Application Requirements for Business, Trades and Professions

How to apply for a restaurant licence or a licence to sell food from a retail store

In the City of Toronto, there are two different types of licences for stationary businesses which sell food, which differ mainly based on whether there is a seating area:

1. Eating establishments - restaurants, cafes and other eating and drinking establishments which have seating

This includes any businesses where food or beverages are sold and there is seating so that the they can be consumed there.  Some examples include restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, burger shops, delicatessens, donut shops, fish and chips stores and pizza parlours.  

Accreditation for staff who handle food

Staff who handle food in these establishments must have Accredited Food Handler Certification.  This includes waiters, waitresses, hosts, hostesses, bartenders, cooks and every other person serving or making available food or drink.

Other operating requirements

These businesses must also provide:

  • adequate supervision of dining rooms, including outside eating areas;
  • a  sufficient number of attendants to ensure that outside eating areas are kept clean and free of garbage at all times; and
  • a sufficient number of appropriate containers for garbage and waste. 

See Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 545 for complete operation requirements.

2. Retail stores which sell food - groceries, convenience stores and other retail stores that sell food and which do not have seating

This includes any businesses where food is stored, prepared, or sold for human consumption, and which do not have a seating area where food can be consumed.  Examples include groceries, convenience stores, stores with standing counters and takeout food restaurants. 

Other types of retail businesses

The City of Toronto also licenses retail stores which sell cigarettes and other tobacco products, pet stores and those conducting special sales, such as for bankruptcy.  For other types of retail businesses.  For more information on licensing and regulation of other retails businesses at other levels of governments, we suggest you contact the Government of Canada agency Canada Business Network at 1-888-576-4444.

How to apply for an Eating and Drinking Establishment licence (businesses which sell food/beverages and have seating)

Applicants must apply in person at the Licence & Permit Issuing Office with the following:

What you need to apply 

Who can apply Individuals, partnerships or corporations.
How to apply

Applicants can apply in person at the Licence & Permit Issuing Office at East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell, 3rd floor.

Partnerships and corporations (not applicable to individuals) Applicants must provide a business address, as well as other documents depending on the business.  Documents may include articles of incorporation, corporate profiles, franchise agreements, partnership agreements and provincial name registration. 

Learn more here.

Preliminary Property Review The applicant should contact Toronto Building to request a Preliminary Property Review. (This can be done by email or in-person at a Toronto Building counter.)
Application fee * $481.81 
 
View all business, trades, and profession application and renewal fees.
Identification 

Two pieces of government-issued identification, including:

  1. proof of work status, such as a Canadian Passport or Citizenship Card, Permanent Resident Card, Work Permit, Canadian Birth Certificate; and
  2. a valid photo ID such as a Driver's Licence, Photo Identification Card, Canadian Passport.


Note that Health Cards are not accepted.

Criminal reference checks   Applicants must provide a criminal reference check issued by a Canadian Police Service within 280 days prior to the application.  Learn more here.
What happens after you apply

Where other division approvals are necessary for a licence or permit to be granted, Municipal Licensing & Standards (ML&S) staff will initiate the approval process once an application is received, and applicants are not required to take any further actions at this stage.  

 

How to apply for a licence to operate a Retail business which sells food (businesses which sell food/beverages and do not have seating)

Applicants must apply in person at the Licence & Permit Issuing Office with the following:

What you need to apply 

Who can apply Individuals, partnerships or corporations.
How to apply

Applicants can apply in person at the Licence & Permit Issuing Office at East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell, 3rd floor.

Partnerships and corporations (not applicable to individuals) Applicants must provide a business address, as well as other documents depending on the business.  Documents may include articles of incorporation, corporate profiles, franchise agreements, partnership agreements and provincial name registration. 

Learn more here.

Application fee * $  355.34

View all business, trades, and profession application and renewal fees.
Identification 

Two pieces of government-issued identification, including:

  1. proof of work status, such as a Canadian Passport or Citizenship Card, Permanent Resident Card, Work Permit, Canadian Birth Certificate; and
  2. a valid photo ID such as a Driver's Licence, Photo Identification Card, Canadian Passport.


Note that Health Cards are not accepted.

Criminal reference checks   Applicants must provide a criminal reference check issued by a Canadian Police Service within 280 days prior to the application.  Learn more here.
What happens after you apply

Where other division approvals are necessary for a licence or permit to be granted, Municipal Licensing & Standards (ML&S) staff will initiate the approval process once an application is received, and applicants are not required to take any further actions at this stage.  

See the table below for the list of approvals ML&S will seek.

Who City staff will contactWhat they will request
Toronto Building

Zoning approval is required for the majority of new business licence applications. For those businesses in which zoning approval is required, ML&S staff will initiate the approval process after the application is received. Learn more about zoning.

Zoning approval is not required if an applicant it taking over an existing business that has a valid business licence or is expired less than one year prior. A signed lease agreement or proof or property ownership is required.

* If the licence or permit is granted, licensees and/or permit holders will be required to pay an annual renewal fee, listed in the Fees table. 

For complete application and operating requirements, visit Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 545, Licensing.

Applicants must also satisfy the Business Licensing Thresholds in Appendix K.