Step 1: Confirm your eligibility

To register as a collection agency, all applicants must:

  • pass a mandatory written exam (for corporate applicants, all active directors and officers must pass the exam)
  • operate from a permanent place of business in Ontario that is not a private residence
  • not be engaged directly or indirectly in the business of lending money
  • not act as a bailiff, assistant bailiff or private investigator
  • pay all applicable fees

In addition, the collection agency must employ persons with sufficient experience to qualify for registration. Applicants operating sole proprietorships must meet these requirements while corporations must have an individual involved in management who meets these requirements.

The employed individual(s) must:

  • be 18 years of age or older
  • have at least two years of experience working for a collection agency in all areas of the business, or equivalent experience.
  • must demonstrate experience in the following areas:
    • working as a collector
    • maintaining books and records for a collection agency
    • managing a trust account
    • working with debtor/creditor law(s)
    • managing/supervising collectors

Note: If your agency will be handling trust funds and/or you are renewing a registration, you must also have a trust account set up in the same name of the company exactly as noted in your application. The account must also be  designated as a “Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act- Trust Account” (we will also accept “CDSSA Trust Account”).

See sections 4-11 of the CDSSA and sections 12-16 of the General Regulation for more information about eligibility to register and operate a collection agency.

Step 2: Write and pass the mandatory exam

All active officers and directors of a collection agency must pass a mandatory exam before they can register or maintain an existing registration. The written exam fee is $10.00 and you must pass with a mark of at least 75%.

If you pass the exam, include a copy of your exam confirmation letter with your collection agency registration application package.

If you fail the exam on your first attempt, you may re-write the exam at any time. If you fail on your second attempt, you must wait 4 months before you can write your third exam and any following attempts.

The exam is also:

  • based on the requirements set out in the Collection and Debt Settlement Services Act and its regulations
  • 1 hour in length
  • may consist of multiple choice, short answer and long answer questions
  • closed book, which means that no books, briefcases or cell phones are allowed and no external references can be used

You must do the following to register to write the exam:

  • Send your résumé(s) outlining relevant experience by email to with the subject line “Resume Review for CDSSA” and indicate that you wish to register for a CDSSA exam.
  • If applicable, your collection agency experience will be confirmed during the exam registration process. In most cases, you will receive an email within 10 business days that indicates if you are eligible to write the exam.
  • Ministry staff will work with you to find a suitable date and time for your exam and to process the $10 exam fee.
  • The exam may be conducted remotely or in-person in Toronto, at the ministry’s discretion.
  • In most cases, you will receive an email with your exam results within 20 business days after writing the exam.

Step 3: Complete the application form

You will need to download, save and/or print the Collection Agency Registration application form.

Make sure to review and complete the application form carefully. Some sections of the application form may not pertain to your collection agency registration application. For example:

  • Some sections only pertain to bailiff appointment applications.
  • If your collection agency will not handle any trust funds, you do not have to complete Section 6 of the application form that pertains to trust accounts.

Ensure that the information in your application matches exactly what is listed on the corporate profile in the Ontario Business Registry. For example, Director(s) names, business addresses. This is the most common reason for delays when processing applications.

Step 4: Gather your supporting documentation

In addition to the application form, you must provide copies of the following supporting documentation:

  • letter(s) confirming that you have passed the CDSSA exam (or for corporate applicants, all active directors and officers of the agency have passed)
  • the most recent or opening financial statement prepared by a person licensed under the Public Accounting Act, 2004
  • sample demand letters, collection letters, and/or debt settlement materials you will be using when dealing with debtors
  • your business/client contract
  • your commercial tenancy lease
  • a business plan

The Registrar may also request that you provide further information or materials for your application.

Step 5: Submit your application and supporting documentation

For your application to be considered complete, you must:

  • submit an application form
  • submit all supporting documentation
  • pay all applicable registration fees, including:
    • $290 to register or renew a collection agency registration
    • $290 to register each branch office of the collection agency (if any)

Submit your completed application package by email to with the subject line “CDSSA application – your business name” (for example, “CDSSA application – Collection Company ABC”).

Step 6: Ministry reviews your application and processes the application fee

Your application is considered complete once ministry staff, acting on behalf of the Registrar, have verified you have provided all requested application information. If there is any missing information or clarification required, a ministry representative will contact you by email or telephone.

The ministry will also conduct a credit check and criminal record check for the applicant, as well as for all active directors and officers of the collection agency, as applicable.

You have the following options to pay the application fee:

  • Payments by credit card (VISA or Mastercard) can be processed over the phone by calling the Licensing Unit at 416-326-6203 or 1-800-889-9768 (toll-free).
  • Money orders and cheques (payable to “Minister of Finance”) are accepted.
  • Do not send cash or payment information, such as credit card information, by mail or email.

Step 7: Registrar reviews your application

The Registrar will review your complete application to make a decision on whether to register your collection agency.

To inform the decision, the Registrar will consider:

  • the applicant’s financial position
  • past conduct of the applicant, if applicable
  • if the applicant is a corporation, the financial position of the corporation and the past conduct of its officers or directors
  • if the applicant is carrying on activities that are, or will be – if the applicant is registered – in contravention of the CDSSA or the regulations

Step 8: Receive the results of your application

It can take between 10-50 business days to process and receive the results of your application.

The amount of time to process an application and receive your results depends on factors such as the complexity of your application, the number of other applications received, and if any follow-up is required to consider your application package to be complete.

If your application is approved by the Registrar:

  • your certificate of registration will be emailed to the email address provided on the application form
  • your collection agency registration is valid for 2 years
  • you cannot transfer your registration to another agency or person

If your application is refused by the Registrar:

  • you will receive a Notice of Proposal to Refuse your application
  • you can challenge a Notice of Proposal to Refuse by requesting a hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal