Thinking about starting a small business somewhere in Canada? It doesn't matter if you are going to operate a service providing local residents with home health care, small businesses with legal documents, or citizens with ice cream, you are going to have to obtain a business license in order to operate.
A business license is directly administered by one's municipality, so they can be different from one location to the next. A Canadian painting business (like this one, for example), may have different procedures for getting a license than an American one (example). One thing which does tend from one town to the next, however, is the cost of a business license. They are by no means static, with some municipalities charging incredible costs compared to others. It's one of the reasons businesses often leave some cities for others.
On the whole, applying for your business license is not very hard at all. You simply go into the city buildings, fill out forms stating that you will be running a clinic or other business, and pay your fees. If there are any problems, the staff will usually be able to help you out.
One thing you should realize right up front is that the fees for all businesses are the same in most towns. It doesn't matter if you gross $200,000 or $20,000, both companies will be charged the same. Just one of the weird things about municipal regulations.
This is the time when you will most likely find out if your business is clear to run in the area you wish to run it from. Believe it or not, a business focusing on the retail cannot just set up shop wherever is cheapest. There are certain bylaws which apply in almost all situations. The license application process is the last stop in making sure you comply with all of these regulations, so hopefully you have made sure everything is placed just right beforehand.
If everything - including the cheque - goes through just fine, you will receive your business license within a couple of days after the interaction. Most of the time the city will ask you to display the license in a prominent setting where it is visible to others.