Ontario Business Registry: Guide for Entrepreneurs and Businesses

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The vibrant business landscape of Ontario, Canada, offers exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs and established businesses alike. Navigating the legalities and registrations involved in starting or operating a business in this province, however, can sometimes feel overwhelming. Let’s delves into the Ontario Business Registry (OBR), a crucial resource for all businesses in Ontario.

Ontario Business Registry: Your Gateway to Business Registration

The Ontario Business Registry (OBR) is a one-stop online platform administered by the Ontario government. It streamlines the process of registering, incorporating, and licensing businesses operating within the province.

Key Functions of the OBR:

Business Registration:

The OBR allows businesses to register their legal name and operating structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.).


Entrepreneurs can use the OBR to incorporate their businesses, granting them limited liability protection.

Business Name Registration:

The OBR facilitates registering a business name separate from the legal name, commonly used for marketing purposes.

Filing Annual Returns:

Businesses must submit annual returns to the OBR to maintain their good standing within the province.

Making Business Changes:

The OBR provides a platform for businesses to update their registered information, such as directors, shareholders, or address changes.

Public Search Function:

The OBR offers a public search function where anyone can find information about registered businesses in Ontario.

Benefits of Using the OBR:

  • Convenience and Efficiency: The OBR provides a user-friendly online platform, simplifying the business registration and incorporation process.
  • Reduced Paperwork: The OBR significantly reduces the need for paper forms and manual submissions, streamlining the process.
  • Transparency and Accessibility: The public search function of the OBR promotes transparency and allows anyone to verify business information.
  • Time-Saving: The OBR’s online platform allows for faster processing times compared to traditional paper-based methods.
  • Reduced Costs: Using the OBR can be more cost-effective than hiring legal or professional services for basic business registration.

Who Needs to Register with the OBR?

Any business operating in Ontario, regardless of size or structure, is required to register with the OBR. This includes:

  • Sole proprietorships
  • Partnerships
  • Corporations
  • Limited liability partnerships (LLPs)
  • Unincorporated businesses


There are a few exceptions to mandatory registration with the OBR. These typically involve businesses operating solely as:

  • Sole proprietors selling only their own agricultural or craft products directly to consumers.
  • Professionals already regulated by a specific governing body (e.g., lawyers, doctors)

Always consult with a legal professional or the Ontario government website for definitive guidance on whether your specific business needs to register with the OBR.

Navigating the OBR: A Step-by-Step Guide

The OBR registration process can be completed online through the Ontario government website. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

1. Gather Necessary Information:

Before registering, ensure you have the following information readily available:

  • Desired business name
  • Business structure (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, etc.)
  • Business address and mailing address (if different)
  • Names and contact information of directors or partners (if applicable)
  • Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code (identifies your industry)

2. Choose Your Registration Method:

The OBR offers two primary registration methods:

  • Individual User Registration: Suitable for individuals registering a single business or sole proprietorship.
  • Business Registration Service (BRS): Ideal for businesses with complex structures or requiring additional services like corporate name reservation.

3. Complete the Registration Process:

Follow the online prompts on the OBR website, providing the necessary information and selecting the appropriate registration type.

4. Pay Applicable Fees:

There are associated fees for registering with the OBR. These fees vary depending on the business structure and chosen registration method.

5. Receive Confirmation and Maintain Records:

Once your registration is complete, you will receive confirmation from the OBR. Remember to keep a copy of your registration documents for future reference.

Additional Considerations:

  • Business Name Availability: Before registering your business name, check for availability within the OBR to avoid conflicts with existing businesses.
  • Business Number: Upon successful registration, you will receive a Business Number (BN) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This BN is crucial for various business activities, including filing taxes.
  • Ongoing Compliance: Maintain good standing with the OBR by filing annual returns and updating any changes to your business information promptly.

For detailed instructions and the latest information, always refer to the official Ontario Business Registry website.

Additional Resources:

The Ontario government and other organizations offer valuable resources to assist you with the OBR and business registration process:

  • ServiceOntario: Provides information and resources for various government services, including business registration.
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA): Offers information on Business Numbers and tax requirements for businesses.
  • Small Business BC: While based in British Columbia, their resources on business registration can be informative for Ontario businesses as well.

Beyond the OBR: Additional Considerations for Starting a Business in Ontario

While the OBR simplifies business registration, it’s crucial to consider other important aspects when starting or operating a business in Ontario:

  • Business Licenses and Permits: Depending on your industry and location, you may require additional licenses or permits from your municipality or provincial regulatory bodies.
  • Taxes: Businesses in Ontario are subject to various taxes, including income tax, sales tax (HST), and employer health tax (EHT). Familiarize yourself with your tax obligations to ensure compliance.
  • Business Insurance: Consider obtaining appropriate business insurance to protect your company from potential liabilities.
  • Banking and Financing: Secure access to business banking services and explore financing options to support your business operations.


By understanding the Ontario Business Registry and navigating the registration process effectively, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your business in Ontario. Remember, the OBR is just the first step.

Carefully consider additional requirements, permits, and legalities to ensure your business operates smoothly and within compliance. With proper planning and utilization of available resources, you can leverage the OBR to streamline your business registration and focus on achieving success in the dynamic business landscape of Ontario.

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