On October 19, 2021, the government of Ontario introduced a new Ontario Business Registry that will streamline access for organizations that are registered, incorporated or licensed to carry on business in Ontario, “making it easier, simpler, and more affordable for millions of businesses and not-for-profit corporations to interact with the government.” The new online registry replaces out-dated technology and will now provide individuals across the province with direct access to government services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Benefits of the New Online Business Registry System
According to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Ross Romano:
“The new system will provide a modern, streamlined digital platform that saves business owners’ time by limiting the need for in-person interactions and cumbersome paperwork.”
Specifically, for the first time ever, businesses will be able to use the new registry to complete over 90 transactions, including registering a new business, dissolving an existing business, incorporating, ordering search products, and filing an annual return. Registrations and filings can now be instantly completed through the online registry, with users receiving automatic email notices with electronic attachments. Previously, such registration and filings that were submitted by mail or fax would take four to six weeks to complete and required the use of paper documents. The filing of annual returns will also be migrated from the Canada Revenue Agency to the new online registry, allowing businesses to keep all their filings in one place.
Using the Online Business Registry
Who Can Use the Registry?
All corporations filing under the Business Corporations Act, the Business Names Act, the Corporations Act, the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010, the Corporations Information Act, the Extra-Provincial Corporations Act, the Partnerships Act, and the Limited Partnerships Act will be able to use the Registry for filings.
Accessing Your Existing Business or Not-For-Profit Corporation
Corporations that are already registered or incorporated in Ontario will automatically have a Registry profile when the site launches. To access a business or not-for-profit corporation profile or make a filing under the business statutes, you will need its company key.
You can get your company key here.
Once you have your company key, you can use it to log in here.
Create a New Business Entity or Not-for-Profit Corporation
If your business or not-for-profit corporation is new and does not already have a profile in the Ontario Business Registry, you will need to create a new business entity or not-for-profit corporation. You must get a company key to access the system, as described above.
You can register a business name for a sole proprietorship, incorporate an Ontario business corporation or not-for-profit corporation, here. Or you can access other options for new business entities, such as incorporating a business, continuing as a business corporation transferring to another jurisdiction, applying for a license for a foreign corporation, and filing an initial return for an extra-provincial corporation here.
If you are incorporating a business or not-for-profit and are proposing a name that you have chosen yourself, you must get an Ontario-biased Nuans Report to confirm that no existing Ontario corporation has the same name or a name that’s similar to the one you are proposing.
Searching for a Business or a Not-for-Profit Corporation
Anyone can do a free search of the Ontario Business Registry to get basic information about a business or not-for-profit corporation. Once you find the profile of a business entity you want to know more about, you can choose to order a search product (for example, a detailed profile report) to get additional information about that entity.
Services that are currently provided by Dye & Durham Corporation and ESC Corporate Services Ltd. will continue to be offered when the Ontario Business Registry launches. To order a search product, other than for your own corporation, one of these government service providers must be used.
Other Types of Businesses
To order a search product for your own entity or an entity that is not a corporation (for example, sole proprietorship, partnership), you can choose to go through one of the above service providers or direct through the government look for the “Search Products” drop-down list in the entity’s profile in the Ontario Business Registry.
Law, Accounting and Search Firms
A business entity or not-for-profit corporation may hire a law, accounting or search firm (referred to as an intermediary) to transact on its behalf. Currently, intermediaries can transact via authorized service provider or by mail. At this point in time, they cannot transact directly in the Ontario Business Registry, however future system updates will address online access for intermediaries.
The following qualified intermediaries can continue to transact via email:
- lawyers and paralegals governed by the Law Society of Ontario
- Chartered Professional Accountants governed by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario
- law clerks filing under the direction and guidance of a lawyer governed by the Law Society of Ontario
- members of the Ontario Association of Professional Searchers of Records who regularly file with the ministry on behalf of corporations and other entities, law firms and accounting firms
The Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010 Came into Force with the Registry
The Not-for-Profit Corporations Act, 2010 received Royal Assent on October 25, 2010 but was not able to come into force until the Ontario Business Registry launched. The Not-for-Profit Corporations Act provides a modern legislative framework for Ontario’s not-for-profit corporations. The legislation moves not-for-profit corporations from a paper-based filing system to a digital one thereby reducing the bureaucratic burden on these organizations and enhancing flexibility.
Not-for-profits will have three years after the Not-for-Profit Corporations Act’s proclamation to transition to the new rules. In the meantime, not-for-profits rules in articles and bylaws will continue to be valid under the previous governing legislation, the Ontario Corporations Act.
The government is currently engaging with intermediaries such as legal professionals, accountants, and search firms to gather information to support future alignment and their use of the Ontario Business Registry will begin in September 2021.
Contact the Business Lawyers at Prudent Law in Mississauga for Skilled Assistance with Corporate Law Matters
The business lawyers at Prudent Law in Mississauga are trusted professionals who can assist your corporation in streamlining its governance practices to ensure maximum efficiency. We provide practical advice on all corporate law matters. If you have a question about the new Ontario Business Registry system or have another corporate law issue you’d like to discuss it with one of our experienced corporate lawyers, please call us at 905-361-9789 or contact us online.