Corporate Law
5 minutes reading time

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Incorporate a Business in Ontario

Written by
The Tabuchi Law Team
Published on
September 19, 2022


Incorporating a business in Ontario is a significant milestone for any entrepreneur. It marks the formal beginning of your business journey and opens up a world of new opportunities. However, the incorporation process can be complex and daunting, especially for first-time business owners.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of incorporating a company, from choosing a business name to filing the necessary paperwork. We will also discuss the benefits of incorporation and why it is a popular choice for businesses of all sizes.

Benefits of Incorporation

There are many benefits to incorporating a business in Ontario, including:

  • Limited liability: Shareholders are only liable for the debts and liabilities of the corporation up to the amount they have invested in the company. This means that their personal assets are protected in the event of bankruptcy or other financial difficulties.
  • Separate legal entity: A corporation is a separate legal entity from its shareholders. This means that the corporation can own assets, enter into contracts, sue and be sued in its own name.
  • Tax advantages: Corporations can benefit from certain tax advantages, such as lower income tax rates on eligible business income.
  • Perpetual existence: A corporation can exist indefinitely, regardless of the changes in shareholders or management. This makes it a more stable and permanent business structure.


A company that designs and sells custom furniture is incorporated in Ontario. The company has two shareholders, Alice and Bob. Alice invests $10,000 in the company, and Bob invests $20,000.

The company takes out a loan to purchase new equipment. If the company defaults on the loan, the creditors can only sue the company for the loan amount. Alice and Bob's personal assets are protected.

Steps to Incorporate a Business in Ontario

To incorporate a business in Ontario, you must follow these steps:

  1. Choose a business name. Your business name must be unique and distinguishable from other registered business names in Ontario. You can search for available business names using the NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) system.
  2. File the Articles of Incorporation. The Articles of Incorporation are the legal documents that create your corporation. They must contain certain information, such as the corporation's name, registered office address, and share structure. You can file the Articles of Incorporation online or by mail.
  3. Pay the incorporation fee. There is a fee to incorporate a business in Ontario. The amount of the fee depends on whether you file the Articles of Incorporation online or by mail.
  4. Receive the Certificate of Incorporation. Once the Articles of Incorporation have been approved by the government, you will receive a Certificate of Incorporation. This certificate is proof that your corporation has been legally incorporated.

Additional Considerations

In addition to the steps above, there are a few other things you should keep in mind when incorporating a business:

  • Shareholder agreements. If you have multiple shareholders, it is essential to have a shareholder agreement in place. This agreement should outline the rights and responsibilities of each shareholder, as well as how the corporation will be managed.

Example: Alice and Bob create a shareholder agreement that outlines their ownership interests in the company, their roles and responsibilities, and how they will make decisions.

  • Corporate records. You must maintain certain corporate documents, such as a minute book and a register of shareholders. These records should be kept up-to-date and accessible to shareholders and directors.

Example: Alice and Bob purchase a minute book and a register of shareholders. They keep these records in a safe place at their office.

  • Annual returns. Corporations are required to file annual returns with the government. These returns provide information about the corporation's activities and financial status.

Example: Alice and Bob file their first annual return one year after incorporating their business.

Seek Professional Advice

Incorporating a business is a complex process, and it is crucial to seek professional advice from a lawyer or accountant to ensure that you follow the correct procedures and meet all legal requirements.


Incorporating a business in Ontario can be a rewarding experience, and it is a popular choice for businesses of all sizes. By following the steps outlined in this guide and seeking professional advice from our team of law professionals, you can ensure that your incorporation process is smooth and successful.

Let's wrap up the benefits of incorporating your business:

  • Increased credibility: A corporation is often perceived as more credible and professional than a sole proprietorship or partnership. This can be beneficial when attracting customers, investors, and partners.
  • More accessible to raise capital: It is generally easier for corporations to raise money than unincorporated businesses. This is because investors are more likely to invest in a corporation, which offers them limited liability and other protections.
  • Better succession planning: It is easier to transfer corporation ownership than an unincorporated business. This makes planning for succession easier and ensures that your business continues to operate smoothly after you leave.

Suppose you are considering incorporating your business in Ontario. In that case, I encourage you to research and seek professional advice from our team of experts at Tabuchi Law to ensure you make the best decision for your business.

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