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Business Name Registration

Business Name Registration in Ontario

Business Law

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Registering a business name is an initial step for entrepreneurs in Ontario, which marks the official transition from a business idea to a legal entity. The process not only secures your business name but also ensures compliance with the legal requirements of the Ontario Business Names Act. 

Step 1: Choosing Your Business Name

The first step in registering your business name is choosing a unique and descriptive name that reflects your business’s nature and services. Ontario law requires that your business name be distinct and not too similar to existing names to avoid confusion and potential legal disputes. You should consult a legal professional to ensure your chosen name meets all legal criteria.

Step 2: Determining the Type of Business Structure

Before registering your business name, decide on the type of business structure that best suits your needs: sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation. Each structure has different legal, tax, and financial implications. Sole proprietorships and partnerships with names different from the owners’ personal names must register their business name. Corporations, while automatically registered under their corporate name, may also register a separate business name under which they operate. There are limits to what you can name your business depending on the structure. For example, sole proprietorships cannot use “Inc.” in their name.

Step 3: Conducting a Name Search

Although not mandatory for sole proprietorships and partnerships, conducting a NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) is recommended to ensure your chosen business name does not infringe on existing trademarks or corporate names. This search provides a detailed report of names similar to yours, reducing the risk of legal issues related to name infringement.

Step 4: Registering Your Business Name

Once you’ve chosen a compliant business name, the next step is to officially register it with the Ontario government, which can be done online through the ServiceOntario website, by mail, or in person at a ServiceOntario centre. You must complete a Business Name Registration form, providing details about your business, such as the business name, business activity type, and personal information.

Step 5: Paying the Registration Fee

A fee is required to register your business name in Ontario. The cost might vary depending on the registration method (online, by mail, or in person) and the duration of registration. Ensure you check the current fees on the ServiceOntario website to understand the costs associated with your registration.

Step 6: Obtaining Your Business Name Registration

After successfully registering your business name, you will receive a Business Name Registration (Previously known as Master Business Licence). This document serves as proof of business name registration, typically required for various business activities, such as opening a bank account, signing contracts, and applying for business loans. Keep this document safe, as it is integral to your business’s legal documentation.


Registering your business name in Ontario is a legal step in establishing your business. By following these steps, entrepreneurs can ensure their business name is legally protected and recognized. It’s also advisable to consult with legal professionals or business advisors to navigate any complexities and ensure compliance with all relevant laws and regulations.

If you are in search of guidance from a business lawyer, contact us and see how our firm can help you.

The information provided above is of a general nature and should not be considered legal advice. Every transaction or circumstance is unique, and obtaining specific legal advice is necessary to address your particular requirements. Therefore, if you have any legal questions, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.

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