Registering a business in Ontario

September 7, 2020


In order to provide peace of mind, bidmii requires professionals to obtain their business license before engaging on the platform.  With Guelph, Ontario being the launch market, we’ve put together some valuable information and links that will help guide you through the process of registering a business in the province of Ontario.

This article covers Registering a business name, Obtaining a Master Business License, how to register with the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board and an overview of business insurance.

Register a business name or a limited partnership

Before you register make sure you have two important things: A credit card (either a Visa, Visa Debit, Mastercard or Debit Mastercard) and a valid email address. These credit cards are the only way to pay to search existing registrations or register a business name online.

When you register a new business name, you can search Service Ontario’s records of existing registrations to see if the name of your business is already being used by another business and where that business is located. You can also use the Enhanced Business Name Search feature to check if someone is already using your business name.

The cost included for this process is as follows:

  • $8-$26 depending on the types of records you want to include in your search
  • $60 to register
  • $60 to renew

Registration Process

You can search and register by mail or in person for the following types of businesses. Click on the links for the forms. Complete the appropriate form and deliver it with the $80 fee.

  • Form 2 for corporations (you can also register online)
  • Form 5 for registering a business name for a partnership/limited partnership (please see below for more about limited partnerships)
  • Form 6 for limited liability partnership, extra-provincial limited liability partnership and extra-provincial limited liability company

For registration by mail, you can pay by cheque or money order made out to the Ministry of Finance to:  

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services  

Central Production and Verification Services Branch  

393 University Avenue, Suite 200  

Toronto, ON M5G 2M2

For in-person registration the cost is $80 for a new registration. You can pay by cash, cheque, credit card or money order made out to the Ministry of Finance at:  

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services  

Central Production and Verification Services Branch  

375 University Avenue, 2nd floor  

Toronto, ON M5G 2M2

Master Business License  

The Master Business License is also known as the MBL, Business Registration, Sole Prop, GP, Style Registration and DBA.  

This program is offered in Ontario and can be used to register small business with 3 options:

  1. Sole Proprietorship (1 Person)
  2. General Partnership (2 or more individuals)
  3. Trade name (doing business as name under an existing corporation)

The Master Business License offers an excellent prospect for those in Ontario to register a business at a minimal fee but along with the low cost of registering, comes the limited availability of what this set up offers to those who register.

As soon as you complete registering your business (whichever it is from the 3 business types listed above), you will receive a document for the registration. The document of registration will include name of your business, address, name of business owner, his address and business activity.

The registration will provide you with a Business Identification Number (a 9 digit number specifically dedicated to your registration with the Province of Ontario) and the date of the expiry (generally 5 years). It is important to make note of this date as when it comes around, you will be required and are responsible to either renew the registration or allow it to expire.

The Master Business License provides the following:

  • Registration is valid for a 5-year period
  • The ability to operate a business name within Ontario
  • To open a Bank account, tax accounts, obtain cheques, business cards
  • Availability to access wholesale or discounted pricing from supplier
  • Advertise and promote the business name  

The Master Business License does not provide the following:

  • Name protection against other business names in Ontario
  • Liability protection for the individual owner
  • Corporate tax benefits
  • Continual registration
  • Flexibility to make changes to the registration

Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB)

Businesses in Ontario, that have employees whether it be sub-contractors or family members, must register with WISB within 10 calendar days of hiring their first employee. Registering with the WSIB provides workplace insurance coverage for your business and employees and gives you access to experts in health and safety for your business sector.

To register your business with the WSIB, you will need the following information and you can register online:

1.      Company information

  • legal name of company and trade name(s)
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Business Number
  • mailing, email, and website addresses
  • phone and fax numbers
  • address, phone, and fax number of each operating location
  • account number of any prior registered accounts with WSIB
  • name, location, and phone number for a contact person who deals with payroll records (if different from your primary location)
  • bank name
  • description of your business activity (i.e. what is the nature of your business)
  • description of the product you produce, the goods you sell or the services you provide (this information is used to determine your rate group and your premium rate)
  • an indication of your predominant business activity, if you have more than one
  • payroll Information for any other business activities you maintain
  • names and addresses of any associated employers/contractors, plus their WSIB account numbers, if possible

2.      Owner/executive details

  • names, addresses, birthdates and official titles of directors or owners of the company (and proof of earnings if you will be requesting optional insurance).

3.      Information about your employees

  • date the first employee was hired
  • number of employees
  • Payroll information

Once the registration is completed, WSIB will email you the details and you will receive a welcome package with your account information.

Business insurance

You will also want to consider purchasing business insurance.  There are several different policy types to consider and it’s up to you to determine coverage that best suits your businesses needs. Examples of the types of business insurance available are:

Commercial property insurance - protects against damage to or less of your business premises, property or inventory.

Public liability insurance - protects against third party liability claims such as if a person is injured at your business.

Errors and omissions insurance - protects against claims as a result of a mistake you have made

Buy-sell agreement - simplifies the process to allow a business partner to use a life insurance death benefit to buy out a partner’s interests in case of another partner’s death.

Key person life insurance - life insurance for important employees who are key to the businesses success.

The Government of Canada’s financial consumer agency has a helpful section covering the insurance basics that goes into greater depth.