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How To Renew a Master Business License in Ontario

If you’re not sure what a master business license is, don’t worry–it’s actually the old name for what is now called a business name registration for a sole proprietorship. While the name has changed, the registration process (and renewal) is still the same. 

Sole proprietorships that operate under any name other than the legal name of the business owner are required to be registered in Ontario. This means that if you’ve already registered your business name in Ontario, you should already be in possession of a master business license that confirms your business registration.

However, a master business license doesn’t last forever: you’ll have to submit a renewal application before your license expires in order for your business name’s registration to remain active. Unfortunately, the government of Ontario does not provide any kind of reminder for when your name registration expires. That’s why we’re taking you through everything you need to know to avoid your name registration expiring, from when you need to submit your renewal to how much it costs and what will happen if you don’t renew it on time. 

Why you should renew your business license

A master business license in Ontario is valid for five years, after which you’ll need to apply for a renewal. If you allow your name registration to expire, you may come up against difficulty when it comes to things like maintaining your business bank account, dealing with clients and contractors, and advertising and marketing under an expired business name.

Once the grace period for your business name registration renewal has passed, your business will no longer be registered with the province of Ontario. This means that if you want to continue doing business, instead of submitting a simple renewal form, you’ll have to start the process of registering a sole proprietorship completely from scratch.

Ensuring that you renew your business name registration on time prevents you from having to deal with the hassle of starting from the beginning all over again. Plus, if there have been any changes to business name restrictions in the time since you first registered your sole proprietorship, registering again will mean that you are subject to those changes and could end up losing your original business name. If your name registration is kept active, your name won’t be subject to any new regulations around business names. 

Renewal documents required in Ontario

Before submitting your master business license renewal, you should be aware of the application requirements so you can gather the information you’ll need to include. You will be required to provide the registered business name, an official company email address, the full name of the sole proprietor, administrative contact information, the renewal fee, and a company key. If you have not yet been provided with a company key, you can submit a company key request form

You’ll also need to provide the following:

Business Identification Number (BIN)

Your Business Identification Number (BIN) would have already been assigned to you when you first registered your business name as a sole proprietorship. It is a unique number that allows the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services to identify your business account. Your BIN should be listed on your original business name registration. 

Original copy of business registration

Previously called the master business license, this is the official document you would have received from the government of Ontario when your initial business name registration application was approved. If you cannot find your original master business license, you can obtain a copy through the Ontario Business Registry

What to expect after filing a license renewal

After you’ve submitted your business name renewal application form and it has been successfully processed, you will receive your official business renewal documents by email, including a payment receipt if applicable. Master business licenses can be renewed online, by mail, or by email, with each option having a different amount of time required to process your application. When you file online, your renewal will be immediate, while email applications require seven business days, and mail applications take 15 business days to process.

Renewing a master business license in Ontario FAQ’s

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s answer the most frequently asked questions about renewing a business name registration in Ontario. 

Do master business licenses need to be renewed in Ontario?

A master business license, more commonly referred to as a business name registration for a sole proprietorship, is valid for five years before it expires. If you miss the expiry date, don’t panic: you will still have a 60-day grace period in which you can complete the renewal before your business name expires. 

What happens if you don’t renew your master business license?

If you do not complete your master business license renewal within the 60-day grace period, your business name will no longer be registered and you will have to start the process over again if you wish to continue your business activity.

How much does it cost to renew a master business license in Ontario?

The fee for a master business license renewal in Ontario is $60. It can be paid online using debit, Visa, or Mastercard, by mail with a cheque made out to the Minister of Finance, or by email with a credit card.

Now that you know everything there is to know about renewing a master business license in Ontario, you’re all set up to continue your business operations with confidence.

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