Permits, Business Licences and Applications

Below you will find more information on various licences, permits and applications issued by the City of Ottawa.

The City of Ottawa’s Access to Building Permit Records, (also previously known as View and Release), allows general access to building permit records, while ensuring that the access to the information requests respect the intent of the Copyright Act, without the necessity of a formal request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario requires an Agency Letter of Approval (ALA) from "Building, Fire and Health" authorities where applicants wish to sell alcoholic beverages in a licensed premise for indoor and/ or an outdoor use.

An All Night Dance Event licence is required for an event that offers live or pre-recorded music between the hours of 3am and 9am. The principal activities of these events include listening and dancing to music.  These events are commonly referred to as “raves”.

An Amusement Place licence is required for a business that provides entertainment or amusement and includes:  arcade machines, billiard or pool tables, a bowling alley, golf driving range, roller skating or a hall where entertainment is provided.

An Auctioneer Licence is required for a person selling goods, wares, merchandise or effects and livestock by public auction. 

Under the Ontario Building Code Act, a building permit is required for the construction of a new building, an addition, or alteration of any building or structure with a building area of over 10 square metres (approximately 108 square feet).

You need to obtain a building permit to relocate or demolish an existing building or structure.  Your demolition application will be reviewed to ensure compliance with safety requirements that may need to be adhered to during or after the demolition of the structure, as well as with applicable law (e.g., Demolition Control By-law and the Ontario Heritage Act) Clearance certificates from utilities confirming services have been severed and capped must be obtained as well.  

Is the existing water and sewer services adequate for their proposed business or building use? If no, or if you are uncertain, contact City of Ottawa, Right-of-Way Information and Approvals Unit for verification.

The purpose of the Business Identity Card Permit is to provide special short-term parking privileges for drivers of commercial or delivery and pick-up vehicles, not including passenger services, in the downtown and business districts of the City. The card is essentially a permit that allows drivers to temporarily park on-street in “Loading” or signed “No Parking” zones.

The Cafe Seating program allows businesses to place limited outdoor seating on the road allowance. A Café Seating Permit allows businesses to have a maximum of two tables with two chairs each against the wall of their building. A business may hold up to two Café Seating Permits. At no time can alcohol be served at the cafe seating. 

The purpose of the Day Care Parking Permit is to provide a safe and convenient manner for the drop-off and pick-up of day care users (i.e. children), without a significant disruption to the availability of on-street parking or the operation of the street.

The Directional Farm Sign Program assists the public to locate farm-based businesses in rural areas. Eligible businesses include registered farms, farmers’ markets and agriculture fairgrounds. 

A Driving School Operator licence is required for a business that teaches individuals to operate motor vehicles. A Driving School Instructor licence is required for each person who teaches a person to operate a motor vehicle. A Driving School Vehicle licence is required for each vehicle utilized by a driving school.

An Exhibition Licecse is required for any event operating under a theme or general subject with five or more vendors.  These are usually short-term events with sale or promotion themes, for example,  a trade, sports or home show.

An Exotic Animal Entertainment Licence is required for any exhibit, public show, circus, carnival or any act of entertainment using live exotic animals. This includes the use of a live exotic animal in any film or television production. An Exotic Animal Rescue Establishment Licence is required for any establishment which exhibits, displays or houses any live exotic animal for purposes of rescue and education.

A Flea Market Licence is required for any indoor or outdoor flea market that is open to the general public and has more than 5 vendors.

Every person who intends to commence to operate a food premise shall give notice of the person’s intention to the health unit in which the food premise will be located.  A food premises is defined as a premises where food or milk is manufactured, processed, prepared, stored, handled, displayed, distributed, transported, sold or offered for sale, but does not include a private residence.

A food premises licence is required for any business that prepares food including: bakeshops, butcher shops, caterers and restaurants.  This applies to free standing structures only – refreshment carts, trucks and stands are covered by other licence categories.

Every person who intends to commence to operate a food premise shall give notice of the person’s intention to the health unit in which the food premise will be located. 

This application is for temporary food service at special events.

A heritage grant of up to $5,000 is available on a matching basis to assist owners of heritage buildings designated under Part IV or Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act with restoration work. An owner can apply for grant funding once every two years. The grant program is based on availability of funding which is approved by City Council as part of the annual budget.

Homebuilder Way-finding Signs are permitted alongside roadways to direct traffic to the boundary of new housing developments and to the builder sales centres to assist with general way-finding. 

An Itinerant seller licence is required for a business that sells goods:  from their person, door to door, on private property from a vehicle or at a special event from a stand.  It does not include food or refreshments or goods sold by wholesale.

A Kennel licence is required for any premises where more than a total of 5 dogs and cats, with a maximum of 3 dogs, over the age of 20 weeks are boarded, raised or trained for any period of time.

Adult Entertainment Parlour Owner and Adult Entertainment Operator licences are required for the owner of and operators or managers of any premises or part of a premises which provides live entertainment or services appealing to erotic or sexual appetites. These are commonly known as “strip clubs”.

An Adult Entertainment Store licence is required for any business that sells adult videos or magazines appealing to erotic or sexual appetites.

A Body-rub Parlour licence is required for any premises where a body-rub is performed, offered or solicited. A licence is not required when the body-rubs performed are for the purposes of medical or therapeutic treatment and are performed by persons qualified, licensed or registered to do so under the laws of the Province of Ontario.

A Limousine Service Licence is required for a business providing pre-arranged passenger ground transportation services utilizing limousines.

A Mobile Refreshment Cart Licence is required for any hand-powered or pedal-powered vehicle from which refreshments may be cooked, carried or offered for sale to the general public.

To give permission to burn wood in the open air in areas where permitted.

A permit is required in order to operate an over-dimensional vehicle on City Streets.

The Permanent Signs on Private Property By-Law (No. 2005-439) regulates the design, construction, installation, relocation, alteration, and repair of permanent signs located on private property in the City of Ottawa.

A Pet Shop licence is required for a business that sells animals for use as pets.

If you plan to create, widen or close your driveway, you need to apply for a Private Approach Permit.

A Private Parking Enforcement Agency licence is required for any business that provides parking enforcement services.

A Public Garage licence is required for any of the following auto related businesses: car dealers, car rentals, car wash, gas station, auto repair shops, and auto body shops.

A Rickshaw Owner licence is required for a business that provides rickshaw or pedicab services. A Rickshaw Operator licence is required for each person who operates a rickshaw or pedicab.

A permit is required before anyone can undertake a road cut, which is defined as: “a surface or subsurface cut in any part of a highway made by any means, including excavation, reconstruction, cutting, overlaying, crack sealing, braking, boring, jacking or tunnelling operations”.

A Rooming House licence is required where a principal dwelling within the whole of a residential use building contains at least four (4) rooming units available to be occupied for compensation.

A Salvage Yard Licence is required for any establishment where salvaged articles are stored. This includes derelict, discarded, abandoned or inoperable motor vehicles and parts. It also includes: junk yards, scrap yards and automobile wrecking yards.

A Second Hand Goods Shop licence is required for businesses offering used goods for sale.

A Snow Plow Contractor Licence is required for any business that plows or removes snow from a private property with a snow plow. 

The purpose of the Special Event Parking Permit is to provide short-term on-street parking privileges under special circumstances typically for only infrequent not-for-profit or charitable events at locations such as schools, places of worship, and other institutions.  In general, permits are issued to provide patrons some relief from time-restriction regulations when a special parking longer-duration demand is anticipated that cannot be accommodated off-street.

The purpose of the Special Event Parking Permit Funeral is to provide short-term on-street parking privileges for funerals.  In general, permits are issued to provide patrons some relief from time-restriction regulations when a special parking longer-duration demand is anticipated that cannot be accommodated off-street.

The purpose of the Temporary Consideration Parking Permit is to provide short-term on-street parking privileges under special circumstances.  In general, permits are issued in circumstances when off-street parking spaces are displaced temporarily such as during off-street construction when a property’s parking spaces may be occupied with construction activities or garbage dumpsters.  Permits may be issued for both residential and non-residential uses.

Temporary Construction-related Encroachment Permits are issued to clients undertaking a private property project requiring the use of City road allowance in order to store materials and/or stage part of their work. 

The Outdoor Patio program allows businesses, such as bars, restaurants and cafés, to put outdoor seating on the road allowance. An initial review and approval is required, after which an annual permit may be issued.

A Temporary Sign Lessor permit is required for any business leasing temporary signs.

A Tobacco Vendor licence is required for any business selling tobacco products.

Tour Bus Parking Permits are used by tour bus operators to park at any of the yellow tour bus parking meters.  Each permit is valid for a maximum period of 24 consecutive hours and allows a tour bus to park at any designated tour bus meter without having to pay the hourly rate.  The permit indicates both the time and date of expiry.

The purpose of the Volunteer Parking Permit is to provide special short-term parking privileges for volunteers who are volunteer drivers for a non-profit or charity organization.  The card is essentially a permit that allows drivers to temporarily park on-street in “Loading” or signed “No Parking” zones.  It is not intended to provide any special privilege with respect to metered parking or other parking-restricted areas.