Types of Licenses

Ben Franklin said, "The only two things that are sure are death and taxes". This may be universally true. But, in Canada, it is fair to say that the statement can be revised somewhat, to say something like "Nothing can be said to be certain except death, high taxes, and licenses". In fact, Canada as a country is license crazy. You have to be licensed to engage in almost every lasting activity as an adult, and on this site we are going to talk about licenses in Canada, where and when they are important, and how to obtain them. Just for interest's sake, let's take a quick look at exactly what licenses are good for.

Generating revenue

The cynically minded would probably say that the chief purpose of licenses is the generation of revenue for the government. While there are other valid reasons for requiring a license for some activities, most of the time, the revenue generated by the government through licensing fees is staggeringly huge. We would argue however that a license for example, for operating a motor vehicle is totally necessary.

Take a look, for example, at the marriage license: Here is a document that confers no benefits in the way of training to the recipient, and really, beyond legalities on the marriage's dissolution, serves no purpose. However, every time a couple in Canada makes a legal commitment to one another, they have to pay up to $100 to the Federal Government. And that is all money that goes into General Revenue (there's no special Ministry for Marriage, although it's not a bad idea).

Most licenses have to be renewed on a regular basis, and every time there is a fee involved. No doubt about it, licensing everyday Canadian activities is a great way to get money into government coffers.


While we enjoy the cynical and true approach, in many cases licenses in Canada do serve a valid purpose other than just putting money into government ministries. A lot of licenses are issued only after an applicant has engaged in some form of study, introducing him or her to the ethics, safety, and rules of the activity in which they wish to engage. Driver's licenses, pilot's licenses, and boating licenses are all examples of activities in which proper licensing results in personal protection.

Occupational licensing is another form as a means of protection; although, in this case, it is not so much personal safety that is on the line as it is the welfare of the average citizen. Though the areas do cross over often, as is the case with many types of Trades licenses, we are referring to specific occupations wherein a client or customer may see long-term consequences when they proceed to interact with an unlicensed professional. Examples of occupational licenses designed to protect private citizens from financial or actual damage include trade licensing, real estate licensing, and medical licensing..

Municipal governments will also state that business licenses serve to protect the general welfare as well; zoning by-laws are in place for a purpose and businesses should not interfere with the ability of the citizen to enjoy their property.

Preservation of Natural Assets

Some types of licenses exist to make sure that the natural assets we enjoy as Canadians are around for future generations, decades and even centuries down the line. Licenses required for outdoor recreation, from hunting and fishing to snowmobiling, are good examples of this. Harvesting species, in particular, requires careful documentation and individual responsibility, with the dollars spent to license individuals in these activities put directly back into preserving species and habitats.

So, while there definitely are some redundant licensing requirements, the stated reasons for government to charge individuals to engage in certain activities are more often than not sound as well as reasonable. Nevertheless, it can be quite difficult to figure out just what you need a license for, and then how to go about getting it. On this site, the information for various licenses is just a click away!

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Sunday, July 21, 2024