Incorporating a business corporation
How to incorporate a business corporation in Ontario.
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Articles of Incorporation, Form 1 under the Ontario Business Corporations Act (OBCA) must be completed and filed to incorporate a business corporation in Ontario.
Methods of incorporation
There are three service delivery choices available to clients who wish to incorporate a business corporation in Ontario:
- File Articles of Incorporation electronically via the Internet through one of the Service Providers under contract with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
- For over-the-counter service, articles may be filed in person at the Toronto office or at some Land Registry/ServiceOntario offices in Ontario (See the “Offices That Endorse Articles Submitted Under the Business Corporations Act” information sheet). The information sheet is available online at ServiceOntario.ca.
- Submit Articles of Incorporation by mail to the Central Production and Verification Services Branch, 393 University Avenue, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2M2.
Electronic filing of Articles of Incorporation, OBCA Form 1, is available through Service Providers under contract with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The Ministry’s fee to file Articles of Incorporation electronically is $300. The Service Providers charge an additional fee for the immediate online service they provide.
For more information about service providers visit:
Incorporation in person or by mail
To incorporate a business corporation in Ontario, the following documentation must be submitted:
- Articles of Incorporation (Form 1 approved by the Minister under the Regulations to the Business Corporations Act), completed in duplicate and bearing original signatures on both copies.
- Ontario-based NUANS (for a proposed name). NUANS is a computerized search system that compares a proposed corporate name or trade-mark with databases of existing corporate bodies and trade-marks. This comparison determines the similarity that exists between the proposed name or mark and existing names in the database, and produces a listing of names that are found to be most similar. A NUANS search is not required if incorporating a number company.
- Fee of $360. Make cheque payable to the Minister of Finance.
- Covering letter giving a contact name, return address and telephone number. If a future date of incorporation (up to 30 days ahead) is required it must be set out in the covering letter.
- Other support documents, if required (e.g. legal opinion). Note: Consent to Act as First Director is no longer required to be filed with the Branch but it must be kept at the corporation’s registered office.
You can download the following forms from our Central Forms Repository:
You may also buy the forms from most legal stationers or name search houses. Legal stationers and name search houses are listed in the Yellow Pages under “Legal Forms” and “Searchers of Records” respectively.
Unless the corporation will have a number name, an original Ontario-biased NUANS name search report must be obtained from a private name search company and be submitted with the Articles of Incorporation. The NUANS report cannot be dated more than 90 days prior to the submission of the articles. For example, articles submitted on November 28th could be accompanied by a NUANS name search report dated as early as August 30th, but not dated earlier. The Companies and Personal Property Security Branch does not provide this search.
Suppliers are listed in the Yellow Pages under the heading “Searchers of Records” or visit Industry Canada’s NUANS site at, nuans.com for a list of registered search houses that can assist you with obtaining a NUANS search report and filing your corporate documents with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.
Please be advised that the Branch cannot give legal advice. This information is intended as a general guide only. For further assistance or legal information, please consult private legal counsel.
If you need a lawyer, you may wish to contact the Law Society Referral Service of the Law Society of Upper Canada. You will be referred to a lawyer for up to one half-hour free legal consultation. You must be 18 years of age to access this service. The Law Society Referral Service can be reached by telephoning 1-800-268-8326.
Please refer to the Business Corporations Act for details governing business corporations in Ontario. The Business Corporations Act is available on the Internet at ontario.ca/laws or can be purchased through Publications Ontario at 416-326-5300 or toll-free at 1-800-668-9938. The website for Publications Ontario is publications.serviceontario.ca.
It is the responsibility of the incorporators to ensure the name for an Ontario business corporation complies with the Business Corporations Act and its Regulations.
The word “Limited”, “Limitée”, “Incorporated”, “Incorporée” or “Corporation” or the corresponding abbreviations “Ltd.”, “Ltée”, “Inc.” or “Corp.” shall be part of the name of every corporation, but a corporation may be legally designated by either the full or the abbreviated form (S.10 (1)).
The name of a corporation may be in an English form only, a French form only, an English and a French form combined, or an English form and a French form which are equivalent but used separately (S.10 (2)).
When incorporating a corporation with an English and French form of the name a name search is required for each form of the name (English and French) unless the English and French forms of the name are identical and the legal element in the French form is the French version of the legal element in the English form (for example, ‘incorporee’ and ‘incorporated’). There should be a forward slash (/) separating the two forms of the name.
Versions in languages other than English
A corporation may have in its articles, a special provision permitting it to set out its name in any language and the corporation may be legally designated by that name (S.10 (4)). This would allow the corporation to legally use a foreign version of its corporate name for the purposes of conducting business. However, the foreign version would not be entered into the Branch’s electronic database (ONBIS) and, therefore, would not appear on a Certificate of Status produced in respect of the corporation name. Despite subsection (4), a corporation shall set out its name in legible characters in all contracts, invoices, negotiable instruments and orders for goods or services issued or made by or on behalf of the corporation and in all documents sent to the Director under this Act (S.10(5)).
A corporation may only acquire a name identical to that of another corporation if it meets the requirements of Sections 6(1) or 6(2) of Regulation 62 under the Business Corporations Act.
Except as provided in subsection (2) and section 10, no corporation may acquire a name identical to the name or former name of another body corporate, whether in existence or not unless, (a) the body corporate was incorporated under the laws of a jurisdiction outside Ontario and has never carried on any activities or identified itself in Ontario; or (b) at least ten years have elapsed since the body corporate was dissolved or changed its name.
Note: that although a Federal corporation with an identical name to a proposed Ontario corporate name may not be currently operating or active in Ontario it is entitled to commence activities in Ontario at any time in the future. Incorporators who incorporate with the same or similar name are therefore assuming the risk of an objection to their corporate name, which may result in a name hearing under section 12 of the Business Corporations Act.
Before the name can be duplicated under Subsection 6(2), Central Production and Verification Services Branch requires that a legal opinion accompany the articles being filed. The legal opinion must be on legal letterhead and must be signed by an individual lawyer (not a law clerk or law firm). It must also clearly indicate that the corporations involved comply with Section 6(2) by referring to each clause specifically.
Under Section 10 of the Regulations the name of a corporation formed by the amalgamation of two or more corporations may be identical to the name of one of its amalgamating corporations, if the name is not a number name.
Requirement for a name that is not identical
Corporation names can be duplicated only if the name is not a number name and only in the case of an amalgamation, or where the corporations comply with S.6 (1) or S.6 (2) of Regulation 62. All other instances prohibit the use of a name for a corporation that is identical to the name or former name of another corporation, whether the corporation is active or not (S.6 (1) of Regulation 62).
In order to acquire a name that is not identical, the name may be varied by the addition or deletion of words, numerals, or initials, or by substituting one of the other required legal elements or their corresponding abbreviations.
The addition or deletion of punctuation marks or other symbols is not sufficient to make the name different for the purposes of the Act (S.7 of Regulation 62).
Note: that under the Business Corporations Act, incorporators are responsible for ensuring that Articles conform to law. Under the policy of Endorsement as of Right, the Branch does not review proposed corporation names for similarity to any other name. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the corporation name is not confusingly similar to that of another corporation, business name or trademark. A corporation that acquires a name similar to that of another corporation may be subject to a names hearing under Section 12 of the Business Corporations Act or a lawsuit.
If an applicant wishes to incorporate with a number name, a name search is not required. The Central Production and Verification Services Branch will assign a number. When completing the forms leave 9 empty boxes (for the number) and then the word “Ontario” followed by a legal element (see above).
Other business names
A corporation may carry on its business activities under a name other than its corporate name, provided that the name is registered under the Business Names Act. For more information about registering the operating name see the “Registering Your Business Name in Ontario” information sheet.
The directors shall manage or supervise the management of the business and affairs of the corporation. The board of directors of a corporation must consist of at least one individual, and in the case of an offering corporation, not fewer than three individuals (S.115 (2)).
The Articles of Incorporation may set out a fixed number of directors or a minimum and maximum number of directors (floating board), but each director must be at least 18 years of age (S.118 (1)).
Note that all business corporations must be authorized to issue shares. Therefore, Article 6, “The classes and any maximum number of shares that the corporation is authorized to issue,” of the Articles of Incorporation form must be completed (e.g. “unlimited common shares”).
When Articles are filed with the Central Production and Verification Services Branch they are endorsed with a certificate and are effective on the date set out in the certificate. Articles cannot be endorsed until all requirements under the Business Corporations Act have been met under the policy of Endorsement as of Right.
An effective date of up to 30 days later than the earliest date the Articles can be endorsed may be requested in writing on a cover letter using bold or highlighted letters, upon submission of the Articles to the Branch. If you are presenting your Articles in person and require a future effective date, you must verbally bring this request to the attention of the counter clerk who endorses your Articles.
Ontario corporation number (OCN)
Upon incorporation, the Branch assigns every corporation a number, which is unique to that corporation. It cannot be transferred to another corporation, nor can a corporation ever change its corporation number. When corporations amalgamate, the amalgamated corporation is assigned a new number.
Corrections to documents
Any changes or corrections made to documents prior to submission to the Central Production and Verification Services Branch may be crossed out and/or added bearing the initials of the appropriate officer of the corporation authorized to make changes. However, no visible corrections are permitted on page 1 of the Articles. Liquid paper corrections are not acceptable; however, corrected pages can be photocopied as long as they bear original signatures. Documents must be clearly legible at all times.
The proclamation of the professional incorporation provisions allowing a number of regulated professionals to incorporate their practices in Ontario occurred on November 1, 2001.
The Business Corporations Act allows a number of regulated professionals to incorporate their practices. The following professions are eligible to operate a professional corporation:
- Chartered accountants
- Certified general accountants
- Health professionals regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act
- Social workers and social service workers
Although framework legislation is in effect, the ability to practice by means of a professional corporation will depend on whether the profession in question has had the necessary regulations and by-laws enacted. It is important that regulated professionals who wish to incorporate their practices consult with their governing body for conditions of incorporation specific to their profession and timing of implementation.
Regulated professionals who wish to incorporate their practices have the same service delivery options listed above and must also meet the requirements outlined above. Professionals should contact their governing body for conditions of incorporation specific to their profession.
Under subsection 3.2(2.1) of the Business Corporations Act a professional corporation that has a name that includes the words “société professionnelle” is not required to include any additional legal element under subsection 10(1) of the Business Corporations Act.
Ontario Regulation 665/05 under the Ontario Business Corporations Act (OBCA) relating to health profession corporations came into force on January 1, 2006 along with the amendments to the Business Corporations Act contained in Bill 197, Budget Measures Act, 2005.
This regulation allows family members to become non-voting shareholders of a dentist or physician corporation. A “family member” is a spouse, child or parent of a voting shareholder who is a member of the profession. Non-voting shares may be held in trust for a minor child who is a family member. Persons who wish to acquire shares in these types of corporations should seek legal and/or financial advice from a lawyer or an accountant to determine whether they qualify under the new regulation.
For further information about professional corporations, please view the Information Bulletin available online at ServiceOntario.ca.