REALWorld Law


Licences and permits

What official permissions, licences or consents are required by a building or engineering contractor before it can start work?



Professional and other licensing and permit requirements vary widely in each province and territory in Canada. Moreover:

  • Additional licenses and permits are often required by provincial and municipal jurisdictions, and
  • A governmental agency in charge of a project could require additional qualifications in a request for proposal

This is a highly detailed and regulated area of law that not only depends on the jurisdiction, but on the nature of the project being undertaken and the type of work being performed.

As only a very broad and generic overview, examples of licenses and permits that an engineer or contractor may be required to obtain to carry out construction work include:

Engineering and Architect Licensing

The practice of engineering and architecture is governed mainly by statute and common law. The most relevant common law principles involving engineers and architects are the laws of tort and contracts. Certain provinces also have regulations in addition to the statutory framework that deals with these professions. Lastly, there are also certain federal statutes that affect architecture and engineering practices.

General Contractor Licensing

Not all provinces require general contractors to obtain a license. Hiring a licensed contractor may provide benefits, such as mandatory warranty insurance.

Trade Contractors

Many provinces require trade contractors to have licenses. However, certain provinces only require trade contractors to hold a certification, such as a Certification of Qualification. Most provinces, territories and municipalities also require permits for construction, such as building permits or plumbing permits.