How to start an artisan and craft business in Ontario

Table of contents

Introduction
Getting started
Regulations
Taxation
Financing
Other resources

Introduction

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

Read online:
Business start-up guide

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

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:
Trade-mark
Copyright

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

Labelling

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:
1-800-348-5358
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 or upholstered and stuffed articles. The Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) regulates these types of products and also performs inspections of your premises and registers renovators, manufacturers and retailers.

Contact the TSSA:
1-877-682-8772
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:
1-866-346-8722
Dealers in precious metals and stones

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 Canada Business Ontario:
1-888-576-4444
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
A guide to exporting cultural property from Canada

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

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.

Contact the Law Society of Upper Canada:
1-800-268-8326
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 – Business

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.

You can also access Canada Business information through the ONe-Source online financing wizard. The wizard guides you through 3 easy steps to create a personalized list of results for Ontario business financing programs.

Search online:
Canada Business: Government grants and financing
ONe-Source Ontario Business Financing Guide

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:
1-888-997-9015
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:
1-800-263-5588
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:
416-925-4222
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:
1-888-745-8888
Summer Company

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:
1-866-811-0055
Funding Opportunities

Other resources

Managing

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

Industry specific information

Associations

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 Canada Business Ontario (CBO) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.