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How to start an artisan and craft business in Ontario

Table of contents

Getting started
Other resources


The artisanal and craft industries are comprised of many disciplines, and can include a number of professions, from sculptors or quilters, to jewellery-maker or a mechanic who custom-designs vehicles. Artisanal businesses and craft businesses produce a wide variety of products ranging from unique handmade artistic items to mass-produced collectibles or specialty items. In fact, any business creating and selling products made with a “personal touch" could be defined as an artisanal or craft business.

Note: This guide does not address the specific requirements for starting and running an artisanal food business. However, Small Business Services has created a guide to give you more information about the food services industry.

Read online:
How to Start a Restaurant or Catering Business in Ontario

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 Starting a Business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

Read online:
Starting a Business


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 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:
Permits and licences search

Common regulations that can apply to an arts business include:

Intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to the legal rights to ideas, inventions and creations in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. It also covers symbols, names, images, designs and models used in a business.

Trade-marks and copyright

If you want to protect an artistic, dramatic, musical or literary work - including computer programs and performance or sound recordings - you may wish to apply for a trade-mark or copyright.

Read online:

Product safety and labelling

When you are selling, importing/exporting or manufacturing products, you are responsible for ensuring safety standards are met and your products are labelled properly.

Consumer product safety

If you manufacture, import, distribute or sell goods in Canada, find out what you need to do to ensure that your products are safe.

Read online:
For Industry: Canada Consumer Product Safety Act


You will need to be aware of the regulations for business owners if you are labelling goods produced domestically or imported into Canada.

Contact the Competition Bureau:
Labelling Corner

Hazardous products

If you manufacture, sell or import consumer goods such as (but not limited to) products for children, textiles for clothing or flooring, or paints and modelling materials, you need to be aware of your legal responsibilities.

Read Online:
Marketing, advertising and sales regulations

Technical standards and safety

You need to be aware of your legal responsibilities if your business deals with items such as (but not limited to), amusement devices, boilers and pressure vessels, elevating devices or fuels. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates these types of products and also performs inspections of your premises.

Contact the TSSA:
Technical Standards and Safety Authority

Precious metals and stones

Anyone creating products that contain precious metals and/or stones should be aware of the regulations for marking and selling them.

Precious metals marking

Make sure any products you create with precious metals (articles made with gold, silver, platinum or palladium) meet the requirements for marking. Precious metals marking helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions.

Read online:
Guide to the Precious Metals Marking Act and Regulations

Dealers in precious metals and stones

If you buy and sell precious metals and stones, you may have obligations under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. To find out what requirements may apply to you, contact the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, (FINTRAC).

Contact FINTRAC:
Dealers in precious metals and stones

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:
Resources and guidelines

Importing/Exporting products

If you plan to import goods into Canada or export goods to other countries, you need to be aware of the regulations for international trade.

Contact Small Business Services:
Exporting regulations
Importing regulations

Exporting cultural property

If your product is on the Canadian Cultural Property Export Control List, you will need an export permit and may need to follow additional regulations.

Read online:
Canadian cultural property export control list
Cultural property export permits

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 licence(s).

Contact SOCAN:
Music licence finder for 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 licence(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:

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service


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:
Canada Revenue Agency


Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Grow your business

Grants, subsidies and contributions - Arts and media

Find grant and subsidy programs available to businesses involved in arts and media, including programs offered or supported by the governments of Canada and Ontario.

Read online:
Grants, subsidies and contributions - Arts and media

Other common sources of financing for arts and craft businesses include:

Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport

If you are a member of the creative industries, or an arts and cultural group, you can access funding and operating grants to help your business grow.

Contact the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Tourism:
Grants and awards

Jean A. Chalmers Fund for the Crafts

Your non-profit organization may be eligible for funding to develop projects that promote the fine crafts industry in Canada.

Contact the Canada Council for the Arts:
Jean A. Chalmers Fund for the Crafts

Craft Ontario

As a member of Craft Ontario, you could be eligible for up to $7,000 through an annual program of awards and scholarships for students and craft professionals.

Contact Craft Ontario:
Craft Awards

Summer Company

If you are a student between the ages of 15-29, you could receive up to $3,000 to start and run your own business.

Contact Summer Company:
Summer Company

Starter Company Plus

If you are an Ontario resident aged 18 and over and not attending school full time, you may be eligible to apply for funding of up to $5,000 to start or expand your business. You could also receive:

  • One-on-one guidance from a business advisor
  • Mentoring from a local entrepreneur
  • Training through business workshops
  • Business experience that could help you obtain other traditional financing

You need to contribute 25% of the grant in cash or in kind. Other conditions apply.

Read online:
Starter Company Plus

Canadian Heritage

If you are a member of the Arts and Cultural industries, you may be eligible for Canadian Heritage's funding opportunities.

Contact Canadian Heritage:
Funding and Assistance Programs

Other resources


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

Industry specific information


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. 

You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Small Business Services (SBS) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.