FAQ: Searches

Here are answers to questions about our search services:

  • PPSA Searches
  • Security Searches
  • ONBIS Searches
  • Business and Corporation Name Searches

About PPSA Searches

  1. What is PPSA?
    PPSA stands for Personal Property Security Act.
  2. If I want to complete a PPSA Search, what information do I need?
    PPSA Searches can be performed against an individual (with or without date of birth), corporation, business name, or Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Some provinces also allow you to search by other serial collateral identification numbers, and by a Registration Number in all provinces except Ontario.
  3. Can I search former business or corporate names?
    We recommend that former business or corporate names are searched at the same time as searching current names. The same applies to amalgamated entity names of a successor corporation.
  4. Can I search similar business or corporate names?
    Simply put, no. Only exact business names can be searched in PPSA systems.
  5. How do I search an individual’s name?
    An individual’s name can be searched using either Specific (with a date of birth) criteria, or Non-Specific (without a date of birth) criteria. You can also search with or without an individual’s middle initial.
  6. What is a Certified PPSA Search?
    A Certified PPSA Search has the Ministry’s certification stamp. Please note that certified search results are delivered next day.
  7. What is a High Volume PPSA Search?
    High Volume PPSA Searches are PPSA Searches that return results with the number of families that exceeds the set maximum number allowed for PPSA Search results to be considered Verbal. All High-Volume results are automatically converted into the Certified format and are delivered next day.

About Security Searches

  1. What searches are classified as Security Searches?
    Securities Searches include the following: Bank Act (s. 427), Litigation, PPSA, Bankruptcy and Official Receiver Searches, Real Estate, and Writs of Execution. To read more about security searches, click here.
  2. How can I quickly summarize Security Search Results?
    We offer ESR (Enhanced Search Report) services that automatically summarize all your corporate and security search results into one comprehensive and well-structured summary.

About ONBIS and Ontario Corporate Searches

  1. What is ONBIS?
    ONBIS stands for Ontario Business Information System. ONBIS is the database of all Ontario Business, Non-Profit and Corporate records maintained by the Ontario Central Production and Verification Services Branch (CPVSB) of the Ministry of Government Services (MGS).
  2. What is an ONBIS Report?
    An ONBIS Report is commonly referred to as an Ontario Corporate Search. For detailed information on Corporate Searches, click here.
  3. What is ECI?
    ECI means “Electronic Corporate Index” and is a list of corporations which have been or are currently active in Ontario. The ECI provides fundamental information such as name, number, date of incorporation, jurisdiction, status and establishment type, all of which is typically used as a precursor to ordering Ontario Corporate Searches such as a Corporate Profile Report.
  4. What is the difference between the ESC and MGS ECI Search?
    The ESC ECI database is a local copy of the corporation index, and we receive weekly updates of the index. The MGS ECI gives you direct access to the Ministry’s database and provides up-to-the-minute information on corporations that have recently changed names, amalgamated or incorporated.
  5. Can I search federal companies or other provincial companies on ONBIS?
    ONBIS is an Ontario database that contains companies that are, or have been, registered in Ontario. As such, ECI and ONBIS reports are only available for federal or provincial companies that have registered in Ontario.
  6. What does certified mean?
    Being certified means your ONBIS report contains an electronic signature by the Director Registrar of the Ministry of Government Services. This signature means that the report is a certified true copy of the record in the Ontario Business Information System (ONBIS).
  7. How can I get copies of actual corporate documents?
    Copies of actual corporate documents and filings can be obtained from Corporate Microfiche.
  8. What is available from the Ontario Corporate Microfiche?
    The following documents are available on the microfiche:

    • All Articles.
    • All Notices filed prior to January 1, 1995.
    • Initial Notice for Extra Provincial Corporations.
    • Special Resolutions (if filed with the MGS).
    • All documents filed prior to the conversion date, June 27, 1992, for the Ontario Business Information System – ONBIS.
    • Corporation Trade Names registered prior to May 1, 1996.
    • All Notice of Default and Notice of Dissolution from Corporate Tax Department prior to March 1, 2004.
    • The microfiche should only be ordered if you have access to a microfiche reader to make document copies. If you do not have a microfiche reader, order copies of documents from ESC. For a copy of an Initial Return/Notice of Change or Annual Return filed by a Corporation after the conversion date (June 27, 1992), copies are not available on the Microfiche. Order a point-in-time report to obtain the details of these filings.
  9. What is a Point-in-Time Report?
    A corporate Point-in-Time Report displays all information for an Ontario Corporation as of a specific date. The report is based on information recorded since June 27, 1992 that is available through the Ontario Business Information System (ONBIS).
  10. Are English and French reports available?
    Ontario provides ONBIS reports in either English or French with the exception of microfiche. The language selection is made when you order the report. English and French reports are not available in all jurisdictions and availability is dependent on the province.

About Business Name Searches

  1. What is the difference between a Business Name and Corporation?
    A Business Name is a registered name that is commonly used for businesses such as Sole Proprietors, Partnerships or additional operating names of a Corporation. A Corporation is considered its own “legal person” with its own rights and liabilities separate from its owners. Contact your legal advisor for detailed information on the differences.
  2. What is an Enhanced Business Name Search (EBNS)?
    An Enhanced Business Name Search is an Ontario business name search that provides you with a list of similar business names found for the name you searched.
  3. What is an Exact Business Name Search?
    An Exact Business Name Search searches for the exact business name only.
  4. Is there an Expired Business Name Search?
    Yes, but this search is manual search process. ESC staff will take your order online and conduct the actual search at the Ministry of Government Services. Results will be provided to you online via eService in PDF format.
  5. Why did I get a Statement of No Match?
    A Statement of No Match may be received in one of the following situations: (i) the business name was entered incorrectly for an Exact Business Name Search; (ii) the business name has expired; (iii) the business name has been cancelled; or (iv) the business name does not exist.


  1. What is a NUANS Report?
    NUANS Reports display similar corporate and business names, together with trademarks, to your proposed name and reserves your proposed name for a period of 90 days.
  2. Can an Ontario NUANS Report be used for incorporating federally?
    The NUANS Report must be ordered in the jurisdiction in which you wish to incorporate. You cannot use an Ontario NUANS Report to incorporate federally.
  3. How long will my name be reserved?
    NUANS Reports reserve your proposed name for 90 days.
  4. Does a NUANS Report cover all jurisdictions?
    The NUANS database excludes Quebec entities not registered in other Canadian provinces, but includes all other Canadian jurisdictions.
  5. What is NUANS Reference Number?
    A NUANS Reference Number is an 8-digit number located directly to the right of your Proposed Name and is required for online incorporation.