Electrical Operating Permits

Apply for an operating permit

Owners of industrial, commercial, residential, and institutional facilities require an operating permit to operate and maintain regulated electrical equipment and systems under the Safety Standards Act.

An operating permit requires collaboration between the owner, a designated Field Safety Representative (FSR), and Technical Safety BC.

Examples of facilities that likely require an electrical operating permit

  • Educational facilities such as universities, colleges, schools
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers
  • Multi-occupancy buildings such as hotels, office towers, condominiums and apartment buildings, shopping malls, warehouses
  • Manufacturing and processing facilities such as refineries, metal fabrication, sawmills, pulp and paper, mines, recycling plants
  • R&D facilities such as labs, pharma companies, clean energy 
  • Recreational facilities such as stadiums, ice rinks, swimming pools, bowling alleys
  • Wind farms, greenhouses, fish farms
  • Municipal sites
  • Buildings with elevators
  • Facilities that operate equipment in hazardous environments

An electrical operating permit is required if you own, operate or maintain electrical equipment that that falls into any or all of the categories below.

A. The electrical equipment or system is:

  • an operation or design that requires regular or ongoing maintenance; or
  • operated within the class or zone designations for hazardous locations:
    • Zone 0, 1, 2 – Explosive Gas
    • Zone 20,21,22 – Explosive Dust
  • operated or maintained for an emergency service; or
  • part of a fire alarm system.

B. It is a Facility where:

  • Electrical supply is greater than 250 kVA; or
  • Electrical supply to privately owned equipment (non-utility), except for high voltage neon signs, is greater than 750 volts.

C. It is a Facility where:

  • The rated service capacity of electrical equipment (e.g., main service switch, main transforming equipment, electrical panel, or transformer) is capable of handling an electrical supply of over 250 kVA.

Exceptions:

  • high-voltage installations with a Utility take-over agreement do not require an operating permit
  • high voltage neon signs

Note: Electrical equipment is defined under the BC Electrical Code any apparatus, appliance, device, instrument, fitting, fixture, luminaire, machinery, material, or thing used in or for, or capable of being used in or for, the generation, transformation, transmission, distribution, supply, or utilization of electric power or energy, and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes any assemblage or combination of materials or things that is used, or is capable of being used or adapted, to serve or perform any particular purpose or function when connected to an electrical installation, notwithstanding that any of such materials or things may be mechanical, metallic, or non-electric in origin.

Technical Safety BC issues electrical operating permits and completes inspections for most areas of British Columbia, but there are several municipal governments in BC who have jurisdiction over electrical permits and inspections.

To see what jurisdiction you fall under, click here.

The owner of the electrical equipment, or their representatives such as the lessee of the building, are responsible for obtaining and renewing Operating Permits. A person/party authorized by the owner to act as their agent (i.e. a property management company) can also be responsible for obtaining and renewing Operating Permits. Operating Permits are renewed on an annual basis.

Temporary entertainment operating permits must be obtained by either the owner of the electrical equipment, or by a licensed electrical contractor.

The following are the responsibilities of an owner of a facility required to possess an electrical operating permit:

  • Keep the operating permit current.
  • Ensure compliance with terms / conditions named on the permit.
  • Ensure that all electrical work is performed by certified individuals and/or licensed contractors.
  • Ensure that the FSR named on a permit is current and up-to-date.
  • Notify Technical Safety BC if there is a change in the named FSR.
  • Maintain a log of all completed electrical work.

Benefits

Operating permits enable owners/operators of the facilities with permitted electrical systems to install new equipment, relocate equipment, or make minor alterations such as adding lighting, wiring or plugs, without having to take out multiple electrical installation permits.

In both cases, maintenance work is not allowed to result in a change in the main service capacity above what is outlined in the Directive.

With an electrical operating permit, facilities with a main service rating of 250 kVA or less can make alterations that do not result in an increase of greater than 12.5 kVA in additional loads.

Facilities with a main service rating of 250 kVA or greater can make minor alterations that does not result in an increase of greater than 36 kVA in additional loads.

FSR Responsibilities

An electrical FSR is named on every electrical operating permit. A FSR is a professionally qualified individual who is certified by Technical Safety BC and has the following role:

  • The FSR is responsible for providing the owner with technical guidance related to electrical equipment and safety.
  • They validate completed electrical work and provide assurance that the electrical equipment has been safely installed and is being properly maintained.
  • A Class A FSR is required to be named on operating permits for any high voltage system, including private primary lines.
  • By signing the permit, the FSR has the responsibility to regularly assess, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment with the owner.

Note: It’s NOT the responsibility of a FSR to obtain an operating permit.

Yes. FSR’s can be changed at any time. However, if you have an operating permit and your field safety representative (FSR) has changed, you must submit a notice of FSR Change immediately.

Application process

  1. To apply for an electrical operating permit:
  1. Identify a Field Safety Representative (FSR) that can be named on the application.

    Note: For facilities with both high voltage and low voltage equipment, an owner can:
  • name a Class A FSR on the operating permit; or
  • take out separate operating permits for the high voltage and low voltage equipment and name an FSR with an appropriate certificate class for each class of equipment.
  1. Ensure that the class of work is one of the following.
  • Municipal / School District – Municipalities and School Districts
  • Energy Utility – Clients responsible for the generation and supply of electrical energy, wind farm.
  • Private Distribution Systems - Private clients with their own overhead or underground service lines supplying a single cabin or RV hook-up (e.g. green house or a secondary electricity supply to your property).
  • General – All other clients.
  1. Apply for a permit:
  1. Refer to the electrical fee schedule for information on fees.

Note: Fees are not refundable.

  1. If all documents and details are provided, Technical Safety BC will process the application in 5-business days.

Note: An invoice will be mailed once the application has been processed.

A temporary electrical operating permit is required for sites using electrical equipment for temporary use, and where the supply is greater than 5 kVA. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • On-location movie/TV production, musical & entertainment events, and amusement parks; or
  • Commercial/Industrial construction sites; or
  • Residential home construction sites.

Temporary electrical operating permits must be obtained by the owner of the electrical equipment, a licensed electrical contractor, or a residential homeowner.

  1. Apply using the appropriate form:
  1. Refer to electrical fee schedule for information on fees. Note that fees are non-refundable.

Assistance

Email: contact@technicalsafetybc.ca with all your questions. Alternately, you can contact us by phone 1 866 566 7233 or in person at any of our BC offices.

Resources

Information Bulletin: Electrical operating permits

Information Bulletin: Electrical Operating Permit Requirements

Directive: Electrical operating permit requirements

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