How to start an alternative and complementary healthcare business in Ontario

Table of contents

Getting started
Other resources


Alternative and complementary healthcare includes a wide variety of services. Before opening your business, consider the types of services you will provide.

Some common alternative and complementary healthcare services are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Homeopathic medicine
  • Massage Therapy
  • Naturopathic medicine
  • Natural health products (such as herbal remedies, and traditional medicine)
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Therapeutic Touch

This guide will give you an overview of the requirements for starting your business.

Getting started

Getting started

When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:

  • Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
  • Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
  • Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST

Our Starting a business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.

Read online:
Starting a business



Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL to find licences and regulations that may affect your business.

Use online:
Permits and licences search

Some common licences, permits and regulations that may apply to starting your business include:

Food and drug regulations

Many alternative and complementary healthcare products, such as alternative medications and chiropractic devices, are regulated by Health Canada through the Food and Drugs Act. Learn more about how the Act may affect your business.

Contact Health Canada:
Health Canada

Some of the most common Health Canada regulations that may apply to your business include:

Cosmetic products

If your services include the use or sale of cosmetics products, including soaps, deodorants, perfumes and creams, you need to be aware of requirements for manufacturing, labelling, distributing and selling these products.

Read online:
Regulatory information for cosmetics

If you will be producing and selling your own alternative cosmetic products, learn more about the ingredient labelling standards.

Read online:
Industry Guide for the labelling of cosmetics

Natural health product regulations

Find out what is required to manufacture or sell natural health products, such as:

  • Probiotics
  • Herbal remedies
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Homeopathic medicines
  • Traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines
  • Other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids

Read online:
Natural health products

Medical devices regulations

When you use medical devices in your business, make sure that they are authorized for use in Canada and meet Health Canada’s safety and quality regulations.

Read online:
Medical devices

Health product advertising

You may only advertise drug and health products that have been approved for sale in Canada and your advertisement must be approved.

Read online:
Regulatory requirements for advertising

Infection prevention and control

If you will be providing personal services, contact Public Health Ontario for resources on preventing infection.

Read online:
Public Health Ontario - Infection Prevention and Control


Certification and training

You may need formal certification and training to provide alternative and complementary healthcare services. Make sure that you are aware of the requirements that apply to the type of services you plan to offer.

Some alternative healthcare professionals are licensed or registered with a sector-specific college. For information on certification and training, contact the appropriate association for details.

You can find a list of regulatory bodies for the health sector on the Ministry of Health website.

Read online:
Regulated Health Professions

Music licence

Music licence

When your business uses recorded music, you are responsible for getting the right licence(s) for that use. Contact the following organization for more information:


Organizations that use music are legally required to get the applicable RE:SOUND and SOCAN licences. Businesses can get both licences through Entandem to ensure that they are using music ethically and legally.

Contact Entandem:

Legal questions

Legal questions

You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law, immigration or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.

Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.

Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:

Read online:
Pro Bono Ontario - Free Legal Advice Hotline


You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.

Use online:
Law Society Referral Service



Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
Canada Revenue Agency



Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Business Benefits Finder

Other resources

Industry-specific information