search existing business ownership

How to find out who owns a business?

When a business is either registered or incorporated anywhere in Canada, a public databank is maintained within each Province across Canada with specific details for each business including who owns the business, correct legal name of business, business address, and at times the business activity. If a business begins as a federally incorporated company, the Federal government maintains a databank specific to this jurisdiction but under any other circumstance, the Province where the business operates within will have a copy of the business within their system.

In most jurisdictions, there is a fee associated with searching an existing business. If you looking to take legal action against a business, it is recommended that you complete a search on the business name to ensure you have the correct business name and legal address of the business. The search will also display who owns the business whether it’s a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, General Partnership or Incorporation.

How do I search an individual and the businesses they own?

We are often asked to search an individual within a jurisdiction to see what business or businesses the individual owns. Unfortunately, none of the Provincial databanks holds the records of the businesses by cross referencing who owns them. You cannot search an individual to gain what businesses they own. If you have a good idea of the business name, we are able to search the words within the business name and see what appears for the business name results and search from there by business name, it also assists if you have information on where the business is located by city or town.

If you are not sure of a business name that an individual may own, we have a few alternatives to try and connect the dots between the business and the individual or individuals who own the business. One point of access is to complete a PPSA search on the individual. This search provides details of consumer loans that the individual has registered such as a vehicle, inventory, consumer goods etc. Often, if a person has a business, they will put the loan under their personal and business name. Another option is to search the litigation records in the courthouse where the individual resides to see if there are any litigation actions the person is involved in. If the business operating is a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or General Partnership, typically the individual and the business name will be listed as either plaintiff or defendant.

These options are considered to be options that may produce some connection between a business and an individual however this is only when the individual has either registered a loan connecting themselves personally to a business or if litigation exists. We have completed these searches for people attempting to find a connection to a business without any pertinent result. It is important to understand that more often than not, there is no record or connection to the individual and the business they may own.

If you know the name of the business, the search request is very simple and can be ordered as a corporate search or corporate profile report. If you are in the position of not being sure of the business name, we can search the alternatives as suggested with a PPSA or litigation search.

We have been assisting people to search existing businesses since 1992. If you need help and have limited information, please feel free to give our office a call and discuss what information is known and we can assist you to attempt to find the individual operator.

If you wish, you can simply order the corporate profile report and/or a PPSA search through all of Canada. We also offer the availability to complete litigation searches throughout all of Ontario.

Here is the link to request any of these 3 items:

If you would like further information, please feel free to reach out to any of our staff who are always here to assist in searches.
Toll-Free: 1-877-306-9458
Local: 1-416-599-9009
Fax: 1-866-294-4363
Office Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Friday E.S.T.

Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.

search an existing business name

How can I search my business name against existing businesses?

If you incorporated a business, it is mandatory in every Province and Territory to provide or gain documented support that the business name you have chosen is available. In Provinces such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, a search request is done with the Provincial government agents either before or as part of the incorporation process thru what is called a “name reservation”. This is a search requested by you and approved by the Province on the name selection for your business. In Provinces such as Ontario and Alberta, there is a third party document required called a NUANS report. This document provides 7 pages of similar named businesses, incorporations and trademarks to the proposed business name.


Federal Incorporation

Canadian Incorporation

When assessing incorporating in Canada, you have two options. One is to incorporate within the Province or Territory the business will operate within and the other option is to incorporate a Canada or Federal Incorporation.

Incorporating a Canada or Federal Incorporation

No matter which Province or Territory your business will operate within, there is the option to federally incorporate your business and bring that incorporation into whichever Province or Territory the business resides.


marijuana canada

Marijuana and Doug Ford

In the last little while since Doug Ford has been elected the Premier of Ontario, there have been a number of articles written in any number of Canadian newspapers and magazines related to Doug Ford and his stance on marijuana sales in Ontario.

This coming July of 2018, the federal government under Justin Trudeau is supposed to unveil cannabis legislation that allows for the sale and distribution of marijuana across Canada. Each Province has the ability to determine how the sales will be handled within their jurisdiction.


What is a PPSA Search

What is a PPSA Search?

PPSA or Personal Property Security Act is a databank which contains certain loan or lien information regarding individuals or corporations.

For example, if an individual takes a loan on a vehicle that has either been purchased or leased, the loan details will be sent to the PPSA data system including the individual name, vehicle information, date of birth, loan amount, date of loan and majority date. This loan is submitted by the lender to the PPSA databank and remains until the loan is discharged. The PPSA databank is available publicly at a fee where anyone can search for an individual to see if a person has a vehicle loan.

Alternatively, if a vehicle has a loan or lien against it, the vehicle loan would be listed under the VIN number of the vehicle and posted within the PPSA databank.

Other examples of information contained within the PPSA databank is if a corporation has any loans or liens where they have purchased equipment, consumer goods or vehicles. This would provide some access to the debt obligations by the corporation.

Why would a PPSA search be done?

Purchase or Sale of Business

Primarily, the PPSA databank records are pulled by law firms when an individual or corporation is being bought or sold. This allows the other parties lawyers to gain insight into debt obligations by the individual or corporation.

To search for an individual

The PPSA is also a useful tool when trying track an individual whose contact has been lost.

The best way to search an individual is if you have the person’s legal name and date of birth. The additional detail of the date of birth removes any results under anyone with the same name and exclusively provides individuals with that specific date of birth. If the date of birth is not known, any individual within the Province under that personal name both first and last name would be provided. With a common name, it can be overwhelming with multiple results to review.


DIY Incorporation of your business

How to incorporate in Ontario yourself

In Ontario, you have two ways to incorporate a business. You can either manually prepare and file Articles of Incorporation or you can use a third party portal to incorporate the business online or electronically.

Manually Filing Your Incorporation

To complete a manual incorporation in Ontario, you are required to have two copies of the prepared Articles of Incorporation Form 1 from the Province of Ontario. You may use the attached PDF form listed below:


Registering a Master Business Licence

A Master Business Licence registration is available in Ontario to individuals who wish to register a small business. The Master Business Licence is an overall business set up allowing for 3 specific options:

  • Sole Proprietorship (1 person)
  • General Partnership (2 or more individuals)
  • Tradename (doing business as name under an existing corporation)

The Master Business Licence offers a terrific opportunity for those in Ontario to register a business at a nominal fee but along with the low cost of registering, comes the limited availability of what this set up offers to those who register.


Entrepreneur, starting new business

Ontario Limited Company

Limited Company is wording associated with incorporating a business and with incorporation comes limited liability where the individual owner is separate from the business and the risk of owning and operated the business.

One of the biggest considerations when starting a new business is to evaluate the risk or liability associated with the operation.


wood shop business owners

How to Incorporate in Manitoba

If you have been interested in incorporating in Manitoba, Ontario Business Central offers assistance through this process. The details below provide a general overview of what is required and common questions asked when incorporating. Incorporating in Manitoba offers the availability to submit the Name Reservation and Articles of Incorporation online, however upon completion; the documentation is sent out by mail.