Create Your Business

  • Create a plan for the type of bar or nightclub you will open. The Small Business Centre can help you write your plan.  link to a representative for more help

  • Determine your legal structure. Starting a new business means choosing a legal structure that will suit your business needs. The Small Business Centre can help you determine what structure is right for you.  link to a representative for more help

  • Register your business name. Once you have determined the right business structure for you, visit Service Ontario's ONe-Source for Business to register your business name and obtain your Master Business Licence.

  • Apply for a Business Number. The Canada Revenue Agency's Business Registration Online is a one-stop, online, self-serve application that allows you to register for a Business Number, as well as four program accounts: Corporation income tax, GST/HST, and payroll.

  • Research the insurance you will need, such as employment insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Some are required for permits and licenses.

  • Apply for your Liquor Licence early in order to avoid delays. Contact the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to get your application. 1-800-522-2876

  • important information

    Become familiar with provincial and municipal laws governing food safety and tobacco. Visit the Middlesex-London Health Unit to access all the information you will need.

  • important information

    An accountant can help you prepare financially for HST payments and instalments, payroll, etc.

Plan Your Space

  • Find a location zoned for your business. The City of London's Zoning Division can help you with this. 519-661-4555

  • Thinking of locating Downtown? Downtown London can help.  link to a representative for more help

  • You may wish to have a licensed professional review your plan before any construction.

  • Sign your lease. Before signing your lease, speak with City of London Zoning Officer.  link to a representative for more help

  • To learn what inspectors often look for check out our Consolidated Inspector's Checklist.

  • The City of London offers financial incentives for building improvements in the Downtown, Old East Village and SOHO areas. Speak with the Planning Division to learn more. 519-661-4980

  • Thinking of adding a patio? Talk to the Middlesex-London Health Unit to learn about tobacco regulations for patios at 519-661-5317 ext. 2673  link to a representative for more help

  • important information

    There are different processes for heritage properties. Consult the Planning Division to learn more. 519-661-4980

  • important information

    Taking over a space that previously was a bar or nightclub can save construction time and costs, but only if it had passed inspections and was in compliance with existing regulations.

  • important information

    Cosmetic changes can add time and paperwork, so consider the impact of each change on your timeline.

  • critical information

    Health violations are sometimes identified after you open your business. Pay attention now to avoid costly changes after you are open. Contact the Middlesex London Health Unit early to have them review your building plans.  link to a representative for more help

Apply For Your Building Permit

  • Cooking on stoves or with gas ovens requires a range hood and fire suppression system. Consult a Fire Inspector if you are unsure.  link to a representative for more help

  • Submit your building permit application in person (7th Floor, City Hall).  link to a representative for more help

  • Monitor the status of your application on the City's Building Permit Inspection System.  link to a representative for more help

  • critical information

    Know the utility requirements for your property (gas, electric, water, sewer) and consider the potential costs.

Begin Construction

  • After your plans have been approved your Building Permit will be issued. All permits must be displayed at the worksite.

  • Begin construction.

  • Mandatory inspections will be made throughout construction. Your Building Permit will include a list of the required inspections for your project.

  • If you want to install a canopy or signs on the outside of the building, ensure you comply with the City of London Sign & Canopy By-law.

  • important information

    Be aware of construction overruns. They can add time and cost to your project.

Apply For Your Business Licence

  • Make sure that all permits related to your property are closed. Access the City's Property Inquiry System online or contact the Building Division. 519-661-4555  link to a representative for more help

  • When completing your Business Licence application, don't forget to bring:

    • Copy of lease or property ownership confirmation
    • Master Business Licence or Articles of Incorporation
    • Site Plan (if you are planning to request a liquor licence for an outside patio)

    The Licensing Division will arrange your final inspections once your application is submitted.  link to a representative for more help

  • important information

    A Business Licence Application is valid for 90 days. Make sure that you plan to open within 90 days of applying for your Eating Establishment Licence.  link to a representative for more help

Prepare To Open

  • Obtain your Business Licence. The Licensing Office will mail this to you once all inspections are complete.  link to a representative for more help

  • If you are preparing food, make sure you or one of your employees has a Food Handler Certificate – a certificate holder must be on premises supervising food preparation at all times. Certification can be obtained through the Middlesex-London Health Unit.  link to a representative for more help

  • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training will be required for any employees handling controlled products (chemicals) used in dishwashing equipment, cleaning and disinfectants, etc.

  • Ensure that anyone serving alcohol in your establishment has obtained their Smart Serve Training Program certificate.

  • Become familiar with municipal by-laws regulating noise. Contact the Building Division to learn more. 519-661-4570

  • Thinking about offering shisha/hookah smoking or selling tobacco products? Contact the Middlesex-London Health Unit 519-663-5317 ext. 2673

  • important information

    Hire a private hauler for recycling and waste removal services. Resources such as the Yellow Pages can provide a list of service providers.

  • critical information

    Ensure you have a health and safety program in place. As of July 1, 2014, every Ontario worker must undergo health and safety awareness training. Contact Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to get started. 1-877-494-9777

  • critical information

    All security guards working in your establishment must be licensed by the Province of Ontario Be sure to register as an employer or hire from a Licensed Security Guard Agency. Visit Service Ontario to learn more.  link to a representative for more help

Open Your Doors

You've opened your doors and are operating your bar or nightclub. Congratulations! Plan ahead to keep things running smoothly.

Staying Open

  • Mark your calendar. Schedule equipment maintenance and set reminders to renew your licences and certifications.

  • Make sure you have a Fire Safety Plan in place. Consult a Fire Inspector to learn more.

  • Avoid violations and be ready for inspections. Violations put employees at risk, and cost you time and money.

  • Be ready for inspections. Random inspections can take place any time throughout the year.

  • Show prices and print your business name and address on receipts.

  • Post all required permits and signage, such as your Liquour Licence, Middlesex-London Health Unit Premises Inspection Summary, No Smoking signs, etc.

  • Work with your accountant to prepare your income tax return. Visit the Canada Revenue Agency to learn more.

  • If you own your space - be prepared to pay property taxes. Instalment due dates are noted on your tax bill. Contact the City of London Tax Division to learn more.

  • Avoid sewer backups by properly maintaining your grease interceptor.

  • Thinking of making changes to your space? Changes may affect your existing licences and permits. Contact Service London Business to find out. 519-661-2500 ext. 7650 link to a representative for more help

Nicole Musicco

Not sure where to start?
Our Business Connector is here to help!
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Nicole Musicco

Business Connector - Service London

City of London

Phone: 519-661-2500 Ext. 7650



Nicole can help you navigate the process of starting or expanding your business from start to finish. Contact her today to book an appointment.

Ask Us - We Can Help!

Bar and Night Club champions
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Catherine DeForest

Manager, Business Services, Development & Compliance: City of London

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 1541


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David Pavletic, MPH, CPHI(C)

Manager, Environmental Health: Middlesex-London Health Unit

Phone: (519) 663-5317 ext. 2303


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Lou Pompilii

Manager, Zoning and Public Property Compliance, Development and Compliance: City of London

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 4998


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Phil Singeris

Business Information Advisor: Small Business Centre

Phone: (519) 659-2882 ext. 227


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John Anagnostou

Business Advisor: Small Business Centre

Phone: (519) 659-2882 ext. 230


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Dianne Lebold

Assistant Chief Fire Prevention Officer: London Fire Services

Phone: (519) 661-2500 ext. 4996


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Kathy McLaughlin

Program Coordinator: Downtown London

Phone: (519) 432-9816


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Linda Stobo

Manager, Tobacco Control: Middlesex-London Health Unit

Phone: (519) 663-5317 ext. 2388


Become a Champion

To find out how, call us at:

(519) 661-2500 ext. 4893

Or email: