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Visitors by the campfire at their cottage accommodation.

Operating an Accommodation Business

In today’s competitive environment, it is important for Nova Scotia’s tourism industry to focus on providing quality experiences for our visitors. We are committed to supporting and promoting quality tourist accommodations.

Accommodations that are licensed under the Tourist Accommodations Act & Regulations and demonstrate quality by participating in one of three recognized quality accommodation programs are eligible to be listed on NovaScotia.com and in the Doers & Dreamers Travel Guide as well as participate in other partnership opportunities offered by Tourism Nova Scotia.

Click on the following links to learn more:

Inspection and Licensing

Information on the inspection and licensing process for fixed-roof and campground accommodations in Nova Scotia can be found here:

Please note: The tourist accommodation application deadline has passed for new accommodations to be included in the 2017 Doers and Dreamers Guide. However, your accommodation may be listed on NovaScotia.com at any time, after you have received a tourist accommodation licence and have met the requirements from one of the three recognized quality programs - Nova Scotia Approved, Canada Select, or CAA.

Remember, an inspection must take place and a licence approved prior to your business opening.

After determining you have met the requirements of the Tourist Accommodations Act & Regulations along with all other required permits, you may submit a completed licence application. For new construction, please ensure that you receive approvals from all appropriate authorities. The local Building Inspector and Deputy Fire Marshal/Municipal Fire Inspector may need to review your plans.

After a review of all received documents, an inspection from Tourism Nova Scotia will be conducted. Please contact Janette Wallace at (902) 424-1194 or janette.wallace@novascotia.ca to arrange a convenient time.

Operating a Fixed Roof Accommodation or Campground

Below are the detailed steps you will need to take in order to start operating your accommodation. Nova Scotia’s online business service can help you navigate this process: https://accesstobusiness.snsmr.gov.ns.ca/a2b_web/portal/industryBundleStartUp.jsf

  1. Development Permit | Zoning Approval: All fixed-roof and campground accommodation operators must provide a Development Permit and/or zoning approval from your local municipal office. An Occupancy Permit and other permits may be required. Please consult your local municipal development officer. Click here for a list of municipal contacts including building inspectors and development officers. Further information can also be found here.
  2. Barrier Free Accommodation: operators who are constructing a new property or making additions to an existing one, please refer to the Barrier Free Design section of the Building Code, as it relates to providing services to people who have physical challenges. For further information click here. If further clarification or details are desired, contact your building inspector.
  3. Water System: For new construction, septic/sewer and water supply systems must be approved by Nova Scotia Environment prior to their construction. Click here for a list of water testing labs.
  4. Fire Marshal: There are mandatory fire safety requirements necessary in order to operate a fixed-roof accommodation or campground. Click here to find the municipal fire/building inspector or deputy fire marshal in your region.
  5. Operators must register an accommodation business with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. We suggest that you review NovaScotia.com before making your name selection, to ensure that no one else is already using the name.
  6. Food Service Facility: If you plan to operate any type of food service, permits must be obtained. Click here for more information.
  7. Alcohol and Gaming division of Labour & Workforce Development: If you are planning on serving/providing alcohol in any capacity on your premises, please click here.
  8. Accommodation Licence Application form: The application form must be filled out and returned, along with the correct licence fee, at least one month before you commence operation in order to schedule the inspection of your property. Payment for renewals only may be submitted online by visiting Nova Scotia Business Registry Renewal (credit card payment only - MasterCard or Visa).
  9. Tourist Accommodations Act and Regulations: It is essential you read and follow the Tourist Accommodations Act and Regulations.

Other useful information:

  • Commercial Tax: Commercial tax is assessed on all accommodation businesses in Nova Scotia, with the exception of Bed and Breakfasts, which are taxed residential. You must check with your municipality for further information.
  • Harmonized Sales Tax: Contact the Canada Customs & Revenue Agency Business Window at 1-800-959-5525 for more information on charging HST.
  • Signage: Accommodation operators wishing to erect signs must have approval from the landowner, municipality/town/city or for information highway signage, please contact the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.
  • Landed Immigrant Status: Please note in order to conduct business in Nova Scotia, it is a requirement the business operator must be a Canadian Citizen or have Landed Immigrant status. Please refer to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and Nova Scotia Immigration for more information.
  • Workers' Compensation Board: Please see Workers' Compensation Board website for more information.
  • Occupational Health and Safety: Please see Occupational Health and Safety Act.
  • Human Resource Development: The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia Human Resource Council is the coordinating body for human resource development in the tourism industry. This Council provides training opportunities essential to maximizing the human resource potential in our industry and ensuring we have skilled professionals ready to meet our visitors' needs. Please visit tourismhrc.com for more information.
  • Guidelines for Literature Distribution: Please click here to learn more.
  • Human Rights Act: All accommodation operators and staff should become familiar with the Act and other related information from the Human Rights Commission.
Quality Programs

The quality programs listed below are currently recognized by Tourism Nova Scotia. To be included in Tourism Nova Scotia marketing and partnership initiatives participation in at least one program is mandatory.

To participate, please contact the individual programs below:

Please contact Janette Wallace at (902) 424-1194 or janette.wallace@novascotia.ca for assistance on the licensing process and/or for a copy of the Guide to Starting and Operating an Accommodation Business in Nova Scotia.