Ontario Operating Trade Names

Registration Requirements for Ontario Operating Trade Names

This article is about the requirement under the Business Names Act (Ontario) for a company to register under the Business Names Act when it operates under a name other than its corporate name – known as an Ontario operating trade name.

The statute indicates in section 2 that no corporation shall carry on business or identify itself to the public under a name other than its corporate name unless that name is registered by the corporation.

Register an Operating Trade Name

This legal requirement is frequently not followed correctly by small business corporations.  Let us take the example of a person who incorporates a company called Trewell Landscaping Inc.  He incorporates his company and wants to put a sign up on his door for the name “Trewell Landscaping”.


Trewell Landscaping - No Inc.


This is not the full name of the company and Trewell Landscaping Inc. is therefore operating under a name other than its corporate name and is in violation of the Business Names Act.

The owner of Trewell Landscaping thinks that because his corporate name and his business name are similar, that a registration is not required.  However, by virtue of the owner putting up a sign on his door called Trewell Landscaping he is in violation of the legal requirements under the Business Names Act.


The owner of Trewell Landscaping Inc. has two options.  He can register an operating trade name called “Trewell Landscaping” and obtain a Master Business License for this name.  This would mean that Trewell Landscaping Inc. would then be legally operating under the trade name “Trewell Landscaping” and the above sign is completely correct and legal.


If he does not wish to incur any further expense he can include the word “Inc.” at the end of the name “Trewell Landscaping” in very small letters after the name on his sign.


Trewell Landscaping Inc.


Resources for Canadian Business Owners would be glad to assist you If you require the registration of an Ontario operating trade name on behalf of your company to help you stay in compliance with the Ontario Business Names Act.

Below is an example of the Master Business Licence that is issued by the Ontario Ministry of Government Services when a company registers a business name.  This example illustrates how the name is registered without the “Inc.” in the name which allows the corporation to now operate under Trewell Landscaping.


Master Business License