A Master Business Licence, alternatively known as Business Name Registration, is a registration statement document from Service Ontario, that allows business owners to legally operate their business under the designated name. Any brands you see advertising publicly, can only legally do so in Ontario by registering for this licence.

Register a New MBL or Renew an Existing One: You may register or renew the Master Business Licence in the form of a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership or Trade Name. Upon registration completion, you will receive a one page document named “registration statement”. The document will show the name of business, the address of the business, the name of the business owner, address and business activity. The registration will provide a Business Identification Number, which is a 9 digit number specifically dedicated to your registration with the Province of Ontario; at the lower corner of the registration the date of the expiry will be listed (see example). This date provides you the 5 year expiry date of your registration. It is important to make note of this date as when it comes around, you will be required and are responsible to either renew the registration or allow it to expire

Owned by One Person

Features:
✓ Known as Sole Proprietorship
✓ Owner must have an Ontario address
✓ Owner must be above 18 years old
✓ Online filing fee is $29
✓ Government registration fee is $60
✓ Can be ready in 2 hours if Rush Queue is selected
 

Owned by a Corporation

Features:
✓ Known as Trade Name/Operating Name/DBA
✓ Owning corporation must be registered in Onatrio
✓ Owning federal or non-Ontario corporations must be registered extra-provincially in Ontario
✓ Online filing fee is $29
✓ Government registration fee is $60
✓ Can be ready in 2 hours if Rush Queue is selected  

Owned by Two or More Persons or Corporations

Features:
✓ Known as General Partnership
✓ Owning Corporations must be registered in Onatrio
✓ Owning federal or non-Ontario corporations must be registered extra-provincially in Ontario
✓ Online filing fee is $29
✓ Government registration fee is $60
✓ Can be ready in 2 hours if Rush Queue is selected

MBL: Types and Explanations

Owned by One Person (Sole Proprietorship): An individual wants to enjoy certain advantages by operating his/her business in a designated business name instead of his/her personal name. These advantages include opening a bank account, developing a brand, or acquiring a municipal permit and more. In this case, the type of legal entity would be “sole proprietorship” in the registration statement. The individual must have an Ontario address and be more than 18 years old.

Owned by One Corporation (Trade Name): A corporation may also register a master business licence to operate its entire business or a certain department under a different operating name other than its legal name. These operating names are also commonly known as Trade Name or Doing Business As (DBA), or a fictitious name, or an assumed name. Generally, a numbered corporation (ex. 654321 Ontario Inc.) register operating names to have a brand value or publishing on business card or advertising publicly or obtaining a municipal licence. Another common reason for which a corporation registers a Master Business Licence is, to operate its separate department under a separate business name or to have a separate bank account for accounting purposes. The registration statement will show the legal entity type as “Corporation”. The corporation must have an Ontario address and must be registered in Ontario. A federal corporation or non-Ontario provincial corporation can register a Master Business Licence provided that the corporation is registered extra-provincially in Ontario.

Owned by Two or More Individuals or Corporations (General Partnership): When two or more individuals want to set up an unincorporated business in Ontario, they can register a Master Business Licence as a form of General Partnership. Alternatively, two or more corporations (or individuals and corporations as partners) can also register a Master Business Licence in the form of a General Partnership. All individual partners must have address in Ontario and be above 18 years of old. The corporations must provide an address in Ontario and be registered in Ontario.

MBL: Sample Documents

MBL: Sole Proprietorship

Owned by One Person

MBL: Trade Name

Owned by one corporation

MBL: General Partnership

Owned by two or more persons or corporations

MBL: Functions and Features

The Master Business Licence provides the following:
  1. Registration is valid for a 5 year period.
  2. The ability to operate a business name within Ontario.
  3. To open a Bank account, tax accounts, obtain cheques, business cards.
  4. Advertise and promote the business name.
The Master Business Licence does not provide the following:
  1. Name protection against other business names in Ontario.
  2. Corporate tax benefits.
  3. Continual registration.
  4. Flexibility to make changes to the registration.