Registering a Business

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:

  • Service Ontario’s website at
  • 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:

Where can I network with other entrepreneurs?

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.