Licences, Permits and Exemptions

Business, trades and professions - Licences and permits section

Many business, trades and professions require a licence to operate in Toronto. Most applicants must apply in person at the Licence and Permit Issuing Office. To view the application requirements for specific licences and permits, see below. 

News and Updates

Vehicle-for-Hire

The new Vehicle-for-Hire bylaw, in effect on July 15, 2016 will substantially change the city's approach to regulation within the ground transportation industry.

By creating the new Private Transportation Company (PTC) licensing category, companies such as Uber will be permitted to operate in Toronto, with regulation.

Which business, trades and professions require a licence?

In Toronto, certain businesses, trades and professions are required to have licences and or permits, as per Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 545, Chapter 546 and other Toronto bylaws.  The section below contains application requirements for all businesses, trades and professions which require a licence. 

How to apply

ExpandAdult entertainment club, manager & entertainer

In Toronto, Adult Entertainment Clubs (AECs) are businesses that provide services appealing to erotic or sexual appetites, such as topless dancing.  AECs are also commonly referred to as "strip clubs" and entertainers as "strippers" or "dancers". AECs owners and operators, their managers and their entertainers are required to be licensed.

Learn how to apply, as well as related regulations and conditions.

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ExpandBody piercing, electrolysis, hair salon, nail shop, tattoo, waxing and other personal services

Businesses that provide personal services that could pierce the skin are required to obtain a "Personal Service Settings" licence.

Different types of personal service activities include:

  • Aesthetics - beautifying, cleaning, stimulating, hydrating or waxing the skin through the use of cleansers, antiseptics, lotions, exfoliants, masques, essential oils and hair removal waxes
  • Body piercing - piercing the skin with a needle, ear-piercing device to insert jewellery
  • Electrolysis - removing hair through an electric current conducted through a needle  inserted into a hair follicle
  • Hairstyling - cutting, shaving, styling or hair colouring, including facial hair
  • Manicure and pedicures - cosmetic treatment of nails and skin on hands and feet; and
  • Tattoo and micropigmentation - depositing pigments below the skin with needles

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ExpandBody Rub Parlour and Body Rubber

In the City of Toronto, “body rub parlours” are considered any place where non-medical or non-therapeutic kneading, manipulating, rubbing, massaging, touching, or stimulating services are provided by persons other than  registered massage therapists or other qualified, licensed or registered holistic practitioners.

Those who own or operate body rub parlours are required to possess a Body Rub Parlour licence and those who provide services are required to obtain a Body Rubber licence. 

The City of Toronto is not currently accepting applications for new Body Rub Parlours, however is accepting applications for Body Rubber licences.

Learn how to apply, as well as related regulations and conditions below.

In the City of Toronto, “body rub parlours” are considered any place where non-medical or non-therapeutic kneading, manipulating, rubbing, massaging, touching, or stimulating services are provided by persons other than  registered massage therapists or other qualified, licensed or registered holistic practitioners.

Those who own or operate body rub parlours are required to possess a Body Rub Parlour licence and those who provide services are required to obtain a Body Rubber licence. 

The City of Toronto is not currently accepting applications for new Body Rub Parlours, however is accepting applications for Body Rubber licences.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandBuilding cleaner

In Toronto, a person who cleans/restores the exterior of buildings/structures using pressurized air, water, steam, sand or other abrasives is required to obtain a licence.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandBuilding renovators

In Toronto, a person who repairs or renovates buildings/structures, including anyone who advertises themselves as a renovator, is required to obtain a licence.  Building renovation following activities:

  • bricklaying/masonry
  • carpentry
  • caulking
  • flat roofing
  • concrete work
  • drywall/taping
  • eavestroughing
  • installation of aluminum or vinyl products
  • manufacture or installation of cabinets and vanities
  • plastering
  • shingling
  • stucco
  • tile setting
  • tuck pointing
  • underpinning 
  • waterproofing

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ExpandCar wash, gas station or public garage

In Toronto, a Public Garage licence is required to operate a car rental lot, gas station, car repair shop, car wash, or public garage.

 As of September 1, 2015, businesses which operate Commercial Parking lots are required to obtain a Commercial Parking lot licence, (rather than a Public Garage licence which was the case in the past.) Learn more here

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandClothing Drop Box

Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 395, Clothing Drop Boxes,  requires that all clothing drop boxes placed on private or public property display a permit.

  • All clothing box operators require location permits for each box.
  • Only two drop boxes will be allowed per municipal address.
  • All clothing drop box operators, including charitable organizations, must display the permit sticker.

 

The Clothing Drop Box By-law ensures that the public is aware of where used clothing donations are going, creates a registry of clothing box owners and deters litter and unsightly views for residents.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandCommercial Parking Lot

The CPL Operator Licence applies to the operator of “any location that demands compensation in relation to the use of a parking space.”

Each location to be operated as a CPL (whether on a temporary or permanent basis), requires:

  • a separate CPL Operator licence; and
  • appropriate zoning clearance under existing zoning by-laws, in order to operate and be licensed.

The licence requirement does not apply to:

  • parking lots that offer free parking;
  • parking space rented on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis for an individual's exclusive use;
  • parking space located upon the driveway of a residential building;
  • parking lots operated by or under the authority of the Toronto Parking Authority regulated under Chapter 179;
  • parking locations operated by City agencies, boards, commissions and divisions; and
  • parking locations operated by registered charitable organizations.

 

Where the property owner and the operator of the parking lot on that property are notthe same entity, the operator must provide to ML&S, proof of authorization from the property owner.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandDriving school operators and instructors

Businesses which provide in-class and in-vehicle instruction require driving school operator licences, while person who provide driving instruction require a driving instructor licence.

Read more to find application requirements for operators and instructors.

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ExpandFood trucks, food carts, ice cream trucks and other street food vendors

Toronto's Street Vending Bylaw balances the City's need to manage the competing uses of the streets and sidewalks and improve public access to a diversity of street food across the city.

All street food vendors wishing to operate in the City of Toronto, on either public or private property, require a valid business licence. Vendors wishing to operate on the City's streets or sidewalks also require a vending permit.

Read more to find application requirements.

NEW: Join us at Nathan Phillips Square for a street food series throughout the summer.

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ExpandGrocery, restaurants, cafes and other retail stores that sell food

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, or;

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

Read more to find application requirements for both. 

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ExpandHawker/ pedlar and assistant

Hawkler-pedlars are mobile salespeople who sell a variety of goods, such souvenirs, clothing, packaged goods, or who provide a variety of services, such as knife sharpening and shoe shining. In Toronto, they are required to be licensed.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandHeating contractor

In Toronto, Heating Contractors are required to obtain a licence. Heating Contractors are people engaged in the business of installing warm air, hot water or steam heating equipment of any kind excepting the installation of oil tanks and oil and gas burners. This includes anyone who advertises themselves as a heating contractor.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandHolistic centre and practitioner

Businesses and practitioners which provide "holistic" services are required to be licensed. Examples of holistic services include reiki, aromatherapy, or massage for therapeutic reasons.

Read more to find application requirements.

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ExpandInsulation installer

In Toronto, Insulation Installers are required to obtain a licence. An Insulation Installer is a person who installs insulation materials in buildings.

Read more to find out application requirements.

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ExpandLaundry

In Toronto, businesses/laundromats where people pay money to do their own laundry are required to obtain a licence.

Read more to find out application requirements. 

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ExpandOutdoor marketing stalls and displays

In Toronto and East York, businesses can apply for an outdoor marketing display (also called "boulevard marketing") permit to allow them to display their merchandise outside of their business on the sidewalk. The merchandise sold inside and outside must be the same.

Read more to find out about the legislation review and how to apply.

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ExpandPet shop

In Toronto, pet shops are required to obtain a licence. This includes shops or places where animals, including birds, are sold or kept for sale.

Read more to find application requirements. 

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ExpandPlumbing & Heating

In Toronto, a person who s engaged in plumbing or heating is required to obtain a licence. This includes persons who installs warm air, hot water or steam heating equipment, or who is engaged in contracting for the making and repairing on plumbing installations.

Read more to find out application requirements.

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ExpandPedicab owner and driver

A "pedicab" is a vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by human muscular power, with or without the assistance of an electric motor, and includes a pedal-powered rickshaw. In Toronto, those who own and operate pedicabs are required to be licensed.

Read more to find out about application requirements.

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ExpandPrivate parking enforcement agency

All Private Parking Enforcement Agencies (PPEAs) operating in the City of Toronto require a PPEA licence.

Read more to find out about application requirements.

Changes as of September 1, 2015

  • The definition of a Private Parking Enforcement Agency” will include only those that sell their services for compensation, so that businesses that conduct parking enforcement solely on their properties to ensure their parking facilities are being used only by their patrons, members, employees, or tenants, and are not in the business of selling such services (‘in-house’ agencies), will not require a PPEA licence.
  • These ‘in-house’ agencies will continue to require certification as Municipal Law Enforcement Officers (MLEOs) under the Toronto Police Service's (TPS) Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) Program to issue City parking infraction notices and TPS tow cards.
  • PPEAs will need to file their agreements (within 5 days instead of 10 days following the execution of an agreement) and their listing of properties for which parking enforcement services will be provided, only with the TPS Parking Enforcement Unit. Procedurally, TPS will share the required documents with ML&S.
  • The by-law will clarify that the only types of documents that may be issued by PPEAs/MLEOs are: warning notices, Parking Infraction Notices under Part II of the Provincial Offences Act, and/or Toronto Police Service Tow Cards.
  • PPEAs/MLEOs must not restrain or immobilize any vehicle, by placing a boot or attaching any device that prevents the vehicle from being driven.
  • PPEAs/MLEOs may tow un-plated vehicles, provided that the necessary safety and criminal checks are conducted and approval is received from TPS, prior to removing any vehicle.
  • The same PPEA/MLEO who issues a parking infraction notice will no longer be required to also issue the tow card for a vehicle to be towed.

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ExpandSecond-hand salvage yards and shops

In Toronto, businesses which are second hand salvage yards and which sell second hand goods require a licence.

Salvage yards versus second hand shops

  • Second hand salvage yards are considered businesses which may store scrap metal, tires and old vehicles, and which may store their merchandise in and outside.
  • Second hand shops sell other second-hand goods, such as dishes or clothing, however do not include those shops that sell only second hand books or CDs.

Read more to find out application requirements for both. 

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ExpandSidewalk Patio/ Boulevard Cafe

In Toronto and East York, businesses can apply for a sidewalk cafe permit to allow them to have an outdoor patio where they can serve their menu.

The cost of the permit is dependent on the location of the business.

Read more on the legislation review, how to apply, as well as related regulations and conditions.

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ExpandTemporary signs

There are two types of signs: temporary and permanent. Temporary signs are not permanently attached or fixed to a structure or surface. Find out whether your temporary sign needs a permit below. You can apply by mail or in person. 

For information about permanent sign regulations, click here.

Read more to find application requirements. 

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ExpandTheatre

In Toronto, businesses that operate theatres are required to obtain a theatre licence.

Read more to find out about application requirements.

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ExpandHow to apply for a Private Transportation Company Driver's Licence

In Toronto, Private Transportation Company and their drivers must be licensed. A Private Transportation Company (PTC) connects passengers with drivers of private vehicles through an "app".  All trips must be booked through the PTC's app (cabsand pick-up and street hails are not permitted).

How to apply

The City will not issue PTC driver's licences directly to individuals. PTC drivers must work with a licensed PTC to become a licensed PTC driver. Please contact a licensed PTC directly.  

Who can apply Individuals
How to apply

The City will not issue PTC driver licences directly to individuals. You will need to apply through your PTC company for a licence prior to driving for a PTC.

  • Even if you have a Vehicle-for-hire driver's licence, you will be required to be licensed as a PTC driver to operate with a PTC.
  • The PTC will apply for a PTC Driver's License on your behalf. Information such as a criminal reference check and driver's record will be shared with the City for review prior to issuing a PTC Driver's Licence

 

More information:

Vehicle-for-Hire Data Sharing Agreement (coming soon)

Screening Criteria for Vehicle-for-Hire Drivers and PTC Drivers

  
Application fee The PTC is responsible for submitting this fee to the City. The City's annual licensing fee for the PTC is comprised of: $15/driver plus $0.30/trip.
Insurance

Prior to issuing a PTC driver's licence, proof of a minimum of $2 million coverage in Automobile Liability Insurance for each PTC vehicle must be provided by the PTC to the City.

Vehicle
  • Any four-door vehicle that carries a maximum of seven (7) passengers
  • Vehicles can be up to seven (7) model years

  • Required to have either snow tires or all-weather (not all-season) tires from December 1 to April 1

  • PTC identifier must be displayed in the rear window of your vehicle. Your PTC will provide you with your approved PTC identifier.

Vehicle inspection

PTC vehicles are required to undergo a City-approved inspection

More information:

Inspection Service Providers