Home Based Business: Licenses, Zoning, Insurance
The following information answers questions we frequently hear from women who are setting up businesses on the Sunshine Coast or working from home. Be sure to check with local government about your particular business or situation.
Sections in this Page
Do I need a business license for my Home-Based Business?
Gibsons, Sechelt and SIGD
If you live in the Town of Gibsons, the District of Sechelt, or the Sechelt Indian Government District (SIGD), the official answer is yes. For instance, Gibsons requires a license for any home based business operated “for gain or profit”. However most residents are unaware of this, and many “invisible” home-based businesses do not buy a license.
(Not sure where you live? Check this electoral areas map.)
- Town of Gibsons – To get a business license go to Town Hall, 474 South Fletcher Road. Fees vary according to the type of business. (Details are in Bylaw 666, Appendix A.) Most fees range from $100-$300.
- District of Sechelt – Sechelt business licenses are sold online , or at the municipal office, 5797 Cowrie Street. The Sechelt Business Licence fee is $125, or $175 for a business offering two or more types of services. (Details in Bylaw 520.)
- Sechelt Indian Government District (SIGD) – SIGD licenses are sold at the SIGD Office, Suite C, 5555 Sunshine Coast Hwy. In the SIGD, fees vary according to type of business. (Details in Schedule A of Law 1989-05.) Most typical home-based business would pay $50.
If you live in a rural area of the Sunshine Coast Regional District, the answer is no, because the SCRD does not issue business licenses. Note: many people whose mailing address is “Gibsons, BC” live outside the Town’s boundaries in the SCRD.
Inter-Community Business Licenses
If you have a mobile business that deliver services coastwide, you can buy an inter-community license that covers Sechelt, Gibsons and the Sechelt Band Lands. Some examples are lawn care, home support services, or sales that involve visiting a customer’s home.
- Sechelt residents buy your license at the District of Sechelt. They will charge their regular fee plus $50.
- SIGD residents buy a business license from the SIGD and then go to Sechelt and get an inter-community license for an additional $50.
- Gibsons residents should ask for an inter-community license when you buy your business license and it will be added at no extra charge.
- SCRD residents can apply either at Gibsons or Sechelt.
What about Zoning? Is my Home-Based Business permitted?
In general, if your home-based business does not have employees (other than family), does not have customers visiting, and is not creating noise, traffic or other nuisance to the neighbours, you are probably fine.
Gibsons and Sechelt
In single family dwelling zones, bylaws place restrictions around daycares (Sechelt), bed & breakfasts, putting up commercial signs on your property, outside storage of equipment and materials, traffic, and parking. Retail sales are limited to goods that you produce yourself (e.g. artists’ studios).
The SIGD does not have zoning. Check the terms of your lease agreement (for leased properties) or with SIB Housing (for band members) to see if a home-based business is allowed.
First, be sure you know which Rural Area you are in (A, B, D, E or F). Then check your property’s zoning, and the relevant Zoning bylaw. There are restrictions around home occupations, daycares, bed & breakfasts, putting up commercial signs on your property, outside storage of equipment and materials, traffic, and parking. If you intend to have customers or clients visit your home or are creating any parking congestion or disturbance, you are well advised to talk to your neighbours. Bylaw enforcement is complaint driven.
What about Insurance?
Some people who run businesses from home are reluctant to disclose this to their home insurance provider, for fear that their premiums will rise, but you should consider this:
- If you invite clients, customers, colleagues or employees to your home you should be covered for liability in case they have an accident on your property.
- If you have important equipment you use for your business that would be expensive to replace, you want to be sure it’s covered. This includes computers.
Other considerations include checking that your auto insurance covers the use of your vehicle for business. And many types of businesses should buy general business liability insurance, especially those who deliver personal services (such as hairdressing), who work on customers’ property, or who handle other people’s belongings (e.g. taking items for repair).