The first step of starting any business in Ontario is to register it. This lets you legally operate under a designated name.
It sounds simple from the outset. However, first-time business owners may find the whole process, especially since you have to navigate some legal concerns.
But there’s no need to worry. You can get familiar with the process of business registration in Ontario by checking out a variety of resources. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
1. Understanding Business Name Registration
When applying for business registration in Ontario, you must first understand how it works at the moment.
In October 2021, the Ontario administration took steps to modernize and streamline the whole process. One of the results of this modernization effort is changing the license’s official name. Previously, it was called the Master Business License or MBL. Now, they refer to it as Business Name Registration or BNR.
A BNR gives an individual the authority to start and run a business under a particular name. This provides the government and the average consumer with the main identifier for what an enterprise is, what it aims to offer, and how it plans to provide it.
When you get a BNR, you can take advantage of the following:
- A valid registration period, which is five years
- Ability to operate under a business name in Ontario
- Ability to open a bank account and tax accounts and get cheques
- Ability to promote the business legally and publicly on business cards, TV commercials, and billboards
However, a BNR doesn’t cover the following:
- Protecting your business name against other names in Ontario
- Automatic registration renewal
- Availment of corporate tax benefits
- Ability to make flexible registration changes
With that said, you can see the benefits of getting your enterprise officially named and registered. It’s why going through a business registration in Ontario is so important if you want to start one in the province.
2. Determining Your Business Type
Before applying for a BNR in Ontario, you must first determine your business type.
The following are the usual business classifications for setting up a BNR:
- Sole proprietorship: This is meant for single business owners. You must have an Ontario address and be above 18 years old. The registration period for this business type is five years, and it’s renewable.
- General partnership: This refers to enterprises owned by two or more individuals. To register, you must secure an official partnership agreement. The registration is also good for five years and can be renewed after expiration.
- Trade name: This is meant for any business owned by a corporation registered in Ontario. It’s also referred to as a DBA (short for ‘doing business as’). This happens when a company claims a separate business to extend its scope of service, use assets from a separate or distant market, or contain the risk of losses. The registration is also renewable.
Think carefully about which one you choose for your BNR. You should be able to accurately represent your business’s status to continue enjoying the benefits of official registration.
3. Registering Your Business
Now that you know what business type you’re registering for, it’s time to tackle the actual process.
To get started, you need to provide the following details:
- Name of your business
- Your business address
- Principal place of business
- Owner or partners’ names and their addresses
- The business activity involved or the one that makes most of your revenue
- Name of the person you authorize to register if someone else has to deal with the registration process on your behalf
Once these details are ready, you can choose how to proceed with the application. Business registration in Ontario can happen in the following ways:
- In-person: If you live in Ontario, you can process your application and submit it directly to the local board. The license will be immediately delivered to your address when the application is complete.
- Online: If you can’t apply in person, you can do it online. This is relatively quick and straightforward. Just fill in an application form through Ontario’s service platform or use a third-party service provider for business registration.
- By mail: If you have no internet connection, you can also tackle the registration process in another traditional way. Complete the application form and mail it with the payment. However, applying this way may take a long time.
Obviously, you have to consider the fees.
If you need to search for business names that have been registered and are similar to yours, you may have to pay CAD$8 to CAD$26. If you register your business online, prepare to pay CAD$60 and CAD$80 by mail or in-person registration through the ServiceOntario portal. You can also some handling fees.
Ready To Register?
After going through this breakdown, you can see that business registration in Ontario isn’t as complicated as it may seem. If you have a business idea you believe will make the rounds in your community, why not register now? Feel free to ask more questions about the options you have when starting an enterprise today.
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