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Business licensing

Temporary outdoor patio encroachments

The Outdoor Patio program allows businesses, such as bars and restaurants, to put outdoor seating on the road allowance. An initial review and approval in accordance with the provisions of the Encroachment By-law is required, after which an annual permit may be issued.

Temporary Outdoor Patio Encroachment applications [ PDF - 668 Ko ] may be submitted at any Client Service Centre or the Right-of-Way Permit Counter, 100 Constellation Crescent, 6 Floor East, 613-580-2424 ext. 16000.

The proposal must include the following:

  • A description of the proposed encroachment and all of the materials to be used in the construction and operation of the encroachment, including all appurtenances such as canopies, umbrellas, tables, chairs, wrought-iron railings and half walls;
  • A plan showing the location and dimensions of the encroachment, the premises to which the encroachment will be appurtenant and the location of all relevant lot lines and existing surface features; and,
  • A first time review fee as stipulated in Schedule B of the Encroachment By-law.

The annual permit for a patio starts on the first day the encroachment is used in the current year and expires on April 14 of the following year, with a fee that is calculated for the number of days from the permit start date to September 30. 

Café Seating

The Cafe Seating program allows businesses to place limited outdoor seating on the road allowance. Cafe Seating permits 2 tables and 4 chairs, with no railing.

Apply for a Cafe Seating Permit at the Right-of-Way Permit Office, 100 Constellation Crescent, 6 Floor East, 613-580-2424 ext. 16000.

The application must include the following:

A Cafe Seating Permit starts on April 15 in the year the permit is obtained and expires on April 14 of the following year.

Permit Requirements

Issuance of a Cafe Seating Permit is conditional upon the following requirements:

  • Allowing at all times the required minimum unencumbered sidewalk width of 1.8 metres
  • Not obstructing or interfering with public travel, any public service, or maintenance operations
  • Tables and chairs must at all times be against the wall of the building
  • Tables and chairs must be removed by 11 p.m. each night
  • Maximum 2 permits per location

Register a new business

To register a new business online: 

To register a new business in person:

  • Go to the Service Ontario location at City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. West in Ottawa. For other locations offering Business registration services, check the Service Location Finder.

How do I close my business?

Other questions?

Call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

BizPaL (Business Permits and Licences)

BizPaL is an innovative online service that provides entrepreneurs with simplified access to information about business permits, licences and other requirements needed to start, operate and grow their business from the federal, provincial/territorial and participating municipal governments.

Benefits of BizPaL

Finding out which government requirements apply to a certain business type can be time consuming and frustrating. BizPaL was created to help identify what you may require, quickly and easily. The information you need is available from a single source; entrepreneurs spend less time dealing with red tape - saving effort and money in the process - and more time building their business. The service is the result of strong collaboration between the federal, provincial/territorial and participating municipal governments and is designed with the following benefits in mind:

BizPaL logo

  • It's free to use
  • It saves time
  • It’s available 24/7

Launch the BizPaL service

Read these helpful hints before using BizPaL

  • Business type not found: Please note that some types of businesses are not yet included in BizPaL. Contact us if you cannot find a suitable category.
     
  • Mandatory questions: ALL questions must be answered before continuing to the next step.
     
  • Asterisk: An asterisk beside a permit or licence name indicates that you must contact the issuing organization and provide more information to determine if you need this permit or licence.
     
  • Results page: After you answer all questions and obtain your results page, you can begin to contact the issuing organizations to proceed with acquiring your permits and licences.

Key troubleshooting tips:

  • Scrolling: Some browsers may experience navigational issues. To ensure you review all required information, please scroll to the top of each page.
     
  • Printing: Print your results using the “Printer Friendly” button on the last page, rather than using the “Printable Version” link.
     
  • Saving: Some browsers require that you select ‘Save as type: Web archive’’ to save your results to your computer.
     
  • Hyperlinks: Some hyperlinks do not display due to technical limitations. Please copy and paste each link into a new browser window.

Please contact us if you experience other issues with BizPaL.

Agency letter of approval

Building Code

When requesting Ontario Building Code approval from Building Services Branch, applicants must provide a floor plan (seating plan) indicating tables and chairs, washrooms, exits, etc., and a site plan. A Building Official will verify the zoning designation of the premises and conduct a site visit to confirm that the requirements for the occupancy load under the Ontario Building Code are met.

Building Services Branch Fee Schedule

For information on the zoning designation of the location, please contact the Development Information Officer for your area by
calling 3-1-1.

Fire Prevention

Prior to Fire Prevention conducting the inspection, the premises must be ready to open with chairs, tables, etc. If a patio requires an inspection, it must have tables, chairs, etc. set up as well. If the premise required approval under the Ontario Building Code, there must be compliance with the Building Code prior to the Fire Inspection. A minimum of 10 business days is required to process an application for a Fire Inspection. If further information is required, please call 613-580-2424, ext. 15371.

Health

When requesting Health Protection and Promotion Act approval from Ottawa Public Health, applicants should contact their Public Health Inspector either directly or by calling 580-6744, ext. 23806 to arrange for an inspection. They should also have their application form available for the inspector during the visit.

Health Department

Licensing

Your business may require a Business Licence.

Businesses that require a municipal licence

If you own or operate a business in the City of Ottawa, you may require a municipal business license. Below is a list of businesses that are licensed by the City of Ottawa and the locations at which applications for such licenses can be made.

Available at a City of Ottawa Client Service Centre

  • Amusement Place
  • Auctioneer
  • Exhibition
  • Flea Market
  • Food Premise (restaurants, bakeries, butchers & caterers)
  • Pet Shop
  • Public Garage (car dealers, car rentals, car wash, gas station, auto repair shop, auto body shop)
  • Rickshaw
  • Salvage Yard
  • Second Hand Goods Shop
  • Snow Plow Contractor
  • Temporary Sign Lessor
  • Tobacco Vendor

Other permits and licenses available at a Client Service Centre

  • Noise By-law Exemption Permit
  • Open Air Fire Permit
  • Pet Registration (Dog and Cat License)

Available at the Business Licensing Centre, 735 Industrial Ave.

  • Adult Entertainment Parlour
  • Adult Entertainment Store
  • All Night Dance Event (Rave)
  • Body Rub Parlour
  • Driving School
  • Exotic Animal Entertainment
  • Exotic Animal Rescue Establishment
  • Fireworks Pyrotechnic Event
  • Itinerant Seller
  • Kennel
  • Limousine
  • Lottery
  • Private Parking Enforcement Agency
  • Refreshment Cart and Vehicle
  • Rooming House
  • Taxi                                                                                                                                        

Business Hours

Business Licensing Centre
735 Industrial Avenue Counter, 2nd floor
Monday to Friday
8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Client Services Centres

Apply for a business licence

Your licence application may require an inspection and approval by staff of zoning, buildings, police, health, fire and property standards. The Business Licensing Centre will coordinate this process and advise you of your status.

What permits or licences do I need?

You may require a municipal business license if you are planning to operate a business in Ottawa. Use BizPal to find information on business permits and licenses from all levels of government.

Business licence application form

How long must I wait before my licence is issued?

The review process varies based on the approvals that are required. In most cases, licences can be issued within six weeks of receiving the application; some licences are even issued within minutes. However, you may experience a delay if you did not submit enough information or if you failed to meet some of the licensing requirements.

Will I have to renew my licence each year?

Most licences have an annual expiry date. You will be notified by mail of your approaching expiry date. Upon notification, you should promptly renew your licence to avoid a late fee.

For more information contact:

  • Call: 3-1-1 

Are you planning to open a restaurant, bakery, café, butcher shop or another type of food establishment? The City of Ottawa has resources to assist business owners who are starting to plan and operate a new food establishment, including the Business Ambassador Service and the online Food Premises Application tool available on My ServiceOttawa.