

Remember, we are here to help! If you have questions, contact:

Planning & Development Services
Second floor, City Hall
580 1st Street SE
Ph. 403.529.8374

To see what types of businesses are allowed in various areas of the City, visit Categories of businesses.

To see what types of development are allowed in all areas of the City, visit Zoning and land use.

Regarding the ownership of your business, is it:

  Sole proprietorship

To learn more about various ownership structures, visit Business Link.

Conveying the details of how you want to run your business is an important step in order to determine the licence and permit requirements your business will need in order to legally operate within the City. Part of your business license fee is determined by the type of business.


  As a home based business, how many client visits to the home per week do you anticipate? 
  As a restaurant, do you intend to prohibit minors at any time?
  Are you taking over an existing business space and plan to renovate and/or change the type of business?
  Do you intend to do door-to-door sales?

Consider when you want to launch your business operation. Do not apply for City approvals the day before you want to open for business.

The timeline to obtain approvals can vary significantly depending on the permits and approvals that are required for your business type and location. It may take only a few days, or it may take several weeks.


Starting a business in the city is more than just obtaining a business license. For the information you'll need, click on the type of business which applies to your situation:

•  Commercial or industrial business
•  Home-based business
•  Business based outside of Medicine Hat
•  Special event or festival
•  Other business or occupation approvals
  Mobile cooking operation such as a food truck or hot dog cart.
  List of Conditions for Contractors, Tradespersons & Handypersons (PDF)

If none of the above apply to your situation, or if you have questions, call Planning & Development Services at 403.529.8374.

Resources for business owners

In addition to understanding the regulatory requirements, taking time to plan what your business will do, how it will be owned and how you plan to maintain and grow your business will save you time in the future and make your business more successful.

Here are some resources that may be useful for your business:

  Invest Medicine Hat
  Business Support - City of Medicine Hat
  Business Link
  Canada Business Network
  Community Futures Entre-Corp
  BDC Advisory Services for Business

Registering a business name

The City of Medicine Hat does not require you to register the name of your business. However, it may be required for you to get a bank account in your company name. Corporations and registered partnerships will automatically register the trade names when they register the corporation or partnership with the province.

A business name, or trade name, is used to represent your business to the public. Registering a trade name means that you let the province know you are using that name. Trade names can be registered at any Alberta registry office. There is a fee for this service.

Federal and provincial taxes

Whether your business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a corporation, you need to pay taxes on your profits. A bookkeeper or accountant will be the best source of information on the tax process. The City of Medicine Hat does not collect, nor provide advice regarding federal or provincial taxes.

Find out more information on provincial taxes.

For federal tax information, visit the Canada Revenue Agency.

GST for businesses

The Canada Revenue Agency has rules to determine if you are required to collect the Goods and Services Tax (GST). If you are required to collect GST from customers, you need to register an account with the Canada Revenue Agency to receive your GST number. The City of Medicine Hat does not collect, nor provide advice regarding GST for businesses.

The Canada Revenue Agency can be contacted by:
Phone: 1-800-959-5525
or visit: Canada Revenue Agency

Property tax

Whether the property is residential or non-residential, property tax of land parcels within the City of Medicine Hat is paid by the registered landowners. The amount of tax is based on the assessed property value. To learn more, visit Assessment.

Non-resident businesses do not pay Medicine Hat property tax, as they are not located within the city. This is the main reason for the non-resident surcharge being added to these business licences.

Downtown businesses in the City Centre Development Area (Downtown) are subject to a BRZ tax. These monies, along with a grant from the City, assist with downtown economic development and special projects.