Starting a Business in Canada

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Aug 10, 2011 - 2 minute read - legal

How To Register A Business In Ontario

This post is about registering a business name in Ontario, which is different from incorporating a company. If you are starting a business as a sole proprietorship, partnership or if you want to register a “doing business as” name for an existing corporation this post will give you an overview of the process. To open a business bank account, you must have your business’s name registered. This is necessary because the bank needs to know that you are authorized to deposit cheques made out to the business’s name. There can be substantial fines for failing to register your business so make sure this forms part of your business startup process.

The first step is to conduct a business name search. The search will tell you if another Ontario business is using the name you’ve picked out. It’s important to note that the Business Names Act does not protect the exclusivity of a registered name. If you are concerned about protecting your business’s name, you might want to consider registering a trademark. The fees for conducting a name search through the Government’s website are in the table below.

Business Name Registration

The next step is to register your business. While the business name search feature of the Government’s website is only available Monday to Friday, 8:30 am - 6:00 pm, the business registration service is in operation 24 hours a day.

Master Business License

A Master Business License (MBL) is issued for completed business registrations except those pertaining to limited partnerships. These limited partnerships get a copy of the application and a validation instead of the MBL. A MBL is in effect for five years. It must be renewed prior to the expiry date. The Government will not send you a reminder so this is something you’ll have to keep track of on your own.

Business Identification Number

The Companies and Personal Property Security Branch of the Ontario Government will issue a Business Identification Number (BIN) for each registered business. This is not the same as a federal Business Number.


There are three ways to register your business name:

  1. Online which will cost $60
  2. By mail which will cost $80
  3. Through an authorized service provider, which will cost $60 plus any additional fees the provider may add for using their services.

This process may seem complicated but everything is relatively straightforward once you get started. With the online service that is available, you can have your business registered in record time.