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How to register a business name

Region: Ontario Answer # 209

Registering a business name

If you operate your sole proprietorship under a name other than your own name, the law requires that you register the business name. After you conduct a name search to ensure that the name you want is not being used, you can then register your business with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

Once you have registered your business name, you will receive a Master Business Licence, commonly known as the MBL. The MBL can be used as proof of business name registration at financial institutions and to conduct other business-related transactions with the Ontario government, such as business licence acquisitions.

To register the business name of a sole proprietorship, you must file an application, called a Form 1. This Form requires you to provide basic information about your business, such as the name of your business, its address, and what your business does. After completing this form, you must submit it together with a nominal fee to the Ministry.

Renewing a business name

When a business name is registered, it is added to the public record of all Ontario businesses. A business name registration is only valid for five years. If you plan to use the name for longer than five years then it is advisable that you renew your registration before the first one expires. The registration can be renewed by completing the renewal form and paying a small fee. Although it is best to submit the renewal before the name expires, a renewal may be submitted within 60 days after the expiration of the name. The Ministry will not notify you when your business name expires. It is your responsibility to record the date for renewal.

Registration of changes, or cancellation

If a change is made to the business, such as the address of the business changes, you must file an amended registration with the Ministry within 15 days of the change. There is no fee for filing these changes. However, if a new owner takes over operation of the business, or you wish to change the business name, you must file a new Form 1 and pay the government fee.

If you want to stop doing business under your registered name or you want to stop doing business altogether, you should cancel your business name. This is also done by filing another Form 1 with the Ministry. There is no fee for filing a cancellation.

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.

More info

For more information on registering a business name, visit Government of Ontario, Business and Economy services, or the Federal Government’s Small Business Services.

Get legal help

For legal advice and assistance with forming a sole proprietorship or starting another form of business, and for other business issues, contact our preferred experts at Kalfa Law, or call them now at 1-800-631-7923.


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