Business Licences

A Business Licence is required by every business (including non-profit Societies, home based businesses, and out of town businesses) operating in the City of Duncan.  A person who carries on business from more than one location shall obtain a licence for each business location.

Why do you need a business licence?

Business licenses are required so the City can monitor and ensure businesses are in compliance with zoning bylaws, building and fire regulations, and health requirements.  This helps ensure that businesses are safe for the public and are operating in the allowable areas.

For home-based businesses, there are regulations as to what type of business can operate in a residential zone.  The City imposes rules to protect the residential nature of neighborhoods.  For example, home based businesses are not allowed to create noise and other nuisances such as dust, odour, smoke, etc.  There are limitations on customers attending the residence, as well as regulation of parking and storage impacts.

Mobile Businesses

For mobile businesses, the City of Duncan Business Licence automatically authorizes operations in Lake Cowichan, North Cowichan and Ladysmith (see Intermunicipal Business Licence Bylaw).  For those mobile business owners who conduct business further up island or south island, an Inter-Community Business Licence can be purchased for an additional fee, payment can now be made online.  This licence authorizes mobile business owners to operate in participating Vancouver Island communities.

How to Apply

You can apply for a business licence:


BizPaL is an innovative online service that provides you with simplified access to information about business permits, licences and other requirements needed to establish, operate and grow your business. 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 City of Duncan participates in BizPaL to help business owners quickly and easily identify the requirements that apply to their type of business. Please note, the City of Duncan does not allow the sale of fireworks or medical cannabis.

BizPal Logo

Launch BizPaL

How to Pay

    • In person – 200 Craig Street, Duncan, BC
    • By cheque – 200 Craig Street, Duncan, BC  V9L 1W3
    • Online

Other Approvals

Vancouver Island Health Authority Approval

Any food-related businesses must have an inspection completed and approved by Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Zoning Approval

Depending on the zoning of your proposed business location, your business may or may not be permitted.

Timeline for Approval

Your business licence will be processed within 2 weeks after the City receives payment for the licence fees.  During this period, and depending on the type of business, the application is referred to various departments for review (i.e. Building, Public Health Inspector, Planning, etc.)

Important: Your business and your location

Before you purchase or sign a lease for your business location, check with the Development Services Department (250-746-6126; first to ensure that your:

  1. type of business is permitted in those premises; and
  2. proposed sign meets the requirements of the City’s Sign Bylaw.