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Can you incorporate a business yourself?

Region: Ontario Answer # 220

The incorporation of a business in Canada can be done very quickly and a routine incorporation can easily be completed within a week by anyone familiar with the various forms required by either federal or provincial governments.

With a careful review of the government forms to be filed, reliable name search results and a clear understanding of the best structure for your business, it is possible to do it yourself. Having said that, however, if you have never incorporated a business before, it is advisable to hire someone with experience. Although it is not a requirement, most people feel more comfortable hiring a lawyer, not only to do the paperwork, but also to ensure that a corporation is the right business structure for your purposes. Usually, for a straightforward Ontario incorporation, lawyers will charge a flat fee of approximately $1,500, plus the government filing fees, to incorporate your business for you. Furthermore, a lawyer can also conduct the corporate name search and prepare your minute books for an additional flat fee.

Other reasons to consult with someone who has experience is to decide on important issues, such as what types of shares and how many shall be issued, who the directors will be, licensing and government registrations that your business requires, and so on. A corporate and commercial lawyer will be able to easily answer your questions and help you make the best decision for your situation.

The cost of establishing a Canadian corporation is relatively modest and depends on whether you are incorporating provincially or federally. Also, some law firms have so-called “shelf” corporations that are already incorporated and can be activated immediately, if required.

NEW Ontario Business Registry

Businesses can now complete over 90 transactions online through the new Ontario Business Registry. This includes:

  • register a new business name
  • renew an existing business name
  • dissolving an existing business
  • incorporate, dissolve and change a corporation or not-for-profit or charity
  • search for a business or not-for-profit corporation
  • file notices and other documents under other business law statutes

Currently, mailing or emailing documents is also still available.

Registering existing business: Existing businesses and not-for-profits who wish to access their profile or file documents using the Registry will require a Company Key. Businesses can submit a request for their company key at Ontario.ca/BusinessRegistry.

New businesses and not-for-profits should visit the Ontario Business Registry: all services page for instructions on how to create and register their new business.

Anyone can do a free search of the Ontario Business Registry to get basic information about a business or not-for-profit corporation.

Some offices closed

As a result of the launch of the new Registry, six service counters across Ontario will no longer endorse articles submitted under the Business Corporations Act. As well, the ServiceOntario counter at 375 University Avenue in Toronto has closed. Visit ServiceOntario for information on what offices are still open and what transactions can be completed in-person.

Corporations Annual Returns

As of May 15, 2021, the Canada Revenue Agency no longer accepts corporations’ annual returns on behalf of Ontario. Corporations whose annual returns were due during the period of May 15, 2021 through October 18, 2021 were exempt from filing. Corporations who have an annual return due on or after October 19, 2021 must file their annual returns in the Registry.


More info

More information about incorporating a business in Ontario can be found from ServiceOntario. For information about federal incorporation, visit Government of Canada, Federal Corporations.

Get legal help

Selecting corporate and business names, incorporating a company, issuing shares, and preparing appropriate by-laws and minute books for a corporation can be complicated legal issues. For legal advice and assistance, contact our preferred experts at Kalfa Law, or call them now at 1-800-631-7923.



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