If you’re launching a business in Ontario, Canada, you’re most likely going to need to register for a Master Business License (MBL). The application process is fairly quick and easy, but the information presented online is rather disjointed and difficult to follow. We’re here to simplify it all.
Continue reading while we unravel and organize what a MBL is, who needs one, the benefits of having one, how to register, and what to do if you need to amend, renew, or cancel yours.
What Is a Master Business License in Ontario?
A Master Business License is a document issued by Ontario Business & Economy that defines your business’s name, address, and a brief activities synopsis.
You may also hear an MBL referred to as a:
Your MBL will also display your business identification number (BIN), a 9-digit identifier that’s assigned when your MBL application is approved.
Do I Need a Master Business License in Ontario?
If you register a business in Ontario as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or a Limited Liability Partnership, you’ll need an MBL.
However, if you want to operate under your own name, instead of a business name, you may not need an MBL.
For example, if you want to do business under your name, Jane Doe, then you DO NOT need a Master Business License.
Conversely, if you wish to operate under Jane Doe’s Accounting, then you DO need to apply for a Master Business License.
If you only want to register for a Business Name (BN), then check with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Note that if you plan on incorporating your business, then you DO NOT typically need an MBL, but you Do need to file Articles of Incorporation.
Finally, if you incorporate your business, but want to operate under a separate name, like a brand name or a trade name, then you DO need an MBL.
What Are the Benefits of a Master Business License in Ontario?
Your Ontario Master Business License will provide the following benefits:
On the flip side, you should know that an MBL does not provide business name protection, liability protection, continuous registration, or corporate taxation benefits.
How to Apply for a Master Business License in Ontario: Step-by-Step
There are currently two methods available to apply for a Master Business License in Ontario, including:
To register for an MBL online, you’ll first need to create a ONe-key account, which allows you to securely access various Ontario government services and programs. During this process, you will be assigned a company-specific “key.”
After you have created your One-key account and have your key, you’ll be asked to create a ServiceOntario account. Once this account is set up, you’ll be able to access the Ontario Business Registry page, and proceed to register for your Master Business License online.
Alternately, you can download the proper form for your unique business structure, fill it out, and then mail it to:
Canada Revenue Agency
1050 Notre Dame Ave Suite 501
Canada, Sudbury, ON, P3A 5C2
If you have any questions along the way, you can call CRA on the phone at 800.959.5525.
Note that as of January 2023, Ontario residents no longer have the option to register for a Master Business License in-person. Online registration is the fastest and easiest method. You can complete the process via mail, but it will take considerably longer.
How Much Is a Master Business License in Ontario?
It’s widely recommended to do some research into your intended business name before registering your Ontario business and applying for a Master Business License.
Online searches of the business name database cost between $8 – $26 per, depending on the amount of detail you enter in the search parameters.
After you’ve established your BN, applying for your MBL online costs CA$60, and applying by mail costs CA$80. If you have questions, review the information provided here.
Anyone can perform FREE searches of the Ontario Central Forms Repository (CFR) for basic information about businesses and not-for-profit organizations.
Master Business License Ontario Sample
Here’s an example document for an MBL filed for a Sole Proprietor:
Master Business License Ontario: Getting Copies, Amending, Renewing, & Canceling
You can get an overview of all the business registry services the government of Ontario offers by visiting HERE. You will find answers to your questions about:
You can Contact Ontario Business Registry Online, and send them an email. Or you can call them from Monday to Friday, between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM, at 416.314.8880 or 800.361.3223.
The TTY number is 416.325.3408 and the toll-free TTY number is 800.268.7095.
Master Business License Toronto 2023
The best and fastest way to research, plan, and register a business and apply for a Master Business License in Toronto is to visit the province’s online resources.
Start at the Toronto License & Permit Online Application page to begin the process of applying for a Master Business License. You can also amend, renew, or cancel existing MBLs via this same online portal. Plus, you can use the Toronto Business License Lookup Tool to research possible competitors.