If you are a new Canadian or permanent resident in Canada, and are interested in starting your own business, this guide provides some of the basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario. You can also find resources and organizations that offer services and programs for newcomers to Canada. Starting your own business can be a rewarding experience, and understanding what is required can help you succeed.
Note: If you are not a new Canadian or permanent resident and are interested in business immigration, you can read Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s information on the Business Immigration Program.
If you plan to invest or do business in Canada but not immigrate to Canada, other rules will apply. You can find more information in our Foreign Investment Guide.
Three of the most important questions to consider before starting a business as a newcomer to Canada are:
If you are uncertain of your legal status in Canada and have questions, you can contact Citizenship and Immigration (CIC) to find out if you are legally entitled to work in Canada. CIC is the only department that can officially inform you of your status.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
The Government of Canada’s Working in Canada website has an online tool and information to help you identify the name of your occupation in Canada. You can also get an online report that outlines the regulations, duties, skill requirements and wage rates for your occupation in Ontario.
If your occupation is regulated and you need a licence or certification to work in Ontario, contact the listed department or organization to discuss the requirements. Your foreign credentials may need to be evaluated before they will be recognized, and you may need training before you can work in Canada. Because these regulations can affect your business plan, make sure you know the requirements before you start.
Working in Canada - An Interactive Tool
The following resources from the federal government and inter-governmental organizations may also help you assess your foreign credentials:
The Government of Ontario’s Ontario Immigration website provides a number of information resources on trades and professions in the province. Once you have created a Working in Canada report, you can use it to find additional certification and regulation information from the Working in Ontario search tool on the Ontario Immigration website.
Working in Ontario
The Ontario Immigration website also offers information on:
For more information you can visit the following Ontario Immigration links:
If you are an internationally trained individual looking to work in your field, you can speak with Global Experience Ontario’s knowledgeable staff to learn more about the licensing and registration process in Ontario.
Contact Global Experience Ontario:
Global Experience Ontario
Find detailed information on the certification, licensing and registration process for health care providers or Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs). You can also access free services by registering on the Access Centre website.
You can find general information for new immigrants to Ontario, as well as information on education and credentials. Information is available in several languages.
In My Language - Welcome to Ontario
Before starting a business in Ontario, there are several issues to consider, such as regulations, financing, and taxation. You can start by writing a business plan that can be used to:
Read our Business Plan Guide to find out more about business planning. The guide is available in over 10 languages.
As part of the planning and start-up process, you will need to choose a business structure, business name and business location. The following multilingual documents will give you more information on each of these topics.
Once you have your plan in place, there may be licensing, registration and tax accounts that you will need to set up. Our business start-up guide will give you more information on the basic steps to follow when starting a business.
Business Start-Up Guide
Choose your language below to read more “Business Basics” titles from the Canada Business Ontario multilingual collection:
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL—an online search tool—to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact the Business Info Line to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and Licences Wizard
Contact the Business Info Line:
If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer, based on your needs.
Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
Law Society of Upper Canada's Lawyer Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12 month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency – Business
When you hire employees, there are regulations and standards that you need to follow. Most types of businesses will have to:
To learn about the requirements for hiring employees, read our Employment Regulations Guide: Hiring.
Information on the basic requirements for safety in the workplace is available in several languages.
Contact the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB):
WSIB - Fact Sheets for Employer (multilingual)
Get information about your role as an employer in creating a safe workplace for your employees.
WSIB - Fact Sheets for Prevention (multilingual)
Find out how you can help prevent accidents in the workplace.
WSIB - Occupational Disease Fact Sheets (multilingual)
Learn about the commons types of injuries and diseases that can occur in the workplace.
Some of the information on Employment Standards and other regulations for hiring employees is available in several languages.
ARABIC | BENGALI | CHINESE (TRADITIONAL) | CHINESE (SIMPLIFIED) | CROATIAN | DARI | FARSI | GREEK | GUJARATI | HINDI | ITALIAN | KOREAN | POLISH | PORTUGUESE | PUNDJABI | RUSSIAN | SERBIAN | SPANISH | TAGALOG | TAMIL | TURKISH | URDU | VIETNAMESE
You can find information on employment programs like wage subsidies and apprenticeship programs for businesses on the Employment Ontario website. Some of the information is available in several languages.
Contact Employment Ontario:
ARABIC | CHINESE (TRADITONAL) | FARSI | GERMAN | GREEK | GUJURATI | HINDI | ITALIAN | KOREAN | POLISH | PORTUGUESE | PUNJABI | ROMANIAN | RUSSIAN | SPANISH | TAGALOG | TAMIL | UKRAINIAN | URDU | VIETNAMESE
As part of your business activities you may decide to import or export your supplies or products. In order to bring goods and services into Canada or send them to other countries, you need to be aware of the regulations for importing and exporting, including:
These requirements will vary for different countries and products. When you choose to export or import, ensure that your business meets all the requirements.
For other information that relates to starting your business, you can read the following guides:
Additional links that may be of interest to newcomer entrepreneurs include:
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us through the Business Info Line at 1-888-745-8888.
Information contained in this document is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute advice for any specific situation. Users concerned about the reliability of the information should consult directly with the source, or seek legal counsel.
Some of the organizations listed above are not subject to the federal Official Languages Act or the French Language Services Act of Ontario. Their services may not be available in both official languages.