How to Get a Waterloo Business Licence

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.

Waterloo is one half of Ontario’s Twin Cities (the other city is Kitchener). Often referred to as Kitchener-Waterloo, Waterloo remains independent. Grand River flows alongside the city’s eastern portion and creates a beautiful parks district. The city enjoys warm, humid summers and cold winters thanks to Waterloo’s geographical location, but it’s not as cold as other parts of the country. As of 2021, Waterloo’s population was just over 121,000 people.

The University of Waterloo has brought many businesses to the region, thanks to its devotion to tech- and business-related studies. Students often find work in local businesses — one of which could be yours. But first, what will you name your Waterloo business?

Choosing a Business Name for Your Waterloo Business

Before applying for a business licence in Waterloo, you’ll need a unique name for your business — one that isn’t already in use in Waterloo or even similar to another Waterloo business.

For instance, if you’re opening a pizza place, Pizza Supernova or Supernova’s Pizza wouldn’t be acceptable names because the other half of this twin cities region, Kitchener, already has a Pizza Nova. Red Swank Pizza would be a cool name — like a kind of play on words: your sauce is the swankiest! — but Waterloo already has a Red Swan Pizza. Different name, but not unique enough.

Or say you’re opening a brewery or a pub and want to pay homage to Waterloo. Since Waterloo Brewing already exists, Waterloo Brews or Waterloo Brewery wouldn’t be acceptable. Use your creativity and come up with a unique business name to Waterloo, your business, and you. Make it meaningful.
To ensure your business’s name isn’t already in use, you’ll have to conduct a business name search. You can do this on your own using the Canada Business Registryor NUANS, or you can hire a company to perform the search for you, but keep in mind: private companies charge fees for these services.

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Obtaining a Business Licence in Waterloo, Ontario

Getting your Waterloo business licence (after you’ve performed the business name search) requires registering your business name according to the Ontario Business Name Act.

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and companies (LLCs) are required to register.

You can find business name registration details on Ontario’s official website. Alternatively, Ontario Business Central can register your business for you. Depending on your industry and business, you might need additional licences and permits, which you can learn more about and obtain through the City of Waterloo official website. Just navigate to the Business Planning and Development page (which offers everything you need to get your business up and running), then to the Business Licences page.

Applying for a Waterloo Business Licence

You can apply for a Waterloo business licence in person, via postal mail, or online. If you have questions, you can email the licensing department. Business licensing fees depend on variables, such as business industry, required permits, and more. Every business application requires a Certificate of Insurance form completed by an insuring agent.
Before you apply for a Waterloo business licence:

  1. Check to see what business permits you may need.
  2. Register for Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) collection through Revenue Canada by calling 1 (800) 959-5525.
  3. Register your business’s name with Service Ontario.

Everything else you need can be found on the City of Waterloo’s Business Licence page.

The following are handy resources:

Tips for Success with a Waterloo Small Business

In addition to offering guidelines for applying for a new business licence, the City of Waterloo website asks new business owners if they’re ready to start a new business and the many challenges it entails. You can minimize your challenges by making a business plan and finding a solid partner. Ready for an upgrade? Streamline sales and reporting with Square.