How to start a bed and breakfast in Ontario

Table of contents

Getting started
Other resources


A bed and breakfast, commonly known as a B&B, is a business that provides short-term accommodations in a private home, or other comparable location, and traditionally includes breakfast as part of the service. Accommodations can vary from one establishment to the next, as each building has its own unique characteristics. Locations that might provide B&B accommodations can range from historic buildings and cottages, to houseboats and private homes. The amenities offered by different B&B businesses can also vary. In some cases, you may have private rooms with private bathrooms or several private rooms with shared bathrooms. B&Bs generally emphasize a high level of personalized customer service and will often be connected to local tourist attractions.

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

Municipal requirements

You may wish to contact your local municipality to verify how your B&B business will be classified and what regulations will apply to you (for example, you may need a Food Handler licence).

Also, most municipalities require a building permit before alterations or new construction begins. It is important to check zoning regulations before signing any binding contracts and to obtain the necessary building permit(s) before beginning alterations or new construction.

Read online:
Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Some common licenses, permits and regulations that may apply to your bed and breakfast include:

Food safety and labelling

Food safety and labelling

Your local health unit is the main contact for information on food safety and inspections.

Contact your local health authority to arrange an inspection of your business location, equipment and processes and make sure your business is complying with provincial and federal legislation.

The following link provides contact information for local health authorities that inspect food businesses in Ontario.

Read online:
Local public health contacts

You also need to follow safety standards and labelling rules if you produce, service, process or manufacture food.

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

Most businesses that buy, sell, ship, process or manufacture food will have CFIA regulations to follow.

These regulations may require you to:

  • Obtain a licence
  • Keep records
  • Properly label packaged foods

Activities that are regulated include:

  • Importing foods for re-sale
  • Selling food to the public, retail food sales
  • Shipping food products to another province or territory
  • Producing, manufacturing or advertising food products

Check with the CFIA to find out which requirements apply to your business.

Contact CFIA:
Food licences
Food safety for industry
Toolkit for businesses
Labelling, standards of identity and grades

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)

You may have regulations or inspection standards to follow if you produce, transport or manufacture specific food products in Ontario. Regulated products include dairy, eggs, fish, meat, honey and other plant-based products. Contact the Ministry directly to find out what will apply to your business.

Contact OMAFRA:
Food Inspection Programs

Ontario Ministry of Health

Home-based food businesses are allowed to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods and are exempt from certain regulatory requirements, such as specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements and food handling training certification.

Low-risk food items are generally considered non-hazardous and do not require time and temperature control. Some examples of low-risk foods include:

  • Most breads and buns (without meat, cream filling, etc.)
  • Most baked goods (with no custard)
  • Chocolate, hard candies and brittles
  • Fudge and toffees
  • Pickles, jams and preserves
  • Granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds
  • Cakes (icing that doesn’t require refrigeration), brownies, muffins and cookies
  • Coffee beans and tea leaves

For more information contact your local public health unit:
Ontario Ministry of Health - Food handler training and certification
Local public health contacts

Smoke-Free Ontario (Not Selling)

Smoke-Free Ontario

The Ontario government prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces and enclosed public places. Find out what your responsibilities are, what is required for inspections and how to get “No Smoking” signs.

Contact your local Public Health Unit:
Public Health Unit Locator

Building and fire codes

As a provider of accommodations you will likely need to meet additional requirements under the Ontario Building Code and the Ontario Fire Code to ensure the safety of your guests. You can contact your local fire department and municipal building department to make sure that your business premises meets all local safety requirements.

Contact the Ontario Fire Marshal:
Fire prevention and protection

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:

Travel and accommodation services

If you arrange transportation or sleeping accommodation for your clients, you may need to register with the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO). Examples of activities that can include regulated travel and accommodation services:

  • Tours
  • Retreats
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Field trips

To find out more about activities that require registration, contact TICO or visit their website.

Contact TICO:
Resources and guidelines 

Hot tubs, spas and pools  

If you want to offer hot tubs (spas) or a pool at your business, you need to make sure you are following Ontario’s regulations. Information about rules and exemptions that may apply to your business is available online. If you have questions about the rules or exemptions for hot tubs, spas and pools, contact your local Public Health Unit directly.

For more information contact your local public health unit:
Ontario Ministry of Health - Environmental Health 
Local public health contacts

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

Compliance in the platform economy – Accommodation sharing

Find out how tax responsibilities may apply to you when you share your property for a short period including through a website or mobile app.

Read online:
Compliance in the platform economy – Accommodation sharing

Additional Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) information for Bed and Breakfast owners in Ontario

The Canada Revenue Agency also provides information on the following HST requirements and rebates that could apply to your business.

Contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA):

Operating a Bed and Breakfast in your home

Find out how the HST applies to operating a bed and breakfast in your home.

Read online:
Operating a Bed and Breakfast in Your Home

HST New Housing Rebate

You may be eligible for the HST new housing rebate if you bought or built a bed and breakfast.

Read online:
GST/HST New Housing Rebate

HST Information for the Travel and Convention Industry

Learn how to charge the HST on accommodations, tour packages and passenger transportation services. You can also get information about HST rebates that may be available to non‑residents for eligible tour packages.

Read online:
GST/HST Information for the Travel and Convention Industry

Sales by Individuals of Owner-Occupied Homes

Find answers to common questions and how the HST may apply to the sale of owner-occupied homes, including those operated as bed and breakfast businesses.

Read online:
Sales by Individuals of Owner-Occupied Homes



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


Bed and Breakfast associations may provide information on accommodation rating services in addition to other resources and networking opportunities.

Industry specific information