Patio and Outdoor Dining Area Permits - COVID-19

The City of Cambridge has implemented a streamlined process and is waiving permit fees to make it faster and easier for restaurant owners to expand or create new patios and outdoor dining areas. To apply, see the section below on Sidewalk patio permits.  

Restaurant owners will be expected to follow public health directives in terms of capacity numbers and physical distancing guidelines and AGCO regulations: AGCO Information Bulletin.

Any restaurant owners with questions about the application process can call Service Cambridge at (519) 623-1340.   

Looking to start or grow your business?

The City of Cambridge (in partnership with the Region of Waterloo, Service Ontario, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) offers a one-stop online service called BizPaL to help local businesses get started or expand by providing access to information on business permits and license requirements from all three levels of government. BizPaL makes it faster and easier for you to get started. It's free to use and available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Business licensing

Most businesses in Cambridge must be licensed by the City of Cambridge to operate legally. The City requires business licences to help ensure the safety of our citizens and your customers. The City issues licences for stationary businesses and some mobile businesses, such as:

  • Barber shops
  • Beauty salons
  • Motor vehicle service facilities
  • Food shops
  • Public halls
  • Refreshment vehicles

When you apply for a business licence, you must first meet all building, zoning and fire department regulations. The Waterloo Regional Health Unit must also approve some specialized business, such as:

  • Hair salons
  • Aestheticians
  • Businesses where food products are prepared or sold
  • Tattoo parlours
  • Refreshment canteen, ice cream and food truck vehicles
How to apply

To apply for a business licence you need the following:

  • Business Licence Application completed by either an individual owner, a partner or the president or signing officer of the corporation
  • A criminal record check, if required
  • Completed inspections of your location by Police, Fire, Building Services and/or Public Health, if required
  • Licensing fee

Business licensing by-laws help enforcement officers protect the community against infractions related to:

  • Public health and safety
  • Nuisance control
  • Consumer protection

Visit our by-law page to view a list of our business-related by-laws.

Licensing fees

Licensing fees offset the cost of the related enforcement and inspection programs. The cost of administering and enforcing licensing regulations should be covered by the regulated trades and not the public.

Fees vary by type of business licence.


The City issues business licence renewal letters in early November. Once you receive this letter, please send a cheque payable to the City of Cambridge, along with the enclosed application (with health sign off if required), and a copy of your business insurance showing a minimum of 2 million in general liability to:

City of Cambridge

Business Licensing Department

50 Dickson Street, Second Floor
PO Box 669
Cambridge, ON N1R 5W8

We also accept renewals in person at the City Clerk's office located on the second floor of City Hall. The City Clerk's office accepts payments made by cash, cheque, visa, mastercard or debit card.

Need help?
If you have any questions or need help, contact our Licensing Officer (519)740-4680, ext. 4581 before submitting your business licence application or starting your business. We'd be happy to help you with the application process.

Common business permits and licences

Below you will find information about some of the most common business-related permits and licences issued by the City of Cambridge.

Busker licence
Street performers must apply for Busker Licence. View the Busker By-law to learn about busking rules and regulations in the city of Cambridge.
Food truck licence

According to the Food Truck By-law, you need to apply for a Food Truck Licence to operate a food truck in the city of Cambridge.

Your business will also need to meet the Region of Waterloo Public Health Special Events Food Vendor Requirements.

Sidewalk Patio Permits

Restaurants need to apply for a permit allowing them to do business on outdoor sidewalk terraces. View the following documents for more information about sidewalk terrace permits:

Sidewalk Patio Guidelines

Application Forms

Adult entertainment parlour licence

Complete the Adult Entertainment Parlour Licence application to apply for a business licence in order to operate any adult entertainment business in Cambridge. The Adult Entertainment Establishments By-law regulates these licences.

There is also a special Adult Entertainment Parlour Licence Renewal Form for these types of licences.

Transient and charitable event licence

To run a charity BBQ event (one-day fundraising event), you must apply for a Transient and Charitable Event Licence. Application fees will be charged at the time of application submission.

Your charity BBQ will also need to meet the Region of Waterloo Public Health Special Events Food Vendor Requirements.

Businesses running an event also need to review the City of Cambridge Alcohol Risk Management Policy.

Food premises and renewal
Complete the Renewal Licence application if you are renewing your business licence.
Building permit
You may need to apply for different types of building permits, depending on your project and the work you need completed.
Sign permit

To apply for a Sign Permit you can either apply in person at City Hall or apply online

Please submit the following information:

  • Sign Permit application form (complete both pages)
  • Two copies of your Site Plan (plot plan)
  • Two copies of your working drawings
  • Sign installation commitment form (if required)
    • the requirement of design and review by a professional engineer, to demonstrate compliance with of Div. B., will be required for:
      • Individual projecting signs with a weight exceeding 25 kg
      • A ground sign that exceeds 1.8 m in height,
      • A projecting sign attached in amy manner to a parapet wall, 
      • A roof sign that has any face that is more than 10 square meters
  • Sign permit fees in permit fee schedule

The turn around time to issue a sign permit or provide comment as to why it could not be issued is 10 working days.