On October 19, 2021, the new Ontario Business Registry System launched. This new online registry now enables businesses and not-for-profit corporations to directly access services of the Ontario government 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, and complete approximately 90 transactions, such as registering a new business, dissolving an existing business, incorporating a not-for-profit corporation, and filing an annual return. Any business and not-for-profit that is incorporated, registered, declared, or licensed in Ontario will now have an online profile in the new Ontario Business Registry.
Aim of the new Ontario Business Registry System
According to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (the “Ministry”), the new streamlined digital platform aims to assist businesses to access services quickly and efficiently such that their costs will be reduced and they will be able to better use their resources to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benefits of the new Ontario Business Registry System
Registrations or filings that would previously take several weeks to complete will now be completed instantly through the online registry. When completing a transaction through the Ontario Business Registry, automatic e-mail notices with electronic attachments, rather than hard-copy documents, will be sent out to users. In addition, annual return filings that were previously completed through the Canada Revenue Agency will be made available through the new registry, enabling businesses to retain all their filings in one place.
The launch of the Ontario Business Registry System also involves the implementation of a company key, which is a unique number assigned to a business. The company key is required, with certain exceptions, to make changes to the business’s records with the Ministry. The holder of the key must keep it confidential and should only share it with an authorized service provider or an intermediary, such as a law or accounting firm. The company key will be sent to the official e-mail address of the business when a new business is registered. With respect to existing businesses, owners are encouraged to sign up on the Ontario Business Registry website to obtain a company key.
On October 18, 2021, current business registry services and transactions were paused. Documents not processed before this date, will be returned for re-submission using the new registry system or by mail or email, if applicable, using new forms. In addition, service counters in Ontario will no longer endorse articles submitted under the Business Corporations Act and the ServiceOntario counter at 375 University Avenue, Toronto, is set to close.
Role of Intermediaries
Intermediaries such as law and accounting firms may continue to complete transactions on behalf of businesses and not-for-profit corporations through authorized service providers or by mail. Services that were provided by Dye & Durham Corporation and ESC Corporate Services Ltd. continue to be offered.
Lawyers, paralegals, law clerks, chartered professional accountants, and members of the Ontario Association of Professional Searchers of Records, who regularly file for corporations, law and accounting firms, are able to complete transactions by e-mail and, eventually, directly in the new registry.
For more information about Ontario’s new business registry, please click here.