If you’re thinking of starting a business in Ontario,this question is probably on your mind: do I have to register my business business in Ontario?
Ontario has its own set of business rules, which combine federal, provincial, and city guidelines. Registering your business makes things official and helps you gain trust from customers and partners. But if you don’t register when you should, you might end up facing fines and other problems.
Let’s break down the ins and outs of business registration in Ontario and why it matters:
- Understanding whether you need to register your business in Ontario is an important first step in starting a business
- There are different types of businesses that require registration, depending on factors such as the business’s legal structure, and whether you have employees, facilities, or offices in Ontario
- Registering your business can help you comply with regulations and establish credibility
- Not registering your business – when you’re legally obligated to – can expose you to potential penalties
Understanding Business Registration in Ontario
In Ontario, business registration is mandatory for most businesses. Registering your business is a legal requirement that allows you to operate your business in the province.
Here are some key things you need to know about business registration in Ontario:
Types of Business Structures in Ontario
Before you can register your business in Ontario, you need to decide on the legal structure of your business. The most common types of business structures in Ontario are:
Each type of business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should carefully consider the pros and cons of each structure before making a decision.
Ontario Business Registry
The Ontario Business Registry is the central registry for all businesses in Ontario. It is the place where you can register your business, update your business information, and file annual reports. The Ontario Business Registry also provides access to a range of government services, such as applying for permits and licenses.
Registering Your Business in Ontario
To register your business in Ontario, you need to follow these steps:
- Choose a business name: Your business name must be unique and not already in use by another business in Ontario. You can check the availability of a business name using the Ontario Business Name Search.
- Choose a business structure: Decide on the legal structure of your business.
- Register your business: You can register your business online using the Ontario Business Registry. You will need to provide some basic information about your business, such as your business name, business structure, and contact information.
- Obtain necessary permits and licenses: Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain permits and licenses from various government agencies.
- Register for taxes: You may need to register for various taxes, such as the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), payroll taxes, and corporate income tax.
Business Registration Fees in Ontario
The registration fee for your business depends on the type of business structure you choose. Here are the current fees for online business registration:
- Sole Proprietorship registration fee: $60
- Partnership registration fee: $60
- Corporation registration fee: $300
Do I Have to Register My Business in Ontario? How to Know for Sure
Whether or not you need to register your business in depends on the type of business you want to start and several other factors:
The type of business structure you choose can affect whether or not you need to register your business with the government:
- You do not need to register your business if you use your exact name as the business name (e.g. if your name is John Smith, and you name your business “John Smith”).
- You do need to register your business if you use your name for the business along with additional words (e.g. “John Smith Landscaping”)
As with sole proprietorships, you are not required to register a partnership with the government if you operate under the exact names of the partners. However, you do need to register if your business will be operating under a name other than the exact names of the partners.
Corporations are required to register with the government.
Cooperatives are required to register with the government.
The type of business activities you plan to engage in can also affect whether or not you need to register your business. For example, if you plan to sell goods or services that are subject to the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), you will need to register for an HST account with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
Other factors that can affect whether or not you need to register your business include:
- Whether you plan to hire employees
- Whether you plan to operate your business in other provinces or territories
- Whether you plan to import or export goods
- Whether you plan to apply for government grants or funding
If any of the above factors apply to your business, you will need to register your business in Ontario.
Benefits of Registering Your Business
Registering your business in Ontario has several benefits that can help you establish a legitimate business and grow it successfully. Here are some of the key benefits of registering your business:
When you register your business as a corporation, you create a separate legal entity that is distinct from you as an individual. This means that you have limited liability protection, which can help protect your personal assets in the event that your business is sued or incurs debts.
Registering your business can also help establish credibility with potential customers, investors, and partners. It shows that you are serious about your business and have taken the necessary steps to establish it as a legitimate entity.
Access to Funding
Registered businesses may have access to more funding options than unregistered businesses. For example, banks and other financial institutions may be more willing to lend money to a registered business than an unregistered one.
Registered businesses may also be eligible for certain tax benefits, such as deductions for business expenses and lower tax rates on business income.
Registering your business can also provide legal protection for your business name and trademark if you register as a corporation in Ontario. By registering your business name, you can prevent others from using it without your permission and protect your business from infringement.
Potential Consequences of Not Registering
- Under the Business Names Act, individuals can face fines of up to $2,000, and corporations can face fines of up to $25,000 for failure to register or for registering false or misleading information. These fines can add up quickly and can be a significant financial burden on your business.
- Not registering your business can also have legal implications. If you do not register your business name, someone else can register it and prevent you from using it in the future. This can cause confusion among your customers and can damage your brand reputation.
- Not registering your business can limit your ability to access certain benefits. For example, if you want to open a business bank account, you will need to provide proof of business registration. Without this proof, you may not be able to access the financial services that you need to run your business effectively.
To sum up: not registering your business in Ontario can lead to fines, legal issues, and limited access to benefits. It is important to register your business name to protect your brand, avoid legal issues, and ensure that you can access the financial services that you need to run your business successfully.
Seeking Legal Advice
When starting a business in Ontario, it’s wise to consider getting legal advice. Furthermore, it’s important to protect yourself by using a licensed legal professional. According to the Law Society of Ontario, an unlicensed person may not be properly trained to provide legal services, is not required to follow a code of professional conduct or to answer to a regulator, does not have to carry insurance for negligence, and is not backed by a compensation fund.
When seeking legal advice, it is important to choose a lawyer who has experience in business law. They can help you with a variety of legal issues, such as choosing the right business structure, drafting contracts, and protecting your intellectual property. You can find a lawyer through the Law Society of Ontario’s Lawyer and Paralegal Directory.
Before hiring a lawyer, it is important to ask about their fees and billing practices. Some lawyers charge by the hour, while others may offer a flat fee for certain services. You should also ask about their experience and qualifications, and make sure you feel comfortable working with them.
In addition to hiring a lawyer, you may also want to consider other legal resources. The Ontario Small Business Support Network offers free legal advice to small business owners. They can help you with a variety of legal issues, such as incorporating your business, drafting contracts, and protecting your intellectual property. They also offer workshops and seminars on legal topics.
Overall, seeking legal advice can help protect your business and ensure that you are complying with all relevant laws and regulations. By choosing a licensed legal professional and taking advantage of other legal resources, you can feel confident that your business is on the right track.