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Business Registration in Ontario

Part 2: Business Name Registration Continued

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Now that you've selected your business name and conducted a name search (if necessary), you're ready to go through the actual business registration procedure to register your sole proprietorship or partnership. Continuing with the business registration steps, then:

Step 3. Register your business name.

You will need the name and address of the business, a description of the business activity that will be performed, and your name and home address. (You must have an address where legal papers can be served; a post office box is not acceptable.) If you're registering the name of a partnership with ten or fewer partners, you must include the names and home addresses of all the partners.

In Ontario, registering the name of your business is easy because you have so many different access options. For instance, you can register your business name through the public office of the Companies Branch in person or by mail. (Forms are available from the branch or at local Land Registry Offices across the province.) The fee for registering a business name by mail or in person at the Companies Branch is $80. If you register in person, you'll receive your Master Business License (proof of business name registration) immediately; if you register by mail, you'll receive it in 6 to 8 weeks.

You can also register your business name through any of the Service Providers under contract with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. For information about Service Providers visit the ServiceOntario website.

Or do your business registration online through ServiceOntario.

Whether you register your business name at a ServiceOntario workstation or via the website, the fee is the same; $60. If you register your business name at the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch in person or by mail the business registration fee is $80.

There is also a difference in the time it takes to complete the procedure and get your Master Business License. If you register through ServiceOntario, you may receive your Master Business License via email in two days; if you complete your business registration at the Branch or at a dedicated workstation you'll get your Master Business License on the spot. On the other hand, if you mail in your business registration, you'll receive your Master Business License in the mail in six to eight weeks.

Another advantage to doing your business registration through the ServiceOntario website (or through their self-help workstations located throughout the province) is that you can also complete other necessary business forms electronically while you're at it, such as the Retail Sales Tax Vendor Permit, Employer Health Tax, and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

You may also register your business name through the Canada Revenue Agency's Business Registration Online (BRO) service. The advantage to doing this is that you can also register for other CRA accounts you may need, such as GST/HST registration or Payroll Deductions.

Step 4. Register for whatever other licenses, registrations, or certifications you require to legally operate your business.

You may also need a business license, depending on the type of business you're running. And you have to run your business according to provincial and federal laws, which means you may need to register for Workers' Compensation Insurance, or collect GST/HST. My Steps to Starting a Business is a good starting point for figuring out which regulations will apply to you. Then let the government's BizPal service show you exactly what licenses and permits you need.

Step 5. Upgrade/renew your business name registration as required.

A business name registration must be renewed every five years. The Companies Branch doesn't send out reminder notices; re-registering is your responsibility. If your business name or business ownership changes at any time, you must re-register your business name (and pay the registration fee once again).

The next page of this article explains the business registration procedure for corporations in Ontario.

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