The City of Port Colborne requires municipal business licences for trailer parks, public garages, lodging houses, hawkers and peddlers, refreshment vehicles and kennels. If you operate a second-hand goods business, salvage yard or transportation business, you need a licence from Niagara Region

  • Note: The current business licensing by-laws are under review.
 Visit the Small Business Enterprise Centre
The Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre is your first stop for information on starting and growing your small business.

Resources Available Include:

  • One-on-one business consultations (by appointment)
  • Business name search and registration assistance
  • Assistance with various licensing and registration needs
  • Market research assistance
  • Business plan development
  • Business seminars, workshops and events
  • Summer Company, Starter Company Plus and Futurpreneur Program access
  • Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) mixed-use incubation services
 Prepare your Business Plan
Your business plan is one of the most important elements of your business start-up. It is also often a critical element when applying to a financial institution for financing; or a government funded program. Prepare your business plan in the start-up stage of your business, and revise it on an ongoing basis.

Why write a business plan?

  • To define your business and give you a better understanding of the industry
  • To show potential strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business
  • To identify your goals and give you focus
  • To allow you to measure your success
  • To serve as your company’s resume
  • To help obtain financing or attract investors

The bottom line – the purpose of a business plan is to improve the success rate of any venture.

 Attend a Business Seminar, Workshop or Event
You can check out our current listing of events and register online: Listing of Business Seminars, Workshops and Events

Please note that registration is required to ensure space is available. You can register online or directly with the Centre by calling 905-356-7521 extension 5130.

 Check Municipal Regulations
Municipalities across the Niagara Region will have specific regulations regarding business operation within their municipality. Ensure that you check with the various departments listed below for any regulations affecting your business.

A listing of municipal offices within the Niagara Region is provided on the last page of this guide.


Municipalities across the Niagara Region (and Province of Ontario) will license certain types of businesses. Each municipality will have a different licensing by-law and the types of business licenses will vary from municipality to municipality.

In Port Colborne, you can contact Kristina Domenicucci in the Clerk’s Department at 905-835-2900 extension 121.

NOTE: If required, your application will be circulated to the necessary departments, including Building, Fire, Police and Public Health. 


To ensure that the building, land or establishment where you will be operating your business is appropriately zoned, contact your municipalities zoning administrator. If you operate a home-based business, there is likely a home occupation by-law which you must adhere to. Christopher Roome is the Planning Tech/Clerk at the City of Port Colborne and can be contacted at 905-835-2900 extension 205.

You may also want to have your lawyer and accountant evaluate any leases or purchase and sale agreements you are contemplating to ensure you are aware of all the legal and financial implications associated with your decision.


If you are installing or erecting a sign for your business, or making renovations to your business premise, make sure to check with your City Hall’s Building department for any required building permits and inspections.

Building Services is responsible to ensure that all building construction governed by a building permit meets the minimum acceptable standard as required by statutory authority under the Building Code Act. This is accomplished through the processing of all building permits, the review of applications for compliance with the Ontario Building Code, and the site inspection of all construction projects.

Building Services is also responsible to ensure that minimum standards of property maintenance are enforced through the Property Standards By-law in order to protect the members of the public from situations that may be unsafe or aesthetically unacceptable. The Department responds to complaints from members of the public. Inspections are then required to confirm a by-law violation. In addition, the Building Division is responsible for the issuance of Sign Permits.

In Port Colborne, the City’s Building Department can be reached by telephone at 905-835-2900 extension 229.

Fire Department

As part of the building, zoning and licensing requirements, you may require inspection from the Fire Department. You are also required to ensure you meet all Fire code regulations. To contact the Port Colborne Fire Department, please call 905-834-4512.

 Regional and Provincial Regulations

Niagara Region Business Licensing

As of June 1, 2019 certain businesses previously licensed by the NRPS will be licensed, inspected and enforced by the Niagara Region Business Licensing Department. For a complete list, contact the Licensing Department at 905-980-6000 ext. 6380 or visit: Niagara Region Business Licensing

  • Adult Entertainment
  • Salvage Yards
  • Scrap Metal Dealers and Collectors
  • Auto Wrecking Yards
  • Second Hand Stores
  • Second Hand Goods Dealers
  • TNC (Transportation Network Company)
  • Vehicles for hire (including taxicabs, tow trucks, limousines, sightseeing shuttles and specialty vehicles)

Public Health Department

The Niagara Regional Public Health Department will inspect the equipment and conditions for certain businesses. For more information you can contact the Public Health Department at 905-356-1538 or visit: Niagara Public Health Department

  • Food service (including restaurants, food sales establishments, refreshment vehicles etc)
  • Hairdressing salons and barber shops
  • Tanning salons
  • Tattoo and body piercing studios
  • Convenience stores
  • Water Haulers
  • Public Pools

The Public Health department also offers the safe food handler safety and certification program: Food Handler Certification Program

Provincial Licenses

Certain business may require special Provincial licenses. A partial list is provided below

  • Day Care Services – Ministry of Children and Youth Services
  • Liquor Licenses – Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
  • Custom’s Brokers – Canada Border Services Agency
  • Travel Agents  – Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO)
  • Music License –  Performances of music in public require a license from SOCAN
  • Motor Vehicle Dealers – Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council
 Decide on the Form of Business
There are 3 main business structures including:

Sole Proprietorship

Refers to an unincorporated business with one (sole) owner.  

  • The owner must be an individual. It is not a corporation. 
  • This is the easiest form of business to set up.

General Partnership

Refers to an unincorporated business with 2 or more owners.  

  • The general partnership may consist of individuals. This is not the same as a limited partnership. 


An entity with rights and responsibilities as a distinct person under the law.

  • A corporation is owned by the shareholders and managed by directors chosen by the shareholders.  
  • The owners of a corporation are not personally responsible for the debts of the corporation.  
  • The corporation is responsible for its debts.  
  • The purpose of a business corporation is to make a profit for its owners. 
  • A business corporation is distinguished by the use of the following legal elements within the corporate name: "Limited", "Incorporated" or "Corporation" or the corresponding abbreviations "Ltd.", "Inc." or "Corp."
  • A corporation may operate under a name other than its legal corporate name by filing a Registration Form 2 under the Business Names Act.  The operating name cannot have the legal elements of "Limited", "Incorporated", "Corporation", "Ltd.", "Inc." or "Corp." within the name.
 Register Your Business Name

  • Registration of your business name (Master Business License) is mandatory under the Business Names Act if you operate a business under a name other than your own.
  • This registration is also required to open a business bank account.
  • Registration costs $60.00 and is valid for 5 years. 
  • Name Search is optional and costs $8.00 per name searched.
  • Registering your business name does NOT give you exclusive use of the name.


Online: Online Master Business Licence Registration           

In Person:     Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre

                    4343 Morrison Street, Behind City Hall

                    905-356-7521 x 5130

If you choose to operate your business using your legal name (for example: John Smith) with no additional words in your business name, a business name registration is optional.

Most financial institutions will require you to provide a Master Business License or Articles of Incorporation prior to opening a commercial bank account.

 Federal and Provincial Taxes

Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)

The HST tax rate of 13% is comprised of Ontario’s 8% portion, and a 5% federal portion.

You meet the CRA small supplier definition if you generate revenue of $30,000 or less in the last four consecutive calendar quarters and in any single calendar quarter.

You can register voluntarily if your taxable sales are less than $30,000, but once registered you must begin collecting and remitting the HST.  There is no charge for this Business Number (BN).

Contact the Canada Revenue Agency for more information about claiming your input tax credits.

Canada Revenue Agency

32 Church Street, St Catharines

1-800-959-5525 | Canada Revenue Agency or Online Business Number Registration

Employer Health Tax (EHT)

If your business has a cumulative annual payroll in excess of $450,000 or are considered an associated employer, you are required to register and remit Employer Health Tax.  Contact the Ministry of Finance for more information.

Ministry of Finance – Tax Revenue Division

1-866-668-8297| Employer Health Tax 

Corporate Income Tax

If you have incorporated your business you will have to remit income tax to the federal government.  In most cases, new corporations will receive a Business Number from Revenue Canada within 45 days of incorporating.  For more information contact:

Canada Revenue Agency

32 Church Street, St Catharines

1-800-959-5525 | Canada Revenue Agency or Online Business Number Registration

Insurance needs for businesses vary greatly.  It is best to choose an insurance agent or broker familiar with your size of business and, in particular, an agent familiar with your type of operation.  If you don't have an insurance agent, you may wish to ask other business owners in your area to recommend one.

The following list is included to remind you not to overlook the complex areas of business insurance.  It is best, however, to discuss your specific requirements with your insurance agent.

Basic insurance:

  • Fire insurance (extended coverage on buildings and contents);
  • Liability insurance (depending on the type of business);
  • Burglary protection (theft coverage); and
  • Dishonesty insurance (covers thefts by employees).  


If you import goods into Canada or export goods to other countries, you should register for an import/export account number. This number is used to process customs documents. To avoid delays in releasing your goods at the border, open your account before you import or export goods.


Canada Revenue Agency

32 Church Street, St Catharines

1-800-959-5525 | Canada Revenue Agency or Online Business Number Registration


Canada Border Services Agency

1-800-461-9999 | CBSA Website

 Intellectual Property

There are 5 types of intellectual property including:

  • Trade-marks are used to distinguish the goods or services of one person or company from those of another. Slogans, names of products, distinctive packages or unique product shapes are all examples of features that are eligible for registration as trade-marks.
  • Patents cover new inventions (process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter), or any new and useful improvement of an existing invention;
  • Copyrights provide protection for literary, artistic, dramatic or musical works (including computer programs), and three other subject-matter known as: performance, sound recording and communication signal;
  • Industrial designs are the visual features of shape, configuration, pattern or ornament (or any combination of these features), applied to a finished article of manufacture;
  • Integrated circuit topographies refer to the three-dimensional configuration of the electronic circuits embodied in integrated circuit products or layout designs.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)

1-866-997-1936 | CIPO Website

Employee Regulations

Payroll Account

You will need a CRA payroll account if hiring employees.  All businesses are required to make payroll deductions from their employees for: Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI) and Income Tax.   For more information contact:

Canada Revenue Agency

32 Church Street, St Catharines

1-800-959-5525 | Canada Revenue Agency or Online Business Number Registration

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board(WSIB)

Most businesses in Ontario that employ workers (including family and sub-contractors) must register and make remittance to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).  It’s the law. 

  • You will need to contact WSIB within 10 days of hiring your first full or part-time worker.
  • Employers who do not register are subject to prosecution and penalties. 
  • Owners, partners and executive officers are not automatically covered under the WSIB insurance plan, but you can apply for optional insurance. 
  • Owners/operators in the construction industry require coverage if you are engaging in commercial work

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

905-687-8622 or 1-800-387-0750 | WSIB Website 

Employment Standards

  • The Employment Standards Act (ESA) provides for minimum terms and conditions of employment in most industries. 
  • The poster (now available in 20 languages), "What You Should Know About the Ontario Employment Standards Act", outlines employees’ rights and employers’ responsibilities at work and must be posted in most workplaces.


Ministry of Labour

 1-800-809-4731, Ministry of Labour Website

Starting a home business
If you are inquiring about a home business, please call our Planning Department for more information. 
Small Business Enterprise Centre Business Contacts




Municipal Business Licences

City Of Port Colborne

Clerks Department, City Hall


905-835-2900 x121

Zoning/Planning Information

City of Port Colborne

Planning Department, City Hall

905-835-2900 x205

Building Permits

City of Port Colborne

Building Department, City Hall

905-835-2900 x129

Fire Department

City of Port Colborne

Port Colborne Fire & Emergency Services, 3 Killaly Street W


Property Taxes

City of Port Colborne

Finance Department, City Hall


Public Health Department

Niagara Region

Inspection Department

5710 Kitchener Street, N.F.


Niagara Region Business Licensing Department

Licensing Department

5853 Peer Street, 2nd floor, N.F.



Business Name Registration

Service Ontario

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Register Online at:

Service Ontario



Employer Health Tax (EHT)

Ministry of Revenue

Ministry of Finance


Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

(Formerly known as Worker’s Compensation)

301 St. Paul Street, 8th floor

St. Catharines, ON




Provincial Incorporation

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services

Land Registry Office

59 Church Street, St. Catharines

Service Ontario




Liquor License/Gaming Supplier Licensing

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

90 Sheppard Avenue E., Suite 200

Toronto, ON, M2N 0A4





Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), Payroll Deductions, Import/Export Account Canada Revenue Agency

32 Church Street, P.O. Box 3038

St. Catharines ON L2R 3B9

Canada Revenue Agency



Federal Incorporation

Corporations Canada

151 Younge Street

Toronto, ON M5C 2W7

Federal Incorporation




Intellectual Property -

Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks.

Canadian Intellectual Property Office



Business Assistance & Guidance

Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre

Niagara Falls City Hall

Small Business Consultant

Business Information Officer


x 5004

x 5005                   

Business Information

Canada Ontario Business Service Centre

Canada Business