Opening a business in Ontario is easy!

 So you have an idea for a business you want to start. You talked about it with some friends and family and are really getting excited about opening your very own business. The idea is solid. Your business plan could probably use improvement, but there is a plan there somewhere. Now how exactly does one open a business in Ontario?

Opening a business in Ontario is easy!

{Disclaimer: Opening a sole proprietorship in Ontario that requires no additional permits or licenses is easy. This is suitable for most businesses, however you can learn more about business types here, and you can learn more about business licenses here.}

 Now that we are past the disclaimer, let’s go through the steps to opening a small business in Ontario.

1)      Choose a business name. Choosing a good business name is something I feel people don’t realize they should put extra effort into. You can open a business under any name you can think of which isn’t taken. In fact, you can simply do business under your personal legal name. But when it comes to marketing your business, a name which reflects the brand identity you want to portray can actually make a big difference. For example, if I wanted a name which seemed established, I might choose a name like London Ontario Business Names. If I wanted something modern, I could choose something like BNS London, short for Business Naming Services London. If I wanted something silly, I could choose Derrick Knows Picking Business Names. I am immediately regretting that last one. In any event, take your time! If your business takes off, many people will know you by your business so you want a name you can be proud of.  

 2)      Do a business name search. If you plan on doing business under your legal name, you do not need to search or register a business name. If you plan on doing business under any name other than your legal name, your next step is to do a business name search. There are options for doing this, but the easiest way is through Service Ontario. The fee to search for a business name ranges from $8-$26 depending on the results of the search. You can probably do enough research through search engines and the print directories to determine if your name is taken, but the best and easiest way to find out if your name is taken is through Service Ontario’s website 

3)      Register your business name.  Below I plan to include the steps a typical business owner would need to make. Please consider your situation may be different and you will need to answer accordingly so you are presented with all options you need to be presented with. For example, if you plan on hiring employees, you need to answer yes because this will present you with WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) details.  

a.       Read and agree to the consent form.

b.      Choose Business Name Registration, and English.

c.       Select Sole Proprietorship.

d.      Choose No – Your business name is not exactly the same as your business name.

e.      Choose No – You have not registered your business within the last 5 years.

f.        Choose Yes – You are satisfied with the information provided, after you review it.

g.       Choose Yes – Your business will operate in Ontario. Choose no – You will not hire employees.

h.      Choose No – You will not hire employees. Choose No – You will not hire contractors.

i.        You are presented with options asking if you would like WSIB Coverage. You should check out WSIB to learn more, but basically, you are paying an amount to receive insurance coverage that provides you with benefits in the event you are injured while working. This is your choice. I will assume you selected No.

j.        Choose Yes – You are happy with the information provided.

k.       Type in the business name you want to do business under. Type in a very short statement of what your business does. (ie: Business naming service).

l.        Choose Yes – The address of the your place of business is in Ontario.

m.    Enter the address of your business. If your mailing address is the same, you can choose the option that says that your mailing address is the same, so you can save time filling out the address again.

n.      Enter your full name as requested.

o.      Enter your details including your name and address again.

p.      Follow the steps to make payment.

There may be some brief steps after this, but I will need to update the list once I am registering an actual business name.

One step that remains which I do recall has to do with registering a business number with Canada Revenue Agency. Check with a tax expert, but the last time I checked, as long as you haven’t earned $30,000 in the last 12 months of doing business, you are not required to collect or remit HST. There are a couple of exceptions to this, like taxi drivers. This means you would not need to register for a business number at this point in time, though you can always volunteer to collect/remit HST before it is required.

Once the steps are all complete, you will typically receive your master business license by email within 48 hours. If you register the business during business hours, you will receive your master business license within a few hours on most days.

I hope this information was helpful. If you have any tips or relevant information you want to share, please leave a comment.

About The Author


At LOWD Media, we specialize in supporting entrepreneurs. We understand inspired entrepreneurs and business minded individuals. We then use this understanding to learn about your business and help you create a look and feel for your business – your brand identity. Our business startup packages provide everything you need to begin marketing your business effectively and at an affordable price. Once you begin marketing and growing your business, we strive to support you and grow with you. Long term success for your business means long term success for our business. Let your brand be heard loud and clear with LOWD.

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