Register/Incorporate a Business

Register/Incorporate a Business

ESC provides an easy to follow process for both Ontario Business Name Registrations and Incorporations. We also provide services across the Canada for registration and filing needs.

When starting a new business or company, considering all the possible registration options is an important step. Many options are available and each offers different benefits as well as possible drawbacks. Understanding which one will best serve your needs is one key to your success.

ESC provides an easy to follow process for both Ontario Business Name Registrations and Incorporations. We also provide services for filing Federal incorporations.

Looking to get your business started? Visit Business Complete to register your business name or file your incorporation. 

  • Compare the benefits of Incorporating and Business Name Registration
  • Start a Company – File Ontario Articles of Incorporation to start a Company
  • Start a Business – Business Name Registration
  • Additional Information and Resources for Business Owners

Start a Company in 3 Steps

Follow the 3 easy steps below to incorporate a company in Ontario. For assistance with the incorporation process please contact our support team @ 416.595.7177 or 1.800.668.8208 and select option ‘3’ at any time.

  1. Choose a Company Name
  2. File Articles of Incorporation
  3. Steps After Incorporating

#1  Choose a Company Name

Note: For numbered companies, Step 1 is not required – proceed to #2.

When incorporating a company in Ontario, you have the choice of selecting either a “Numbered” or “Named” corporation name.

Named Corporations require the reservation of the name by first doing a company name search that is referred to as a NUANS Report prior to beginning the incorporation process. Generally, a named corporation cannot have the same name as an existing corporation and should be descriptive so that it is not confused with similar, existing corporations.

ESC provides you with a NUANS Pre-Search prior to ordering the NUANS Report. The NUANS Pre-Search lists existing business and corporation names that may be the same or similar to the name you would like to use. The NUANS Pre-Search can be used to make sure your proposed name is not too similar to other company or business names, or that your proposed name is not already an existing corporation name. The NUANS Pre-Search means you can make an informed decision regarding the company name you intend to use when you incorporate.

Another consideration when incorporating using a named corporation is any relevant legislation that may require you to have specific elements within the name. For example: if you are a professional corporation, you must include the words “Professional Corporation” or “Société professional” in your company name, and cannot use a numbered company name type. Other regulatory bodies may also have certain restrictions related to named companies.

Numbered Corporation Names do not require either a pre-search or NUANS Report. The only requirement is the selection of a legal ending. The corporation name will contain 8 numeric digits, followed by the word ONTARIO, followed by the selected legal ending. For example: 98765432 ONTARIO INC.

All corporation names of companies incorporated under the Ontario Business Corporations Act must contain a legal element: Limited, Limitee, Ltd., Ltee, Incorporated, Incorporee, Inc., Corporation, Corp.

#2 File Articles of Incorporation

The fastest, most efficient and cost effective way to incorporate a company in Ontario is to file Articles of Incorporation online. Only Articles of Incorporation for Ontario Business Corporations can be filed electronically. Ontario Corporation Non-share, Credit Union, Social Club (with share and Non-share), Co-Operative (with share and Non-share) and Loan and Trust Corporations cannot be filed electronically.

To begin the incorporation process, you will require the following key information:

  • Corporation Name: You will need the full name of your company. If selecting a ‘Named Corporation’ the NUANS Report reservation number (located in the top left hand corner of the NUANS Report) will be required.
  • Registered Office Address: This must be the company’s physical address – this address cannot be a P.O. Box.
  • Director Information: Director’s must be an individual and be at least 18 years of age. Directors cannot be a corporation. For Directors that are not Incorporators, a consent to Act as a First Director should be completed and kept at the registered office address in the Corporate Minute Book. The following items will be required to complete the incorporation process as they relate to the Directors of an Ontario corporation.
    • Select a Number of Directors: A Corporation can have either a minimum and maximum number of directors, or a fixed number of directors. Using minimum and maximum allows the number of Directors to change over time and does not require the company to amend the fixed number.
    • Director’s Full Name: must include first and last names; middle name is optional.
    • Director’s Canadian Residency: A minimum of 25% of the directors of an Ontario Business Corporation with share are required to be resident Canadians. The incorporation process will require you to indicate ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for each Director.
    • Director’s Address for Service: Include the Director’s physical address – this address cannot be a P.O. Box.
  • Incorporator Information: An Incorporator can be an individual or another corporation (already incorporated). You will require the same information that is required for a Director’s individual information, except the Canadian Residency portion.
  • Additional Articles of Incorporation Sections: The additional sections you are required to complete include: Restrictions, Share Classes, Share Provisions, Share Transfer and Other Provisions.
  • Terms & Conditions: Review the online incorporation terms & conditions, including that one of the Incorporators is the authorizing person to process the incorporation. No original signature for online incorporation is required.

To complete the incorporation process, you will also require details such as your billing information, contact information, and effective date for the incorporation (today’s date, or up to 30 days from today’s date).

Upon submission of your order, an ESC order number confirmation will display on the screen. Once the incorporation is completed you will receive your Articles of Incorporation in PDF format via email from “[email protected]”. The PDF documents are the original copy of your Articles of Incorporation.

Ontario online incorporations are processed from 8:10am – 5:45pm Monday to Friday. Submission outside of these hours will be processed automatically as soon as the service next becomes available. For example, a submission done on Saturday will be processed Monday morning.

 #3  After Incorporating – What To Do Next?

After you have incorporated your company and received your Articles of Incorporation you may be wondering what to do next? Generally, the first step is to purchase your company Minute Book so you can begin to organize your company records the right way.

Maintaining a company Minute Book is a requirement of the Ontario Business Corporations Act, and the Minute Book should be kept at the company’s registered office address. Minute Books include items like the company’s Articles of Incorporation, Share Certificates, Register of Directors / Officers, and are used to catalogue any future corporate filings and corporate records related to the company.

Start a Business in 3 Steps

Follow the 3 easy steps below to register a Business Name in Ontario. For assistance with the registration process please contact our support team @ 416.595.7177 or 1.800.668.8208 and select option ‘3’ at any time.

  1. Choose a Business Name
  2. Choose a Form of Business
  3. Register a Business Name

#1 Choose a Business Name

In order to register a new business, you need to register a business name. Unlike incorporating a company, a full NUANS Report that reserves the name to be used for incorporation is not required. However, ESC strongly recommends completing a NUANS Pre-Search as part of your process to choose a name for your business. The pre-search can be used to ensure the name you would like to register is not too similar to other names, or that it is already not being used by an existing business – this means you can make an informed decision on the name you intend to register.

If you decide to order a NUANS Pre-Search you will be able to search 5 different names at once for a single fee.

#2  Choose a Form of Business

Businesses come in many forms, and each form of business offers its own benefits as well as possible drawbacks. A Sole Proprietorship form of business for example, means you are your own boss and make your own decisions, however you are solely liable for your business’ decisions. Partnerships offer more flexibility in business funding options together with shared unlimited liability among the partners, but decision-making is also shared between two or more partners; it is essential therefore to consider how to form the partnership and ensure the partnership agreement is in place prior to registering a business name. There are also Corporate Styles that serve as business names under which a corporation caries on its business.

The three types of business name registrations that are available online through ESC are:

  • Sole Proprietorship: A registration by an individual. The owner of the business is solely responsible for all debts, liabilities and obligations of the business.
  • General Partnership: A registration by two or more partners which can include individuals and/or corporations. Owners of a partnership have unlimited liability relating to the business meaning each partner is liable for the debts and obligations of the business.
  • Corporate Business Style or Trade Name: A corporation that would like to register another name (other than their corporate name) can register a business name that will show 100% ownership by the corporation. A corporation may choose to register multiple names, commonly referred to as operating names.

Note: Business name registration by existing General Partnerships or Limited Partnerships, or for new Limited Liability Partnerships, or Extra-Provincial Limited Liability Partnerships and Companies cannot be filed online.

#3 Register a Business Name

The fastest, most efficient and cost-effective way to register a business name for Sole proprietorship’s, General Partnerships and corporation operating names is online. Business name registrations for these business types are effective for a 5-year period, after which they will expire if not renewed. If you previously registered your business name and would like to renew it, please click here for further details.

To begin the registration process you will require the following key information:

  • Business Name: The full name of the business you are going to register.
  • Business Address: Provide both the physical address of the business as well as the mailing address. The physical address of the business cannot be a P.O. Box.
  • Business Type: Type of registration (i.e. Sole Proprietorship, Partnership or Corporation (Corporate operating name).
  • Owner Information: Based on the type of registration, you will need to include the following details:
    • Owners’ Full Names: Includes first name, last name – middle name is optional. For registrations where the owners include a corporation, the corporation name and Ontario Corporation Number will be required.
    • Owners’ Address for Service: Include the individual’s or corporation’s address, as prescribed by the registration type.
  • Business Activity: Describe the main business activity, product or service. The description of business activity cannot exceed 40 characters.

To complete the registration of your new business, you will also be required to provide details such as your billing and contact information.

Once you submit your registration; an ESC order number confirmation will display on the screen. As soon as the registration is completed, you will receive an email from “[email protected]” with your Master Business Licence in PDF format. The PDF document is the original copy of your Master Business Licence.

Ontario Business Name Registrations are processed from 8:35am – 5:45pm Monday to Friday. Submission outside of these hours will be processed automatically as soon as the service next becomes available. For example, a submission done on Saturday will be processed Monday morning.

Some Differences Between Incorporation and Registration

Incorporating a company offers many benefits from competitive tax rates to the concept of a “legal person”. A corporation is an entity separate from its owner; a corporation can be sued, sue, file for bankruptcy, borrow money, own property, equipment, etc. The status of a “legal person” as a corporation largely protects ownership from legal liability. Corporations are eternal until either dissolved by the owners or cancelled by the government and thus offer continuity over time.

Businesses come in different forms ranging from Sole Proprietorship to Partnerships to Joint Ventures. Businesses are generally registered for a duration of 5 years and therefore need to be renewed. Businesses do not offer the same legal protection as corporations, as they are considered one and the same entity as their owners. Businesses are taxable at the personal income tax rate of the owner(s), and even though taxation can be quite high as business profits grow, at the initial operating stages of the business the tax rate may prove to be advantageous.

Note: These differences are not exhaustive – for a full review as well as to obtain legal advice, we suggest contacting a legal professional.