A business name registration is valid for five years, after which time it must be renewed. It is your responsibility to keep information on the registration up to date and you are responsible for renewing your registration before the end of five years. A change to a business name or business type (e.g. general partnership to a sole proprietorship) is considered a new registration and you are required to pay the registration fee. Upon registration you will receive a Master Business Licence commonly referred to as the MBL. The MBL can be used as proof of business name registration at financial institutions and to facilitate other business-related transactions with the Ontario government. Business names are registered with the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch (CPPSB) of the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) and are placed on the Public Record maintained by CPPSB for public disclosure. Anyone may search business name information contained on the Public Record for a fee to find the owners or principals behind a business name.
Who must register under the Business Names Act?
The Ontario Business Names Act administered by the Companies and Personal Property Security Branch applies to:
sole proprietorships (one owner) carrying on business under a name other than the individual’s full name;
partnerships carrying on business under a firm name other than the full names of the partners;
corporations carrying on business under a name other than their corporate name;
an existing general partnership or limited partnership registering a business name different from the registered firm name;
limited liability partnerships;
extra-provincial limited liability partnerships; and
extra-provincial limited liability companies.
Business names can be searched and registered through ServiceOntario via the following channels:
Self-help workstations located at ServiceOntario service locations across the province
Mail: ServiceOntario, P.O. Box 1028 STN B, Toronto ON M5T 3H3
Please note that you must enter the business information yourself when using BRO, the ServiceOntario website and self-help workstations. For more information about workstation service locations, fees and processing times or to obtain ServiceOntario applications, please visit the ServiceOntario website or call:
The first planning document that you will create as a potential business owner is a business plan. If your vision statement is a compass, then your business plan is a road map. It should be capable of guiding you, the entrepreneur, through a maze of business decisions and alternatives while successfully avoiding detours and dead ends. A business plan is a carefully thought out document that outlines the nature of the business, your objectives as an entrepreneur, and the actions that you will take in order to reach those objectives. A business plan is really a series of small, related plans that cover the four major business functions. When you are finished, your business plan will contain:
a marketing plan
a human resources plan
an operations plan
a financial plan
Additional help can found by reading this document:
If you are already registerd for GST, no further registration is required. Your first HST return is due at the same time that your old GST return would have been due. HST will save businesses over $500 million a year in administrative and compliance costs alone.
Harmonized Sales Tax
The 13% HST came into effect on July 1, 2010 in Ontario. What is HST?
Is it mandatory to register for a HST number?
If your taxable sales are more than $30,000 and they are not exempt from HST, you must register. If your sales are less than $30,000, you have the option of registering. Registering is generally a good idea since you can then claim input tax credits in respect of your expenses.
Are there grants available for starting a business?
While there has been a great reduction in the number of grants available to general business start-up over the past several years, there are some monies available. Most of the existing programs are targeted strictly to specific industries, geographical areas or particular groups of entrepreneurs (minority groups, youth, employment insurance recipients, etc.) To search the database of government programs available in Ontario, click here.
Where can I get a loan for my business?
In the early stages, the most important financial sources will probably be you, friends, relatives and financial institutions. The most common source of financing for small businesses is the chartered bank. Banks can provide a number of financing options, such as short-term loans, long-term mortgage loans and, in some cases, loans against inventory or accounts receivable. Other important sources of financing in this category include trust companies and credit unions. For very small firms and home-based businesses, credit cards and lines of credit often provide a ready means of obtaining small-scale debt capital. While convenient, they bear relatively high rates of interest and limit the amount of capital available. Each situation is different, and it is critical that a good business plan be developed to determine the overall needs of the business.
The Community Futures Development Corporation can also provide assistance in a number of ways. Click to learn more about what they offer, please visit their website.
Networking is a cost-effective way to gather knowledge, promote your business, and provide you with resources and contacts in your community. Becoming involved with community groups and organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and appropriate associations can prove extremely useful in your business venture. The following list of organizations offers business events, working groups and networking opportunities.