How to start a bed and breakfast in Ontario

Table of contents

Introduction
Getting started
Regulations
Taxation
Financing
Other resources

Introduction

A Bed and Breakfast, commonly known as a B&B, is a business that provides short-term accommodations in a private home or other comparable location and traditionally includes breakfast as part of the service. Accommodations can vary from one establishment to the next, as each building has its own unique characteristics. Locations that might provide B&B accommodations can range from historic buildings and cottages, to houseboats and private homes. The amenities offered by different B&B businesses can also vary. In some cases, you may have private rooms with private bathrooms, or several private rooms with shared bathrooms. B&Bs generally emphasize a high level of personalized customer service and will often be connected to local tourist attractions.

Getting started

When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:

  • Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
  • Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
  • Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST

Our business start-up guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

Read online:
Starting a Business

Regulations

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 the Canada Business Permits and Licenses Search, powered by BizPaL, to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.

Contact us:
1-888-576-4444
Permits and licences search

Municipal requirements

The local municipal government may classify a B&B under another type of industry. You can contact your local municipality to verify how your business will be classified and what regulations will apply to you (for example a Food Handler license).

Additionally, most municipalities also require a building permit before alterations or new construction begins. It is important to check zoning regulations before signing any binding contracts and to obtain the necessary building permit(s) before beginning alterations or new construction.

Read online:
Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Some common licenses, permits and regulations that may apply to your bed and breakfast include:

Food safety and labelling

Your local health unit is the main contact for information on food safety. Local health authorities are responsible for carrying out food service inspections.

You should contact your local health authority and arrange an inspection of the premises, equipment and processes to make sure your business is complying with provincial and federal legislation.

The following link provides contact information for local health authorities that perform inspections on restaurants and food businesses in Ontario.

Read online:
Local public health contacts

In addition to contacting your local health unit, if you are involved in the production, service or processing of food products, you will need to comply with safety standards and labelling regulations from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

Contact CFIA:
1-800-442-2342
Regulated products and sectors

Contact OMAFRA:
1-877-424-1300
Regulations for the food industry

Smoke-Free Ontario

The Ontario government prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places. Find out what your responsibilities are, what is required for inspections and how to get “No Smoking” signs.

Contact your local Public Health Unit:
Public Health Unit Locations
Smoke-Free Ontario – How the Act Affects You

Building and fire codes

As a provider of accommodations you will likely need to meet additional requirements under the Ontario Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code to ensure the safety of your guests. You can contact your local Fire Department and Municipal Building Department to make sure that your business premises meets all local safety requirements.

Contact the Ontario Fire Marshal:
Ontario Fire Marshal Regional Offices

Music licence

When your business uses recorded music, you are responsible for obtaining the right licence(s) for that use. The Copyright Board of Canada works with individual copyright collective societies who provide music licensing. Contact the following two organizations for more information.

Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) Music Licence

SOCAN is a not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of music creators and music publishers. They can help you learn about your obligations and obtaining the required license(s).

Contact SOCAN:
1-800-557-6226
Tariffs & forms - Music in a business

Re:Sound Music Licensing Company

Re:Sound is the Canadian not-for-profit organization that represents the performance rights of artists and record companies, and provides the legally required license(s) for businesses. You can get help determining what licence(s) will be required, what the licensing process will be and how much it will cost.

Contact Re:Sound:
1-877-309-5770
Re:Sound

Travel and accommodation services

If you arrange transportation or sleeping accommodation for your clients, you may need to register with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). Examples of activities that can include regulated travel and accommodation services:

  • Tours
  • Retreats
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Fieldtrips

To find out more about activities that require registration, contact TICO or visit their website.

Contact TICO:
1-888-451-8426
Industry Guidelines

Legal questions

If you have legal questions, contact a lawyer who deals with business regulations. The Law Society of Upper Canada's Law Society Referral Service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service

Taxation

Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

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.

Contact CRA:
1-800-959-5525
Canada Revenue Agency

Additional Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) information for Bed and Breakfast owners in Ontario

The Canada Revenue Agency also provides information on the following HST requirements and rebates that could apply to your business.

Contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA):
1-800-959-5525

Operating a Bed and Breakfast in your home

Find out how the HST applies to operating a bed and breakfast in your home.

Read online:
GI-007 Operating a Bed and Breakfast in Your Home

HST New Housing Rebate

You may be eligible for the HST new housing rebate if you bought or built a bed and breakfast.

Read online:
GST/HST New Housing Rebate

HST Information for the Travel and Convention Industry

Learn how to charge the HST on accommodations, tour packages and passenger transportation services. You can also get information about HST rebates that may be available to non‑residents for eligible tour packages.

Read online:
RC4036 GST/HST Information for the Travel and Convention Industry

Sales by Individuals of Owner-Occupied Homes

Find answers to common questions and how the HST may apply to the sale of owner-occupied homes, including those operated as bed and breakfast businesses.

Read online:
GI-004 Sales by Individuals of Owner-Occupied Homes

Financing

Canada Business can help you find government financing options for your business. There are programs that apply to businesses across Canada, and others that apply only to businesses in Ontario. Use the Canada Business financing search tool or browse by type of financing.

Search online:
Canada Business: Government grants and financing

Tourism Development Fund

If you are a tourism professional, you may be eligible for financial support for innovation, training, and improving the investment readiness of your business.

Contact the Investment and Development Office: 
416-325-5306 
Tourism Development Fund 

Other resources

Managing

From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.

Associations

Bed and Breakfast associations may provide information on accommodation rating services in addition to other resources and networking opportunities. If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.

Industry specific information

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 at 1-888-576-4444.