Business licensing in British Columbia
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you are unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experience, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
I’m hosting Experiences in British Columbia , am I operating a business that requires a permit or license?
In most cases, yes. If you are hosting in Vancouver, Victoria, and/or Whistler, continue reading for more information.
In the City of Vancouver, Hosts may need to obtain business licenses whenever the endeavour is operating to make a profit. The rules in License Bylaw 4450 state that all persons doing business within the city limits will need a business license, and in some situations an additional business permit. Canadian jurisprudence has focused on the “preponderant purpose” of the endeavor. If the preponderant purpose of an endeavor is to make a profit then it is generally considered to be a business.
In the City of Victoria, Hosts may need to obtain business licenses whenever the person is carrying on a business, profession, occupation, calling or employment. All persons conducting a business within the city limits will need a business licensed. You can find out more about the by looking at Business License Bylaw No. 89-071.
Any person carrying out a business activity or an activity which is mainly intended to make a profit in the Resort Municipality of Whistler is required to obtain a business licence. In some cases (depending on the type of business activity and/or the location in which it is being conducted) a specific type of business permit may be required. For instance, hosts may also need to observe the rules for a home occupation business. You can find out more by consulting the rules in Business Licence Bylaw No. 567, 1987 and Business Regulation Bylaw No. 739, 1989.
How do I obtain a business license to host in British Columbia? When will I need an additional permit?
Depending on the activity you will be providing or organising, you may need to register, obtain licenses, or follow specific rules that apply to that activity. Our section on activity specific licensing requirements and rules covers some of the typical activities that you might engage in, though is not intended to be comprehensive.
Hosts looking to get a business license can choose from the different options provided by the City of Vancouver here. Once you have chosen which license best suits your situation, you can file for it in person, by post, or by email. Information on applications, fees, and forms can be found directly from the City of Vancouver business licensing website here.
The City of Vancouver website gives information on additional permits that may be needed. There are a broad range of permits, which are required based either on the types of businesses, and/or the location where business is conducted. Official information on the permits you may need to do business, as well as applications for these permits, can be found at the City of Vancouver website here.
For hosts in Victoria, you can find out more about how to apply for a business licence by contacting the city’s business licenses bureau or visiting their business licensing website. You can apply for a business license in person, by post or by email – the respective fee depends on the class of business you are seeking to run. There may be additional requirements applicable to specific businesses. The City of Victoria’s website also provides a helpful guide for residents that are starting their own business for the first time - additional information on sign and building permits can be found here.
You can find out more about how to apply for a business licence, as well as how to contact the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s business licenses bureau, on their business licensing website. You can apply for a business license in person, by post or by email – the respective fee depends on the class of business you are seeking to run but costs a minimum of $165.
You will also find some information about the situations in which an additional business permit or fee may be required on this page of the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s website. Note that there are certain activities which are prohibited under law and for which it is not possible to obtain a business licence – you can find a list of these here.
Is there anything else I should be thinking about?
Yes, you should consider the following:
Pay attention to the laws and regulations of that local jurisdiction. If your Experience takes place in multiple locations or cities, you may be subject to the laws and regulations in multiple cities. Note that certain business licences for businesses operating in nearby municipalities may be honoured by neighboring cities. Regardless, hosts should check with the local municipal authority for the applicable rules, registrations, or licenses. The permits necessary may vary by municipality. If you need more information, check with your local municipality for additional details.
Tax and Accounting
You should always check with your local municipal government or seek advice from a legal professional. Also check with the relevant professionals where tax and accounting rules apply to you, and make sure you have the right insurance cover in place to cover all the activities you will be providing.
Depending on the type of experience you offer, you may be eligible for coverage by Airbnb’s Experience Protection Insurance (“EPI”). See here and here to learn more about EPI. Even if you are covered by EPI, you may want to obtain additional insurance. See here for a discussion of different types of insurance, and talk to an insurance broker for more information.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).