Under Ontario’s Business Names Act, you can’t just pick a name and start doing business. You have to register the business name. There is an exception to this general rule, which is use of your own name.
For an individual, this means that Wesley Jackson can wash your windows with his squeegee all day without a lot of government paperwork. As long as he identifies himself to the public as “Wesley Jackson” and not as “Wacko’s Window Washing”, everything is hunky dory.
For Corporations, this means that Wesley Jackson Professional Corporation can use the name “Wesley Jackson Professional Corporation” to conduct business with no concerns whatsoever. However, if Wesley Jackson Professional Corporation wants to conduct business using a different name, say “Traction Jackson, Litigation Action” it would have to register that name with the government.
The rule is set out in Section 2 (1) of Ontario’s Business Corporations Act, as follows:
2. (1) No corporation shall carry on business or identify itself to the public under a name other than its corporate name unless the name is registered by that corporation. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.17, s. 2 (1).
So when carrying on business, ensure that you have complied with the use of name rules, as a Corporation caught violating this Rule can face fines as high as $25,000.