Start a Business
Bylaw No. 9746, The Business Licence Bylaw, requires every business in Saskatoon to hold a business license.
The purpose of this is to:
- Regulate business;
- Ensure compliance with building and land use regulations;
- Gather land-use information; and
- Facilitate planning decisions.
There are two main categories of business licenses: 1) Commercial Business Licences, and; 2) Home Based Business Licences. A complete list of business licence categories is available in the Business Licence Categories section.
Application information, including for non-resident businesses located outside of Saskatoon, is available in the Business Licence Categories section. Business licence applications are reviewed for compliance with the following requirements:
- Provincial Licence. Does the business have the appropriate provincial licence for the industry? (e.g., journeyperson plumber)
- Land Use. Is the proposed land use the same as the existing approved land use? (e.g., office, retail, restaurant).
- Building Occupancy. Is the proposed National Building Code building occupancy the same as the existing occupancy? (e.g., group A2, D, E)
If one or more of these requirements are not met, the business licence application is put on hold. If the proposed land use or building occupancy is different than what the building and site were approved for, the business will need to apply for a building and development permit to change the use and occupancy (e.g., converting an existing office into a restaurant). The business cannot operate until the building and development permit have been completed, and the business licence has been approved.
Complete business licence applications are reviewed in approximately 10-15 business days. When moving into an existing building, please plan additional time for any building and development permits which may be required to address the change in land use and building occupancy.
Planning Your Business
Before starting a business, it is important to develop a business plan. This is an essential step and critical for the planning and viability of your business. A business plan is a written document that describes in detail how your business is going to achieve its goals.
A business plan will lay out the overall budget, current and projected financing, a market analysis and a marketing strategy. It will help you set realistic and timely goals, secure external funding, measure your success, clarify operational requirements and establish reasonable financial forecasts.
Preparing your plan will help you focus on how to operate your new business and give it the best chance for success. For help preparing a business plan and to learn about all of the necessary steps in starting a business, contact SK Startup Institute. Their mission is to assist Saskatchewan entrepreneurs in preparing for the first steps of starting or growing their business.
Provincial legislation requires the registration of a business name if it’s different than your own personal name.
Before you register a business with the Corporate Registry, you must conduct a province-wide name search to ensure that no other business has registered an identical or very similar name to the one you want to use for your business. A nation-wide business name search is also an option.
Select a business name that best suits your business and submit it to the Corporate Registry for approval.
Once you have reserved a business name, you can register your business. A major decision as you start your new business is the type of ownership it will take. There are three basic structures any business can take, each having different implications for liability, taxation and succession.
Sole Proprietorship is a business with one owner. That owner may be an individual or a corporation. The owner is personally liable for all the debts of the business and pays personal income tax on the net taxable income generated by the business.
Partnership is a business owned by one or more individuals or corporations (in any combination). Within a partnership, each partner is potentially liable for all debts of the partnership and includes their share of income or losses on personal or corporate tax returns.
Corporation is a legal entity that has a separate legal existence apart from its shareholders and directors. It is sometimes also referred to as a ‘limited company'. Since it has a separate legal existence from its shareholders and directors, they are generally not personally liable for the debts of the corporation beyond the amount contributed. Although it is the shareholders which ‘own' a corporation, it is the directors who manage the day-to-day operations. A corporation has to pay tax on its net taxable income and files a separate income tax return. A corporation can be federally or provincially incorporated.
There are many differences between sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations. For explanations of each structure, as well as advantages and disadvantages, talk to one of Square One’s business information officers or consult with a lawyer on the legal differences of each business structure.
Most businesses in Saskatchewan that employ workers on a regular, casual or contractual basis must register and create an account with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB). Registering with the WCB provides workplace insurance coverage and protects both employers and workers from the results of workplace injuries. If you are a sole proprietor, partner or executive officer, you are not automatically covered under the WCB insurance plan. You can apply for optional insurance by calling the WCB.
Understand workplace rights and responsibilities for employers and employees legislated in The Saskatchewan Employment Act. For a basic overview of Saskatchewan’s employment standards, visit the Government of Saskatchewan’s website to view Rights and Responsibilities: A Guide to Employment Standards in Saskatchewan.
Business Number (BN)
The BN is a 9-digit business identifier that simplifies and streamlines the way businesses deal with the federal government. You will need a BN if you need one of the following program accounts:
GST Program Account
The GST is a tax on the sale of most goods and services sold in Canada. Every person or business engaged in a commercial activity with total gross revenue greater than $30,000 in any four consecutive calendar quarters (a 12 month period) is required to register, collect and remit GST.
Corporation Income Tax Program Account
If you want to incorporate your business, contact the Government of Saskatchewan or Industry Canada. When you incorporate, your business will automatically be registered for a business number (BN) and a corporation income tax program account. For a detailed overview on the federal incorporation processes and fees involved, visit the Corporations Canada website to view the Guide to Federal Incorporation.
Import-Export Program Account
Whether you are building a new structure or moving into an existing one, contact Planning & Development to determine if the proposed location is zoned for the type of business you want to establish.
City of Saskatoon, Planning & Development
Existing Buildings: If structural alterations are planned, or a change of use or occupancy to the building will occur, a building permit is required.
New Buildings: A building permit is required prior to the start of construction.
City of Saskatoon, Building Standards
A plumbing permit is required to construct, alter, extend, renew or repair a plumbing system. A permit is not required to clear a stoppage in a drainage system, repair a leak in a water distribution system, replace a fixture without any change to the drainage system or to replace existing faucets, water heaters or valves.
To obtain a permit, a licensed plumber acting on your behalf must apply for a plumbing permit at the Building Standards office. Inspections of the plumbing system are then carried out, with a final inspection being required before a new system can be put into service.
City of Saskatoon, Building Standards
All businesses or persons providing a good or service in Saskatoon must obtain a City of Saskatoon business license. The City of Saskatoon licenses businesses to ensure compliance with land use and building regulations, to minimize land use conflicts, to gather land use information upon which commercial and industrial policies are based, and to facilitate effective planning decisions.
The type of license required is dependent on the business you operate, as well as its location. Several types of businesses have additional approvals or licenses that are required in order to operate. In some cases these approvals are required before a City of Saskatoon business license can be approved.
Application forms are available on the City of Saskatoon website. All business license applications are reviewed for compliance with relevant City bylaws and land use regulations. If your application is approved, you will receive written confirmation by mail, along with your business license, in approximately 7 to 10 business days. A business license is valid for one year from the date it is issued, unless otherwise stated on the license.
City of Saskatoon, Business License Program
All forms of signs in Saskatoon are regulated for safety and aesthetic reasons. The goal is to ensure that the use and placement of signs does not create a hazard for pedestrians or motorists, that signs are well maintained and that the number of signs does not affect the attractiveness of the city.
Permanent and portable signs require a sign permit. Home based businesses are not permitted to erect signs on or within the vicinity of the site.
City of Saskatoon, Community Standards
If you are buying or leasing a building, meet with fire officials prior to making an offer to purchase or lease to ensure fire systems are up to code. For more information or to arrange an inspection, contact the Fire Marshal.
City of Saskatoon, Saskatoon Fire Department
Once you have 'planned out' your business and have read through the requirements listed above, you can apply with Business Licence Online.
All information contained within BizPaL, the Business Start-Up Guide, or the Service Directory is for reference purposes only. Information presented is deemed to be as accurate as possible. Users are advised to contact Community Standards for assistance, as the City of Saskatoon accepts no responsibility to persons or businesses relying solely on this information.
BizPaL is an innovative online project designed to help Canadian businesses save time when accessing licensing and permit information from multiple levels of government. This unique partnership between federal, provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments provides entrepreneurs and business people in Saskatoon with simplified access to the information they need to launch or grow their businesses.
Simply provide some generic information on the type of business you want to start or operate and the activities you will undertake. BizPaL will then automatically generate a list of all required permits and licences from the three levels of government, along with basic information on each (including web links where available).