Buying tickets to events in Ontario
Learn about how Ontario laws and rules protect you when you buy tickets to your favourite music, sports and theatrical events.
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Rules and exemptions
The rules for the sale of tickets to events in Ontario, outlined in the Ticket Sales Act, seek to promote fairness, transparency and consumer protection in Ontario’s ticket industry by preventing ticket fraud and providing consumers with more information when purchasing tickets.
When making a ticket available for sale or facilitating the sale of a ticket, ticket businesses are required to disclose:
- The face value of the ticket and total price to be charged for the ticket, including a separately itemized list of any applicable fees, service charges and taxes.
- All amounts in ticket offers are required to be listed and charged in Canadian currency.
- The seat location of the ticket, if applicable;
If an event is cancelled, you may get a refund for your tickets in some situations.
There are some situations when you would not get a refund. Refunds for incidental costs, such as hotels, would be up to the accommodation provider and are not the responsibility of the promoter.
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Buying tickets on the primary market
Before making any tickets to an event available for sale, primary sellers are required to publicly disclose information about how the tickets will be distributed, including pre-sales, as well as the capacity for the event.
Buying tickets on the secondary market
There are a number of rules that people reselling tickets on the secondary market must follow. These rules have been put in place to protect you, the consumer, and help ensure you have the information you need when making a purchase.
For example, in Ontario it is illegal for anyone, including individuals and ticket businesses, to:
- make available for sale a ticket that is not in their possession or control
- resell a ticket for more than its face value without either:
- offering either a money-back guarantee in writing
- written confirmation from the primary seller that the ticket is valid
All businesses that sell or facilitate the sale of tickets to events in Ontario are subject to these rules, regardless of where they are based. The law requires that ticket businesses either be incorporated in Ontario or Canada, or maintain an address in Ontario.
The sale of tickets to events at certain types of small venues (including schools, churches, and municipal buildings) where those events are held by a school board, municipality or community organization are exempt from the above rules. In addition, the sale of tickets to a film shown by a licensed film exhibitor (a person licensed under Ontario law to show films to the public or for direct or indirect gain) is exempt.
Before you buy
Whether you buy from a website or an individual, we recommend you:
- Make an informed decision about how much you want to pay. When offering to sell a ticket, ticket businesses are required to display the face value and total price of the ticket, including any applicable fees, service charges and taxes, as well as the seat location of the ticket. All amounts in the ticket offer must be listed and charged in Canadian currency.
- If buying a ticket on the secondary market, have the person selling you the ticket provide a written confirmation from the primary seller that the ticket is valid, or a written money-back guarantee from the secondary seller if you cannot use the ticket to access the event.
Ontario law bans the use and sale of ticket-buying software (also known as "ticket bots" or "bots") and knowingly selling or facilitating the sale of tickets that were purchased using bots.
A violation of the bots prohibition, as with other provisions of the Ticket Sales Act, is a provincial offence, with a maximum penalty of a fine of $50, 000 and/or imprisonment for a term of two years less a day for individuals, and a fine of $250, 000 for corporations.
Contact Consumer Protection Ontario to report the use of ticket bots.
Glossary of terms
- Primary seller
- A person or organization that is engaged in the business of making tickets available for sale (other than a secondary seller). This includes the owner of the place to which a ticket provides admission (the event venue), the promoter of the event occurring at that place, and any agent of those persons.
- Secondary seller / reseller
- A person or organization that is engaged in the business of making tickets available for sale that were originally made available by a primary seller.
- Secondary ticketing platform / resale platform
- A website, online service, electronic application, print publication or physical location that facilitates the sale of tickets by providing ticket sellers, other than primary sellers, with a venue to make their tickets available for sale.
- Ticket business
- A primary seller, a secondary seller or an operator of a secondary ticketing platform.
- Face value
- The base price and any applicable fees or service charges, excluding taxes, paid by a ticket purchaser when the ticket was purchased from the primary seller.
- Ticket bot
- Software, including automated ticket purchasing software, designed to circumvent security measures or control systems that are used to ensure an equitable ticket buying process on a website, online service or electronic application.
For questions about Ontario ticket sales or to file a complaint about ticket sales practices, including complaints about the use of ticket bots, please contact Consumer Protection Ontario:
Phone: (from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)
416-229-6086(Toronto area) or 1-877-666-6545(toll free)