Business Start-Up the Right Way

When setting up a new business, there are certain things that a new business owner should know and do in order to have his/her business start on the right foot.

Below is a comlete checklist that most businesses should follow when organizing their operations. You can also download a MS Word copy of this checklist here.

Checklist Item



Business Name

Choose a business name. Options are:

  • Descriptive Name
  • Numbered Name

Verify name availability by doing NUANS name search. Contact ESC for details.

Names have to be reserved in some Jurisdictions. If such requirement exists in the Jurisdiction of your choice, get your name reserved. Reserved names are generally protected and available for use for 90 days.


Register Business

Common Business Forms are:

  • Corporation – is a legal “person” separate from you. Corporation can have its own assets, borrow money, sue and be sued. Liability of a corporation is separated from your own liability to a great degree (some exceptions apply. Contact your lawyer for specifics)
  • Sole Proprietorship – is a legal entity that is the same as you, but operated under a different name than yours. You and your sole proprietorship share assets. It cannot borrow money on its own. Liability is not separate from yours.
  • Partnership – is a legal entity that has shared ownership between two or more people or companies. Liabilities are also shared between owners.

To understand differences in benefits these forms of business offer, contact your lawyer or accountant.

Contact ESC for details about how to quickly register a corporation. Same day registrations available for most Jurisdictions. Online registrations are also available with instant “registered” status issuance.


(EP) License

If your corporation is federal, it needs to have at least one EP licence in another Jurisdiction in order to legally operate in that jurisdiction.

A provincial corporation can also have an EP licence in another jurisdiction in which it wants to operate.

ESC supports all kinds of EP licence registrations. Contact ESC for details.


Operating Licenses

There are Municipal and Provincial Licenses that may need to be obtain in order to operate legally. There is a great tool that can help you quickly generate a list of permits and licenses that you may need:

  • Municipal Licensing. Licenses are required for many types of business in Toronto which may not be required outside the city. We advise that you contact Municipality where you are intending on doing the business for details. In Toronto, operating licenses are issued by Municipal Licensing and Standards Division.
  • Provincial Licensing. Under the Business Practices Act, licenses are required in many areas, such as drug, forestry, real estate, travel, day care, liquor sales, gas stations, transportation. Visit Canada Business website for more details.


Zoning and Bulding

Zoning restrictions are often placed on specific locations of certain types of business activity. Before leasing or purchasing a property for your business, it is important to determine that the intended business use is allowed on the property.If you plan to undergo a new construction of your business property, such action will require a building permit. Obtain Building Permit Application.Zoning and Building inquiries need to be made in person only at the following locations:North: North York Civic Center, 5100 Yonge Street.
South: Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West.
East: Scarborough Civic Center, 150 Borough Drive.
West: Etobicoke Civic Center, 2 Civic Center Court.



HST is Harmonized Sales Tax. Businesses with annual revenue of over or is equal to $30,000 have to charge their customers 13% HST and remit it to Canada Revenue Agency. For those whose revenue is less than $30,000, participation in HST is optional.No separate HST account registration needs to be done for businesses who already have a GST account. Contact Canada Revenue Agencyfor details on HST accounts or call them at 1-800-959-5525.For information on what is taxable under HST visit Ontario Ministry of Revenue.



There are specific employment regulations with which you have to comply if you will have employees:

Canada Revenue Agency offers Employer’s Kits. Order Kit by calling 1-800-959-2221.

EHT – Employer Health Tax – is a payroll tax applied to all employees in Ontario. Employees with a permanent establishment in Ontario who are not exempt must register for the EHT. Important to note that eligible employees are exempt from paying EHT for the first $400,000 of payroll.

Ontario Health Premium – Ontario employees on pay since July 1, 2004 pay Ontario Health Premium tax which is deducted from their personal income tax. Visit

WSIB – Workplace Safety and Insurance Board –all businesses that employ workers in Ontario must register with the WSIB within 10 days of hiring their first full time or part time worker. Call 416-344-1000 to request your WSIB kit.


Health Inspection

For businesses that are in food preparation field, or work with water and sanitation facilities, there is a requirement to ensure compliance with the Ministry of Health Regulations. Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.

Download MS Word copy here. Visit our website.

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