Ontario Launches New Ontario Business Registry
On October 19, 2021, the Ontario government launched the new Ontario Business Registry (“OBR” or the “Registry”). The OBR replaced the Ontario Business Information System (“ONBIS”), which had been in effect for the better part of three decades.
Under the OBR, clients can rely on instant fulfilment of some of their corporate search and registration requests. Clients wishing to incorporate or register a business name may now do so on a 24/7/365 basis. Clients may access the OBR directly by obtaining a company key. The company key is necessary to authorize an account to make changes to their records with the ministry. It is not necessary to have a company key when using a law firm, which, in turn can use one of the two government-authorized service providers. Annual returns, formerly filed through Canada Revenue Agency, must now be filed through the Registry.
Search products have been consolidated, reducing the number of reports from 17 products to 4, with the main four reports being: (1) Certificate of No Match, (2) Entity Profile Report, (3) Request Document Copy and (4) Certificate of Status.
Information in the OBR is updated in real-time. Articles of Incorporation (“AOI”) under the Business Corporations Act and Form 1 Notices of Change under the Corporations Information Act (“CIA”) contain new changes, including the requirement to provide an email address for all incorporators as well as an official email address (AOI) and an official email address and email addresses for all directors and officers (CIA). Both AOI and CIA filings will require a NAICS code. NAICS is an abbreviation for North American Industry Classification System. NAICS has been designed for statistical purposes. To obtain a NAICS code, it is necessary to search the NAICS directly, by inputting a key word, such as technology, construction, or mining. Holding company is another acceptable classification. Searching for a NAICS code is a cumbersome process, as there are thousands of codes.
As of the date of this writing, our office has experienced delays in dealing with the Ministry, both directly, and through our service provider. We are told that these are system-wide, as the Ministry deals with a high volume of transactions and itself works out some of the imperfections in the system. Business name registrations, intended to be, and historically having been, immediate, are now taking upwards of three days to file. It is expected that these issues will resolve themselves in the weeks and months ahead.
As always, feel free to contact our office with any corporate search and filing requests you may have. We have spent significant time upfront as well as on an ongoing time basis, speaking with the Ministry and our service provider, collectively wading through the nuances of the system, so that you don’t have to.