How to Obtain Your Trade License

  • Do you need a trade license?
  • When should you apply for a Trade License?
  • How should you apply for the License?
  • What happens after you submit the application form?
  • What is the Trade License fee applicable to your Trade?

Do you need a trade license?

If you are setting up a new business, you may be required to obtain a trade license under the regulations of the CMC. A list of trades requiring licenses is provided in Table I (Section IV) of this handbook.

If you already have a licensed business, you need to renew your license on an annual basis. However, if any of the following instances apply to your business, you may need to apply for a new license before expiry of your existing license

  1. You have changed the location or premises from which your business operates and it falls under Colombo city limits
  2. The ownership of the trade in question has changed e.g. you have just purchased a new business/ trade.
  3. You have changed the nature of your business e.g. you have converted your barbershop to an eating house/ restaurant

When should you apply for a Trade License?

In case of a newly set up business, you should apply for and obtain a trade license prior to starting operations. In case you are an existing license holder but are required to apply for a new license (as per the conditions listed above), you should apply for a new license at the earliest and definitely before expiry of you existing license.

If you are an existing business owner, the CMC will initiate the process of renewing your license by the September of the preceding year i.e. for renewing your license for 2009, the process would be initiated by September 2008. Typically, the process of renewal would be completed latest by March 31 of the year for which the license is valid e.g. in the illustration provided above, the license would be issued latest by March 31, 2009.

How should you apply for the License?

Your business is eligible to obtain a license only if it meets with requirements prescribed by the Fire Service Department (see requirements of Fire Service Department), the Public Health Department (see requirements of Public Health Department) and the City Planning Division (see requirements of City Planning Division) of the CMC. Accordingly, the first step when applying for a Trade License is to ensure that you have complied with all requirements with respect to your trade. Details of the requirements of each of the Departments/Division for each licensable trade are provided in the next section.

Once you have ensured compliance with the requirements of the CMC and are ready to apply for a license, the following steps may be followed

  1. Obtain an application form for a new license. These are available at the Revenue division of the Treasurer Department of the CMC with the Subject Clerk and the Chief Clerk
  2. Carefully fill in the application and provide all required information. Detailed instructions on how to fill the form are included with the form itself . The information required of you in the form includes
    • Personal information: Name, designation, National Identity Card number
    • Contact details: Telephone and mobile number, email address
    • Information on the trade: Name, nature (activities to be carried out), business registration number and date, previous year license number
    • Contact details of trade premises: Telephone number, address
    • Ownership of trade premises: Whether rented/ owned/ leased
    • Details of owner: Name, Telephone, Email, Mobile and Address of the owner of the premise
    • Details of premise building: Reference number and Date of Approved Building Plan and Certificate of Conformity, Deviations from approved building, Usage of premises/building, change of use certificate

    The Application form is provided in Annexure

    Ensure that all required documents have been attached with the application form (the Application form has been provided in Annexure I on Page 44). The documents to be attached include

  3. 1. Mandatory for all trades

    • Copy of Business Registration Certificate
    • Copy of National I.D Card / Passport Number in case of non resident
    • Copy of Certificate of Conformity
    • Copy of Water bill
    • Copy of payment receipt/ agreement with solid waste removal agency
    • Copy of Change of Use certificate: Mandatory in all cases where the existing usage of the building/ premises differs from the approved usage
    • Copy of Certificate for Change of Occupancy (if existing occupancy is different from the approved occupancy; from the Fire Services Department): Mandatory in all cases where existing occupancy differs from approved occupancy (e.g. change from residential occupancy to business/ office etc)
    • Copy of Machinery Permit & Renewal: Mandatory for all trades using machinery and/ or generating a noise level of 50 decibels or above (to check if your trade requires a Machinery permit, see Table 1 in Section IV of this handbook)
    • Copy of Noise Level Report: Mandatory for trades requiring a Machinery Permit and/ or generating a noise level of 50 decibels or above (to check if your trade requires a Noise level report, see Table 1 in Section IV of this handbook)
    • Copy of Registration with the Labour Department: Mandatory for factories/ other trades as defined by the Public Health Department (to check if your trade requires registration with the Labour Department, see Annexure II on Page 50)
    • Copy of the Environment Protection License from the Central Environmental Authority: Mandatory for trades defined under the National Environment Act No. 47 of 1980 (to check if your trade requires a Environment Protection License, see Annexure III on Page 52)
    • Copy of Police Report / Grama Sevaka Report / Justice of Peace Letter: Mandatory for lodging houses
    • For Trades dealing with Food/ Drinks (including manufacture of food/ eating houses, restaurants, bakeries/ Canteen / Snack Bar / Tea and Coffee Shop / Retail Shop/ hotel etc)
  4. 1. Copy of Water Test and Food Test report

    2. Copy of Sketch of kitchen

    3. Copy of Medical reports of employees

    4. Copy of Trained food handler certificate (at least 1 employee)

    5. Copy of Certificate of commendation/ mini HACCP

  5. Once the form is complete in all respects (including all required information and documents), it is ready to be submitted. Four copies of the form (one original and 3 copies) are to be submitted along with the attached documents (only 1 set of documents is required to be submitted). The submission may be made to the Subject clerk or the Chief Clerk of the Revenue Department at the office of the Municipal Treasurer

What happens after you submit the Application Form?

You can expect your license within 25 days from the date on which the application was submitted at the counter of the office of the Municipal Treasurer. The process followed for processing your application and subsequently issuing the license is as follows

  1. On receipt of your application, the office of the Municipal Treasurer will request a Revenue Inspector to visit the premises from which your trade is to be operated. The RI will verify the details provided on the application form about the owner of the trade and the nature of business
  2. If all details are found to be accurate, the RI will submit a recommendation report approving the distribution of the form to three other Departments: Public Health, Fire Services and City Planning
  3. Each of these three departments will also conduct inspections at the trade premises to verify that all requirements mandated by the respective departments are met. Details of the requirements for each Department are provided in the next Section of this handbook.
  4. If all requirements are met, each of the Departments will submit a recommendation to the Treasurer Department that the Trade license be issued
  5. The Treasurer Department, on receipt of a recommendation from all three departments will issue you a notice to pay the requisite Trade License fee and collect your license.
  6. On receipt of the notice, you may pay the fee at the counters of the shroffs in the Revenue Division at the office of the Municipal Treasurer and collect a receipt for the same
  7. This receipt should then be produced before the Accountant in the Treasurer Department and the license may be collected
  8. The License should be displayed at a prominent location on the Trade premises

The detailed requirements of each Department are provided in the next section of this handbook. It is recommended that you study these and ensure compliance with the same prior to initiating the application process. In case any instances of non-compliance are noticed at the point of submission of the application or during the Inspections by the Departments, your application may be rejected. This would lead to inconvenience for you and delay in starting of operations of your trade/ business.

What is the Trade License fee applicable to your Trade?

In applying for and obtaining a trade license, you would need to pay only a Trade License fee, which is levied once your license application has been approved by all Departments. The fee is payable at the designated counters in the Treasurer office only. In case your application is rejected, no License fee will be collected from you.

The fee for a trade license is determined based on the annual value of your property. The following table provides the fee structure applicable when obtaining a trade license.

S. No. Annual Value of Premises License Fee (Rs.)
1 Rs. 1 - Rs. 5,000 250
2 Rs. 5001 - Rs. 10,000 500
3 Rs. 10,001 - Rs. 15,000 750
4 Rs. 15,001 - Rs. 20,000 1000
5 Rs. 20,001 - Rs. 30,000 2000
6 Rs. 30,001 - Rs. 40,000 3000
7 Rs. 40,001 - Rs. 50,000 4000
8 Rs. 50,001 and above 5000