Starting and Registering a Business in Ontario

If your are planning to start a business and register a business name, then you are on the right track. Running your own business and being your own boss changes everything. Please select one of the options to continue:

Learn about starting a business.

  • How to choose the right business structure.
  • How to choose the right business name.
  • Information required to register a business.
  • How to get registered for HST, Payroll, WSIB.
  • Cost of Registration.
  • What to expect after registration.

I’m ready to register my business.

I want to go directly to the order form. (You will be directed to our secure server for submission)

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Free Step-by-Step Guide!

Learn About Starting a Business in Ontario

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Step 1 - Choosing the right Business Structure

When you are starting a new business, your first decision you have to make is about the business structure that is the most appropriate for your business. See the choices below and click on each to get more details.

  • Sole Proprietorship

  • Partnership

    A partnership occurs when two or more persons are carrying on business.

    1. Ease of formation. A Partnership Agreement should be prepared.
    2. Low start-up costs.
    3. Limited outside regulation. The business name must be registered.

    1. Unlimited personal risk. Each of the partners is personally liable for the full amount of the debts of the partnership.
    2. Lack of continuity. The death or voluntary retirement of a partner dissolves the partnership. An individual interest in a partnership is transferable only with the consent of the remaining partners.
    3. More difficult to raise capital.
    4. Responsibility for your partner’s actions. Unless otherwise stipulated in a Partnership Agreement, each partner is authorized to act on behalf of the partnership and bind it legally.
    5. Very limited tax planning potential. The individual partners must each report their share of the partnership’s income (or loss) as their own, whether or not they have taken any of the profits out of the partnership. A partner is not taxed on draws but on his or her share of the partnership’s income.

  • Corporation

    A corporation is unique in that it is a distinct legal entity separate from that of the people who own its shares.

    1. Limited personal risk. The greatest advantage of incorporation is the limited liability that it confers on shareholders with respect to debts, obligations and liabilities of the corporation.
    2. Ability to raise capital. The ability to issue various classes of shares with preferences as to dividends, redemption or convertibility and to utilize bonds or debentures greatly enhances a corporations ability to obtain funds for expansion or development.
    3. Possible tax advantages. Small Canadian controlled private corporations are taxed at approximately half the regular rate on the first $500,000 of active business income in each year. A corporation also has additional tax planning and income splitting arrangements available.
    4. Continuous existence & Ownership is transferable. The death or withdrawal of a shareholder does not affect the existence of the corporation, which enjoys perpetual succession.

    1. More closely regulated.
    2. More expensive form to organize.
    3. More record keeping is necessary.



Step 2 - Check availability of the proposed business name

Choosing the right name for your new business is an important decision. You want a name that will draw potential customers, help clients identify your company and build your business image. A name that is easy to remember and provides information about the products or services you offer is always a good choice.

Choosing a business name
Choose a distinctive name to stand out from your competitors. Make sure the name is not misleading or confusing in its description of the goods or services you will provide.

Name search
Before making a final decision on your business name and ordering forms or stationery, you may want to know if someone else is already using the name. You can do a Preliminary name search that will allow you to check up to 3 names for $15 plus tax. A more accurate NUANS search would be advisable if you want to be absolutely sure that your name is not used by someone else. You can order a NUANS here. The cost is $39.95 plus tax per each name you search.

Once you have selected your business name you can perform a name search, or to simplify the process, you can do the name search as part of your application form.

  Order Preliminary Search   Order NUANS Name Search


Step 3 - Register the business name or Incorporate the business

Registration of the business is done by completing an application form that is then delivered directly to the appropriate government department.

Once your application for a Sole Proprietorship or a Partnership is approved you would receive a document called a Master Business Licence. If you choose to Incorporate your business, you will receive a document called Articles of Incorporation.

Both documents are legal documents that confirm registration of the business with Ontario government. Master Business License will be valid for 5 years. Articles of Incorporation are valid in perpetuity.


Expert Note - You can view a sample of each document below.
View a sample of Master Business Licence - PDF or Image
View a sample of Articles of Incorporation - PDF or Image


To register your business in Ontario, you will need to provide:

  • Name and address of the business.
  • Description of the business activity.
  • Your name.
  • Home address.
  • Telephone number.

If you have a partner, the same information would be required for your partner.


Expert Tip - Providing an Address
A post office box is not acceptable; you must have an actual street address to register a business in Ontario.
If you do not have a street address in Ontario, you may want to order our Virtual Address service. This service will help you to comply with government regulations for starting a business in Ontario.


Step 4 - Apply for HST, Payroll, Import/Export and WSIB Accounts


  • HST - Any business that generates more than $30,000 in annual taxable sales has to register for HST
  • Payroll - Any business that has employees must register for a Payroll account
  • Import/Export - If you are planning to trade with other countries, this account would be very helpful
  • WSIB - This account is mandatory if you are going to have employees.

You can request all or any of the above tax accounts during the registration process. Simply check the appropriate checkbox on the application form.


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Step 5 - Expected Costs

The cost of registering a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or a Trade Name for 5 years is the same.
It is $135.00 plus applicable taxes. You can also request registration of the necessary tax accounts like HST, Payroll and WSIB. When you go to the application form you would be able to create your own customized package.

Incorporation services are more expensive due to the higher government fees. Incorporation cost would range from $500 to $800. However registration never expires, so you pay only once for the entire life of the business.

Register Your Business Now

Congratulations! You are now ready to register your business. Simply select the appropriate link below to be redirected to the application form.

You will be directed to our secure server for submitting your application.


Benefits of Incorporating

  • Limited personal risk
  • Ability to raise capital
  • Tax advantages
  • Continuous existence
  • Transferable Ownership

Reasons to Register Right Away

  • The older your business, the more it will be perceived as reliable and trustworthy.
    This is a significant advantage from the marketing point of view.
  • The sooner you register, the more time you will have to properly organize your business without rushing through things.