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How to register a business name

Registering a business name

The law dictates that you must register your business name if you are operating your sole proprietorship under a name other than your own legal name. Once you complete 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 successfully registered your business name with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, you will receive a Master Business Licence (MBL). The MBL can be used as legal proof of your business name registration at financial institutions. The MBL can also be used to conduct other business-related transactions with the Ontario provincial government such as business licence acquisitions.

If you are registering the business name of a sole proprietorship, you must file an application called a Form 1. The Form 1 requires you to provide fundamental information about your sole proprietorship business including the name of your business, the address of your business, and details about what your business does. After you complete the Form 1, you will be required to pay a nominal fee prior to submitting your application to the ministry.

Renewing a business name

Once the business name has been registered, it will then be added to the public record of all Ontario businesses. A business name registration is legally valid for five years. If you want to use the business name for longer than five years, you should renew your registration before the original registration expires. You can renew the registration by completing the renewal form and paying a nominal fee. Even though it is best to submit the renewal before the name expires, a renewal can still be submitted within 60 days after the expiration of the business name. It is important to note that the ministry will not notify you when your business name has expired. It is your responsibility to record the date for your renewal.

Registration of changes or cancellation

If you want to make a change to the business, such as changing the address of the business, you will need to file an amended registration with the ministry within 15 days of the change. No fee exists for filing these types of changes. However, if a new owner takes over the operation of your business, or you want to change the name of the business, you will be required to file a new Form 1 and repay the government fee.

If you want to stop conducting business under your registered name, or you want to stop conducting business altogether, then you should cancel your business name. You can officially cancel your business name by filing another Form 1 with the ministry. There are no fees attached to filing a cancellation.

The ministry is a great resource that can direct you to your local business self-help office for more information. You should contact a lawyer if you require further legal advice regarding what business structure is best for you, case-specific details about your business registration, and any other legal issue that may arise.

Read more:

Choosing a name. . .

Naming your business