This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, accounting, or tax advice. The information contained herein is subject to change and may vary from time to time in your region. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
Starting a business in Montreal? Congratulations! In Canada, the rules and regulations for getting started depends on where your business is located. Each province and region have varying requirements — thankfully, getting a Montreal business licence is pretty simple. Specialized businesses might have a few more rules or requirements, but here’s what you’ll need to know to get your business licence in Montreal.
Applying for a Montreal Business Licence
To begin, you’ll need to create an account on the official Montreal website. You’ll create a personal (not a business) account for this initial account. You’ll create a business account after you’ve made a personal account. Then you’ll be ready to register your business.
Unincorporated businesses, such as sole proprietorships in which your legal name is all that’s used in transacting business, aren’t technically required to register — but more on that in a moment. For instance, website designers, freelance writers, or online sellers are usually self-employed. These businesses typically use their owners’ legal names and don’t require a separate name for their business. In most cases, this type of business isn’t even required to carry small business employment insurance because the owner is the only employee.
On the other hand, if your business name isn’t the same as your legal, given name — even if it’s just slightly altered — then you must register in Quebec. Even if you’re only using a different business nickname on your website or an informal version of your legal name in communications with your customers, you have to register your business with Revenu Quebec. You’ll need to register again to obtain your GST or HST number and learn about GST and HST collections and payments. If you’re accessing the My Account services page for the first time for a business that is not yet registered, be aware that you’ll need:
- The 10-digit business number assigned to your business from Revenu Quebec
- The name and title of your business’s representative
- The name(s) and title(s) of any representatives responsible for online services
According to Business Development Canada (BDC), business registration isn’t strictly enforced, such as with home-based businesses. That said, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and ensure you have the proper documents to conduct business in Montreal.
Turn any business into an online business with a free eCommerce website.
Special Permits for Certain Businesses
It’s important to know the types of licences and permits required for the specific business you operate. For instance, a restaurant’s licences and permits include (but aren’t limited to):
- Proper zoning
- Commercial signage
Depending on your business, licence and permit fees can vary drastically. For this and other reasons, obtaining a small business loan may be necessary. In Square’s guide to business loans, you’ll learn the types of loans available and which loans are most apropos for a particular business type or industry.
The specific licences and permits required of your business depend on varying factors, such as:
- The exact location of your business
- The nature of your particular business or activity
Different governing bodies may require separate licences or permits concerning your business activities; there could be a federal or provincial rule that pertains to your business.
Some of the most apparent regulations are for companies involved in:
- The sale of cannabis or cannabis-related products
- The sale of alcohol
- Construction trades
- Gambling facilities
- Commercial or residential rentals
- Car hires
If you’re unsure whether you might have to provide additional documentation to run your business, check out the regulations on the city’s business website.
Fees for Montreal business licences vary. For instance, to start a new sole proprietorship in Quebec, a Montreal business licence costs $37. For priority processing, this fee is $55.50. You must re-register your business annually, for which you must pay the same fees outlined above.
To update or correct a business licence with priority service is $18.50. To close or dissolve your business, file a Declaration of Cancellation, for which there is also a fee of $18.50.
You can view the entire list of business licence and permit fees, including fines, on the Registraire des enterprises website.
Businesses Prohibited in Montreal
Depending on the nature of your business, you may not be allowed to open up in Montreal. Consult Montreal’s list of bylaws to verify that your business type is not prohibited in the city or its boroughs.