How to Get a Business Licence in Ontario

by Allisa Wu

2 min read


Similar to any other provinces or territories in Canada, Ontario, too, requires that businesses operating within the province be approved for proper business, trade, or profession permits or licences.  These types of permits and/or licences are localized; meaning applications should be made directly to the municipality unless otherwise specified.

Since business licences are municipal in nature and not provincial, each municipality has different requirements or processes. The easiest way to begin is by contacting the local city hall where plan to operate your business. This would give you an idea of the types of permits required. Different types of businesses and establishments will require different licences and/or permits.

Case Example – Getting a Business Licence in Toronto

As a major business and financial hub, the City of Toronto is a prime location for starting a business.  However, given its size and population, obtaining a business licence may not be as simple as in other smaller municipalities.

First of all, in order to apply for a business licence, the business owner must have already registered the business name with the province.  Also, depending on whether the business is a sole proprietorship (i.e. Mom and Pop’s shop), a partnership, or a corporation, the applicant must provide documents which reflect the business structure.  Business owners cannot apply for a business licence online, but rather, will need to attend the Licence & Permit Issuing Office in person.  In order to apply, an additionally lengthy list of documentations are required for all applications, depending on the business.

Documents required for all applications:

  • An original Canada-wide Criminal background Check issued by a Canadian Police Service within 280 days prior to the application;
  • A lease agreement or letter of cancellation from the previous owner with their licence if the business has a physical location; and
  • Two pieces of government-issued identification

Depending on the licence or permit, additional documentation may be required.

Second of all, zoning approval is required for the majority of new business licence applications.  Where zoning approval is required, the Municipal Licensing & Standards Office will initiate the approval process after the application has been received.  Certain businesses, such as restaurants or entertainment establishments will require a Preliminary Project Review (PPR), which will be completed by the City’s building division.  The PPR may take up to eight weeks to process and the fee for 2015 is $219.97, a fee that is on top of the business licensing fee.  However, if a business applicant is merely taking over an existing business with a valid business licence (or one that expired less than a year ago), zoning approval is not required.

Finally, fees must be paid at the same time as the application.  Depending on the type of business, licensing fees could differ significantly.  For a complete list of the fees and the specific application requirements for the business licence and permit, visit the City of Toronto website.

Photo Copyright: Javen

Related Articles

What’s Changed in the New QuickBooks

The new QuickBooks Online bookkeeping software has gone through quite a few changes. As…

Read more

How to Start a Successful Canadian Security Company

Security companies help keep homeowners, apartment dwellers, and businesses safe by providing…

Read more

Absolutely Tasty and Totally Legal: How to Start a Legit Catering Company

Starting a catering company can take your passion for delicious food and…

Read more