What is a Master Business Licence in Ontario?

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You are looking to start a business and you keep hearing about having to acquire a Master Business Licence. Also commonly known as Ontario Business Registration, this licence is only available to Ontario residents who are looking to set up their business.

Master Business Licence gives access to business owners to legally operate under a given business name and enjoy added liberties. Any brands you see advertising on television, on billboards, online or in the newspaper can only legally do so in Ontario by registering for this license.

Under the Business Names Act, the Master Business Licence helps to register any of these business types: Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, and Trade Name. 

What Does the Master Business Licence Registration Include?

Quite typically, the registration will include the name of the business, the address of the business, the name of the business owner, address and business activity.

The registration will also write out your Business Identification Number, which is a 9 digit number specifically assigned to your registration with Ontario; at the bottom of the registration, the date of the expiry will be outlined.

This date lays out the expiry date of your registration 5 years from when you applied. It is recommended to keep track of this important date as you are in charge of renewing your registration.

The government will not send out any reminders. If you happen to forget to renew after the expiry date has already passed, you have a short grace period to renew without having to register all over again.

Can Anyone Register a Master Business Licence?

Put simply, anyone who is over 18 years of age can register. There is no condition as to the status of the registrant. The form does not entail whether you need to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.

If you are unsure if you are able to register as a foreign person or immigrant to Canada, it is recommended to reach out to Immigration Canada to determine your eligibility. Here is the run-down on the requirements needed to register for each business type:

  • Sole Proprietorships:

Sole Proprietorship business registration is only available to a sole business owner. An alternate option for new business owners is to incorporate the business as a Sole Director.  

  • General Partnerships:

General Partnerships registration is accessible to either two or more individuals who decide to operate together in Ontario. The General Partnership can also be applied to corporations who choose to run a business together.

There is no predefined percentage of ownership and duties outlined amongst stakeholders. This is why it is crucial to lay out the details of percentages of partnership that explicitly state the roles of each owner and how much of the company is theirs. 

  • Trade Name:

Trade Name registration is only accessible to an existing corporation that has been previously incorporated in Ontario or imported into Ontario. In this scenario, they would have received an Ontario Corporate number already.

There is another benefit to registering under a Trade Name. The Trade Name provides the flexibility to manage secondary business names under the main corporate brand. The number of trade names under your corporation is unlimited.

What Can I Do With a Master Business Licence?

There are quite a few advantages that come along with registering for a Master Business Licence. The most obvious answer would be that you as a new business owner would be able to legally operate under a business name within the province of Ontario.

This also translates to being permitted to open accounts with banks, obtain cheques, business cards and open tax accounts.

There are also benefits associated with purchasing from suppliers as now you are able to access discounted pricing and purchase from wholesalers. This translates to big savings for your business.

With the Master Business Licence, you can also legally market your brand and advertise your business name.

Whether you always had a dream to have a billboard with your brand’s name spread out boldly or have a television commercial for your business, it is all possible with a Master Business Licence.

When you register for the Master Business Licence, there are many liberties that you can legally experiment on with your brand.

What Does Master Business Licence Not Cover?

Now that we covered what the Master Business Licence offers, here is a shortlist to highlight what is not covered:

  1. Name protection from competitors and other brands in Ontario
  2. Liability protection for the business owner
  3. Corporate tax benefits
  4. Automatic registration renewals
  5. Flexibility to make changes after registration is complete

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.