Ontario Business Registry: Everything You Need To Know

Lakshya Singh Lakshya Singh
Jun 13, 2021 4 min read
Ontario Business Registry: Everything You Need To Know

Starting a business these days has become easier, thanks to technology. Once you’re done with a business plan, as an entrepreneur, you can proceed in creating a unique business name.

To formally start your journey as a legitimate business owner, you have to register the business as soon as possible and within the limits provided by the local laws. In most countries and states, including in Ontario, Canada, business registration is quite straightforward.

Having your business name registered is important to obtain a unique name that no other business can hopefully take. Luckily, it’s easy to check if the business name you’re planning to use is no longer available—thanks to Ontario’s business registry database.

Here’s everything you have to know about this new one-stop online facility for registering a business in Ontario.

What Is The Ontario Business Registry?

At the height of the pandemic, in July 2020, the Ontario government announced that they’re introducing the Ontario Business Registry — an online service for organizations and entities in the said province. The new facility aims to provide streamlined, faster, and convenient digital services to all entities — non-profit organizations, small businesses, and large corporations, —in Ontario.

According to Canadastartups.org, there are about 389,116 registered small businesses in this province, inhabited by about 14.2 million people.

Even with the restrictions and limited office hours, the Ontario government is still capable of providing service through this online registration that’s available all day and all night. Because everything is done digitally, the facility allows business entities to perform a wide range of activities without worrying about their health and safety.

What’s Included In The Ontario Business Registry?

All businesses and entities that are registered and authorized to operate in Ontario should have their online profile included in Ontario Business Registry.

The legal business instruments covering these entities include the following:

  • Business Corporations Act
  • Business Names Act
  • Corporations Act
  • Corporations Information Act
  • Extra-Provincial Corporations Act
  • Limited Partnerships Act.

Business organizations can register their name, update any type of business information, and file notices and other documents that are covered by any business law. The wide range of activities can help new entrepreneurs focus on avoiding common mistakes.

Under the Business Names Act, the following businesses should have their ventures registered:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Limited liability partnerships
  • Corporations
  • General or limited partnerships
  • Extra-provincial limited liability partnerships
  • Extra-provincial limited liability companies

In Ontario, registering your business is a requirement within two months after opening the venture. If a sole proprietorship uses its owner's name, they’re exempted from the rule. However, if any additional word, for instance adding the name ‘consultants’ or ‘specialists’ to the owner’s full name, requires a business to register before the government.

How Do You Sign Up For An Account In The Ontario Business Registry?

Existing businesses must send a working email address to the office of the Central Production and Verification Services Branch under the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS), which supervises this online facility. Entities can also do online email submissions.

The email address sent by the business organization will be used by the government agency to provide information on how to access their business profile. Entities are expected to supply their Business Identification Number (BIN) or Ontario Corporation Number (OCN) which are provided to registered businesses alongside the email address.

Which Services Are Available In The Facility?  

The Ontario Business Registry is an all-in-one digital facility that can handle a variety of tasks. According to the Ontario government website, businesses can perform the following activities online:

  • Registering, searching for, and renewing a business name.
  • Applying, renewing, and restoring individual licenses for a security guard and private investigator. A security agency can also do the same for its business and its employees.
  • Filing small claim forms for courts, paying for fees, and applying for default judgements.
  • Finding resources to complete an accessibility compliance report for businesses and non-profits.
  • Getting access to the different types of environmental permissions that apply to a specific business and finding out how to apply for each permission type.
  • For registered funeral companies, crematoriums, or transfer service businesses; requesting a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate or Out of Province Body Shipment Certificate.
  • Obtaining useful information, tips, and resources on common business scams, financial, and phishing activities. Entities can also report them and get guides on how to act if a business has fallen victim to such malicious attacks.
  • Find out information about the properties forfeited to the Ontario government following the dissolution of a corporation.
  • Accessing a business information guide containing common terms used for businesses and corporations. This can be a beneficial resource to new businesses.
  • Searching for, filling up, and submitting all of the documents and forms needed to create, dissolve, and change information of a cooperative corporation.

What Else Can Be Done Through The Ontario Business Registry?

Entities that have registered their accounts with the Ontario Business Registry will receive the latest updates about new government regulations.  

For instance, the Ontario government has announced that there’ll be changes in the annual return process for entities covered by the Corporations Information Act. Those who have their accounts with this online facility have received information about these changes and advice on how to move forward.

What If You Didn’t Register Your Business?

The Ontario Business Names Act imposes steep fines for individuals and corporations that either fail to register their business or for providing false information. Sole proprietorships and partnerships will have to face CAD $2,000 for penalties, while corporations may have to pay up to CAD $25,000 for any of these offenses.

Ontario Business Registry Contact Details  

For businesses that have further questions about signing up, visit Ontario Business Registry website or send them an email for more information.

Conclusion

Businesses and other entities, no matter the size, should register and create their account with the Ontario Business Registry. Once registered, enterprises can complete a range of transactions from registering a fresh business to discontinuing its current venture—and so many others in between.

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