Documents needed to operate a business in Edmonton

If you’re operating a business in Edmonton, there are certain documents that you must obtain. The required documentation includes licensing, insurance, Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) coverage, and permits. These documents will separate the legal and legitimate companies from the fraudulent ones.

In the home improvement industry, showing your customers these qualifications and documents is vital. Homeowners need to know that you are legitimate and trustworthy. They want to see that insurance is in place to protect them and their home. Plus, it protects your business and workers too.

Whether you’re starting or have been offering services for years, homeowners need to know that you are a qualified expert in your field. It’s in your best interest, and in some cases required by law, to have adequate documentation in place.

Here are some documents that are needed to operate a business in Edmonton.

Business License

Anyone offering goods and services in Edmonton needs to have a business license. It shows your customers that you are a legitimate company. Business licensing is proof that you are complying with local regulations and laws.

Registering your business with the government means that your company is declaring payroll, remitting GST, paying WBC premiums, and paying into the Canadian Pension Plan for employees. If you’re not doing this or withholding these payments, you can be charged with fraud.

You will need a specific license depending on how you are operating your business. Licensing will differ if you’re working out of a commercial or industrial location or running a home-based business. If you’re based out of town, you’ll also need a different type of license.

The application for a business license in Edmonton is not complicated. The city offers instructions on how to apply for a business license.

Prepaid Contracting License

If you solicit, negotiate or conclude prepaid contracts in person at any place other than your place of business, you need a prepaid contracting license. You also need one if you accept money before completing the work or providing services, or both.

Prepaid contracts are for construction, renovating, altering, repairing, or retrofitting any property or dwelling. They also include any contracting work done in conjunction with a home or building, like landscaping services. You can obtain a prepaid contracting license on a per-project basis.

Learn more about getting a prepaid contracting license in Alberta.

WCB Coverage

All businesses must register with the Alberta WCB. Some businesses without employees are exempt from providing compensation, but that list of exceptions is small. Investigate what coverage your specific business is require to have.

If you hire any type of employee, you must register with the Alberta WCB within 15 days of hiring your first worker. That includes full-time, part-time, seasonal, sub-contractors, temporary foreign workers, and even unpaid workers. The WCB will require detailed information about your business, services, and goods provided, and payroll estimates for your employees.

Keep in mind that WCB coverage for your employees does not cover you personally. If you’re a business owner, you should obtain personal WCB coverage.

Why is WCB necessary?

WCB will protect you and your workers in the case of a workplace accident or injury. It will cover medical bills and salaries during an injured employee’s leave. WCB coverage protects you and your employees from lawsuits. You’ll be responsible for paying for lost wages, medical and rehabilitation costs, and legal charges without it.

It is illegal for employers not to cover their employees. If your workers are not covered, you might face legal action if something happens to them.

Homeowners will want to see proof of your WCB coverage before you start working on their project. They do not want to be held liable for any damage or injury that happens on their property. RenovationFind recommends that homeowners ask for proof of WCB coverage, including evidence that premiums contractors pay their premiums. Not having WCB coverage will harm your reputation and your business.

Liability Insurance

Commercial liability insurance covers common business risks and is recommended for independent contractors. Risks could include damage to a customer’s property, customer injury, and protection from costly lawsuits. Liability insurance is not mandatory but highly recommended.

Insurance can also help your business qualify for contracts and leases. Without it, you can be held legally and financially responsible for any damages or injuries that might occur on the worksite. You can also be held accountable for any accident that happens as a result of your work. For example, if you’re a plumber soldering a pipe and your equipment malfunctions and starts an accidental fire. You could be liable for that damage.

Customers will want you to have liability insurance. It protects homeowners from accidents, injury, or damage caused by you or any of your work. Many homeowners will not hire a company that is not well insured.

You can learn more about liability insurance and other coverage options from your insurance provider. If you need to, shop around for a policy that best suits your company and needs.

What is professional liability insurance?

While commercial liability insurance can protect you from accidents and injury, it doesn’t cover everything. Anything that goes wrong that is considered your responsibility as a contractor will only be covered under professional liability insurance.

Professional liability insurance will cover damage claims made as to the result of your error or alleged poor performance. Examples include project delays, issues with the end-results, or any other problem considered a failure to render your professional services. These issues could all bring expensive legal claims. Some contractors choose to obtain professional liability insurance as a precaution and for extra protection.  This article can help you understand your professional risk exposure.

What is risk insurance?

Risk insurance is optional coverage typically used in construction. It protects a property or home while being renovated or built and only during the work period. It also covers businesses and contractors from risks like vandalism or natural hazards that can damage the property or project. Risk insurance is not mandatory but recommended for builders and renovators for the duration of their significant projects.

Trades Certification

In Alberta, specific trades contractors need certification to operate and provide services. Examples of those trades include plumbers, gasfitters, electricians, HVAC technicians, and many others. You are required to have your journeyperson certification, registered apprenticeship, or other valid, recognized credentials. Without them, it is not legal for you to work in the field.

Check this list of trades and occupations that require compulsory certification.

Check for certification when hiring contractors or employees

Your tradespeople should always carry their pocket certificate with them while on the job site. If you’re hiring a new worker, they should be able to show you their certification. You do not want to be held responsible for sending an uncertified tradesperson to a job.

Always check with the Alberta Advanced Education Apprenticeship and Industry Training office before hiring someone who requires qualifications. You can also call the Edmonton office at 780-427-4088.

They’ll have their certification on file (or not). The qualifications must be up-to-date. Expired certificates are not valid.

RenovationFind can help

RenovationFind certified companies have been through a third-party screening process. Our process checks for things like business licensing, insurance, and WCB coverage. If you have any questions about the documentation you might be missing or where you can obtain what you need, we are happy to help.

Contact us anytime.


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