Provincial Business Licences and Registrations
The Government of Alberta licenses and/or registers businesses under the Fair Trading Act, Charitable Fund-raising Act, Cemeteries Act, and the Cooperatives Act.
This tipsheet is intended to provide general information and is not a substitute for legal advice.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may require licensing with Service Alberta - Consumer Services Branch or a licensing authority.
This tipsheet explains the differences between licensing and registration and provides information you will need to know about licensing or registering your business.
BUSINESSES REQUIRING A LICENCE
Service Alberta - Consumer Services Branch licenses or registers the following types of businesses (Municipal Business Licensing or approval may also be required):
- Cemetery pre-need contract sales and salespersons
- Charitable organizations
- Collection and debt repayment agencies
- Collectors and debt repayment agents
- Direct (door-to-door) sellers
- Energy marketing companies and energy marketers
- Employment agencies
- Fund-raising businesses
- Monument sales and monument salespeople
- Prepaid contractors
- Retail home sales (mobile homes, modular homes, packaged homes)
- Travel clubs
It is an offence to operate a business without the required licence. Other types of businesses may be licensed through other government departments, municipalities or agencies. Some businesses do not need any type of licence.
Although a business may hold a licence or a registration, it is not an endorsement of the company, nor does it guarantee the quality of goods or services offered.
APPLYING FOR A LICENCE OR REGISTRATION
If you are not sure if your particular business requires a provincial business licence or registration, or to get a copy of the licensing or registration forms, visit our website, call Service Alberta toll-free at 1-877-427-4088 or contact an licensing officer:
301, 7015 MacLeod Trail South
Calgary, Alberta, T2H 2K6
403-297-5743 toll free by dialling 310-0000
3rd Floor, 10155-102 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, T5J 4L4
780-422-1335 toll free by dialling 310-0000
Be sure to provide all the information required on the application form and attach all the required documents. If you do not provide what is needed, your licence may be delayed or refused.
Some businesses are required to provide a security as part of the licensing requirements as an additional protection for consumers.
A consumer may be able to claim on the business’s security if it has been negligent in performing its services. For more information on the need for and amount of security required, contact Alberta Government Services.
Direct sales licence
The Fair Trading Act and applicable regulations require specific information to be included in a direct sales contract worth more than $25. A direct sale is one that is negotiated or concluded away from the seller’s normal place of business (i.e. in a customer’s home).
Visit the Service Alberta website or call toll-free in Alberta at 1-877-427-4088 for more information on direct door-to-door sales.
Additional contract requirements are also required for prepaid contracting and energy marketing businesses. When you apply for a business licence, you will be provided with the information you need for your type of business.
Operating without the correct licence could affect your direct sales contract. Consumers have a legal right to cancel the contract within one year from the date they signed the contract if:
- The business is not properly licensed;
- The contract doesn’t contain the required information;
- The goods are not delivered or if the services have not commenced within 30 days of the contract date or an amended contract date.
Your responsibilities as a licensee
Once you are licensed, you must notify Service Alberta of any changes to your business that might affect your licence or registration; such as:
- A change in ownership. Provincial licences are not transferable. You must notify Service Alberta within 15 days of a change of ownership.
- A change of business location or mailing address (within 15 days of the change).
- Any change in the services offered by the business (e.g. a prepaid contractor licensed to build decks and fences expands to constructing garages or a vacuum salesperson decides to sell cookware). Some licences are specific to products or services. Please note that until your licence is amended to reflect the change in services, you are not licensed to carry out those additional services. To do so is an offence under the Fair Trading Act.
Business Licence Search
You can check to see if a business is licensed by Service Alberta by using the Business Licence search feature on our website.
The Business Licence Search will provide the following information free:
- Whether a business is licensed by Service Alberta
- The legal business and company name
- The address of the business
- The provincial licence type
- Whether the business has posted a security or is required to post one
Alberta Government Services is responsible for the Business Corporations Act, Partnership Act, Companies Act, Societies Act, Religious Societies Land Act, Cooperatives Act and the Cemetery Companies Act. Companies, corporations or partnerships will register their business to confirm the existence and ownership of the business and to determine the business’s liabilities and responsibilities. Registration of a trade name or sole proprietorship officially records the owner and the name of the business. For more information on business registrations, call toll-free at 1-877-427-4088 or visit our website.
You may want to get advice from a lawyer or accountant to help you determine the type of business registration, if any, that is most appropriate for you.
REGISTRATION OF A BUSINESS NAME
To register a corporation, partnership or trade name, you must file information with a registry agent or law firm that is trained and authorized to complete one or more types of business registration. Alberta Government Services registers societies and non-profit companies directly. To find an authorized service provider for trade name, partnership or corporation registration:
- Look under Licence and Registry Services in the telephone book
- Contact your local registry agent
- Call Corporate Registry at 780-427-2311, toll free by dialing 310-0000
Three main business types
The three main types of business organizations registered with Corporate Registry Services are trade names or sole proprietorships, partnerships and limited companies or corporations.
Trade name or sole proprietorship
This is considered the simplest type of business. It can only have one owner.
Joint partners sign a formal agreement that indicates who is responsible for the obligations and liabilities of the business. There are three kinds of partnership: ordinary partnership, limited partnership and limited liability partnership.
Limited company or corporation
The words limited, incorporated or corporation (or their abbreviations Ltd., Inc. or Corp.) indicate the business is incorporated. This means a distinct legal entity or corporate person has been established that is separate from the business owners. A corporation is normally formed to protect the shareholders from certain liabilities and obligations or to provide some tax advantages.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For More Information on Licensing Requirements in the Funeral, Insurance, Automotive, or Real Estate Industry contact:
Alberta Funeral Services Regulatory Board (licenses funeral businesses and directors, embalmers, crematories, and persons selling prearranged funeral plans).
Toll free in Alberta: 1-800-563-4652
Alberta Insurance Council (licenses insurance agents, insurance brokers, and independent adjusters.)
Alberta Motor Vehicle Industry Council
AMVIC licenses automotive businesses including the following:
- vehicle sales (retail and wholesale)
- body shops
- specialty repair shops (e.g. transmission repairs)
- mobile automobile repair
- prepaid auto service contracts
- consignments sales
Toll free in Alberta: Investigations: 1-877-313-3833
Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) licenses real estate agents, real estate salespeople, mortgage brokers, property managers and business brokers.
Toll free in Alberta: 1-888-425-2754
If you are looking for information about starting or expanding your business, or about government programs or services, contact:
A current version of this tipsheet and other tipsheets are available at the Service Alberta website
Most public libraries have Internet access available if you don't have access at home. The Business Link Business Service Centre library also provides free Internet access.
If you need more copies of this tipsheet, you have permission to photocopy. Please call our office to make sure you have the most up-to-date copy.
Prepared by: Alberta Government Services, Consumer Services Branch
- Business Start-up (Alberta) Info-Guide
- Guest Advisor Program Service
- BizPaL - Business Permits & Licences
Toll-free (information): 310-0000 (Alberta only)
Web site: http://www.servicealberta.gov.ab.ca/Corporate_Registries.cfm
North Field Services - Licensing
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4L4
Toll-free (information): 1-877-427-4088
South Field Services - Licensing
301, 7015 Macleod Trail
Calgary, Alberta T2H 2K6
Toll-free (information): 1-877-427-4088