Business regulations guide

Table of contents

Consumer products: Labelling and safety
Food: labelling and safety
Workplace health and safety
Health regulations
Tobacco regulations
Trade certification
Media usage
Financial transactions and loans
Environmental regulations and inspections
Firearms, fireworks and explosives
Privacy and protection of personal information
Other resources


Whether you are starting or growing your business, you need to be aware of business regulations. Regulations set the standards and rules that ensure the Canadian marketplace is safe, consistent and fair to everyone.

Depending on the product or service you are offering or where your business is located, you may need to meet regulation standards from any or all of the following:

  • Federal government
  • Provincial governments
  • Municipal governments
  • Industry associations
  • Regulatory bodies (colleges, government-approved organizations)

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.

Contact us:
Permits and licences search

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


You are responsible for ensuring that your business is accessible to people with disabilities. To learn more about making your business accessible to staff and customers, consult the following:

Accessibility laws

Make sure that your Ontario business meets accessibility standards for customer service, transportation, information and communications, built environments, employment and filing your compliance report.

Contact the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility:
Accessibility in Ontario

Consumer products: labelling and safety

The label you put on your product is an important way of communicating the value of that product to potential customers. You can use your labels to sell the benefits of your product to your clients, but you must follow labelling rules and standards.

The rules can be more restrictive for some types of products than for others. You should research the regulations and standards for your product before selling them.

Consumer products labelling (non-food)

There are labelling standards for everyday consumer products, such as t-shirts, office supplies and pet food, that you need to know about before you begin selling products.

The Competition Bureau regulates labelling for most “non-food” consumer products. To learn more about the rules for packaging, labelling and advertising your products, contact the Competition Bureau directly or refer to the following link:

Contact the Competition Bureau:

The Competition Bureau also publishes individual guides on labelling requirements for certain business activities and consumer products. Refer to the following guides if you need more information on a specific aspect of labelling:

Labelling - Packaging consumer products (non-food)

Learn about your responsibilities when packaging and labelling consumer products (including pet food).

Read online:
Guide to the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations 
Packaging and labelling requirements

Labelling – Textiles

Find out what your responsibilities are when labelling textiles, including how to register for a CA number.

Read online:
Guide to the Textile Labelling and Advertising Regulations 
CA Identification Number

Made in Canada

Learn about the rules and regulations for using claims like "Designed in Canada" or "Made in Canada" to promote your products.

Read online:
"Product of Canada" and "Made in Canada" claims

Food: Labelling and safety

Food safety and proper labelling is an important concern for Canadians. Labelling standards for food products help make sure that consumers have the information they need about the food they are purchasing. If you plan on packaging, distributing or selling food products in Canada, you must make sure they meet labelling standards.

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

Food labelling and advertising

Learn about the standards that apply to labelling and advertising for all food products in Canada, including how to appropriately show net quantity, quality and composition. Food labelling requirements apply to producers, manufacturers, advertisers, importers and retailers of food products.

Contact Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA):
Food labelling for industry

Ontario-specific food labelling regulations

Find out about Ontario’s food labelling regulations for specific food products like honey, meat, maple products, and more.

Contact Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA):
Regulatory requirements for produce in Ontario

Foodland Ontario

Use the Foodland Ontario logo as a marketing tool for your business. You can use the logo, free of charge, on eligible Ontario food products.

Contact Foodland Ontario: 
How to use the Foodland Ontario logo

Food licensing municipal

Municipal regulations

Many municipalities have licences specific to food handling or food preparation. If your municipality is not listed in BizPaL, or you are not sure what municipality your business falls under, you can contact the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) for information on what municipal regulations, licences or permits will be needed to operate your business.

Association of Municipalities of Ontario

The following government guides provide additional information on rules and regulations related to food safety:

Workplace health and safety

As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your products and services are safe and your employees work in a healthy, safe environment.

Most employees, employers and workplaces in Ontario are covered by occupational health and safety regulations. As an employer in Ontario, your obligations include a duty to instruct, inform and supervise your workers in order to protect their health and safety.

Read online:
Guide to the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development

Preventing workplace illness and injury is an important part of your responsibility towards your employees and in creating a healthy and safe work environment.

You can find out more about prevention training requirements and resources for you and your employees from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development's Health & Safety Contact Centre.

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development:
Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development – Health and safety for small businesses

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)

The WSIB is dedicated to helping you with workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

Most employers are legally required to register with the WSIB within 10 days of hiring an employee. You will get several benefits from registration, including:

  • No-fault workplace insurance
  • Help getting your injured employees back to work
  • Protection from lawsuits

Note: You will be required to pay an insurance premium.

Contact WSIB:
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

To learn more about regulations for hiring employees, read our guide:
Employment regulations guide: Hiring

Naloxone kits and training in the workplace

Naloxone kits and training in the workplace

Your business needs to have a naloxone kit if you know or should reasonably be aware of the following scenarios being present in the workplace:

  • There is a risk of a worker suffering an opioid overdose.
  • There is a risk that the worker could overdose in a workplace where they work for you.
  • The risk comes from a worker who works for you.

Naloxone kits can help temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Common opioids include:

  • morphine
  • heroin
  • oxycodone
  • fentanyl
  • codeine
  • hydromorphone

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for more information about the naloxone requirements and the training for the workplace.

Contact the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development:
Naloxone in the workplace

Health regulations

If your business produces or sells health products or cosmetics, you are required to know what licences, permits and tests are needed before you produce and sell your product. Health Canada regulates health products and medical devices in Canada. To learn about the requirements for health products and medical devices, refer to the information below:

Drugs and health products (therapeutic)

You are responsible for ensuring that the drugs and health products you produce or sell are approved for use in Canada. The regulations apply to products such as cough and cold medicine, over the counter drugs, toothpaste and antiperspirant.

Contact Health Canada:
Drugs and health products

Medical devices

If you produce or sell medical devices, you must ensure that they have accurate labels and meet Health Canada’s standards. The labels must list the materials used, evidence of the product's safety, as well as the recall and correction procedures.

Contact Health Canada's Medical Devices Bureau:
Medical devices
Medical device inspections

Natural health products

Your natural health products must meet Canadian standards for importing, distributing, storing, manufacturing, packaging, and labelling before you can sell them in Canada.

Read online:
Natural Health Products Compliance and Enforcement Policy 
About Natural Health Product Regulation in Canada
Product licensing


If you are producing or selling cosmetics products, you must ensure that they meet Health Canada's cosmetics standards and labelling requirements.

Contact Health Canada: 
Regulatory information for cosmetics

Tobacco regulations

Tobacco regulations affect almost every business. Rules apply if you are importing, exporting, transporting, storing, processing, selling, or marketing tobacco products, as well as for your staff or customers who want to smoke.

In addition to the federal and provincial information listed below, contact the municipality where you will be operating for information on local tobacco laws.

Tobacco retail dealer's permit

Tobacco retail dealer's permit

In order to sell tobacco products, you are required to have an Ontario tobacco retail dealer's permit. If you plan on importing tobacco products, you will also need an importer's registration certificate.

Stocking or selling illegal (or contraband) cigarettes that do not have an Ontario tax mark (yellow tear strip) is prohibited. Unauthorized possession of unmarked cigarettes may result in penalties, fines, imprisonment and forfeiture of the product.

There are also other commercial activities in the tobacco sector that require registration with the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

Contact the Ministry of Finance:
1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297)
Basic rules for tobacco retail dealers
Application for Tobacco Retail Dealer's Permit
Contraband tobacco 
Tobacco Tax

Tobacco control

If you plan to produce or import tobacco products, or plan to allow the consumption of tobacco products in areas under federal control, make sure you are complying with Health Canada’s tobacco regulations.

Contact Health Canada: 
Regulating tobacco and vaping products

Trade certification

In Ontario, you need to be certified to work in certain trades. If you or your employees will be working in the trades, you must ensure that you meet any mandatory certification requirements. Examples of trade positions that require training or certification include:

  • Automotive electronic accessory technician
  • Electrician: domestic & rural
  • Refrigeration & air conditioning systems mechanic
  • Crane operators
  • Sheet metal workers
  • Plumber
  • Hairstylist

You can often become certified in your trade even if certification is not mandatory. A complete listing of regulated trades and more information about mandatory and voluntary trade certification is available from Skilled Trades Ontario.

Contact Skilled Trades Ontario:
Skilled Trades Ontario

Media usage

Media related industries, like music, movies, television broadcasts, phone services and internet services are regulated in Canada. If your business will be offering, using or working with these types of media, it is important to be aware of the following:

Telecommunications regulations

If you work in the telecommunications industry, including television and radio broadcasting, you should contact the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for information on the regulations that may apply to your business.

Contact CRTC:

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:

Financial transactions and loans

Many types of financial transactions are regulated in Canada. If your business offers financial services or works with businesses that do (e.g. accounting or legal services), you should consult the following:

Financial transactions and reporting

You are required to report certain types of business transactions, including:

  • Large financial transfers
  • Currency exchange
  • Securities
  • Insurance
  • Real estate
  • Sale of precious metals and stones
  • Dealing in virtual currency
  • Certain payment services (including invoicing)
  • Crowdfunding platforms

Contact Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC):
Guidance and resources for businesses (reporting entities)

Financial services regulations

If you have a financial service business, such as a credit union, insurance company or mortgage brokerage, contact the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) for information on licensing and regulations.

Contact FSRA: 
FSRA – For industry

Payday lenders and loan brokers’ licences

You must be licensed if you provide payday loans or broker services.

Contact Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery:
A guide for payday lenders

Environmental regulations and inspections

You may need to follow environmental regulations and meet certain environmental standards depending on your business activities.

Common environmental regulations that apply to businesses in Ontario include:

Ontario Environmental Compliance Approval (ECA)

You will need an Environmental Compliance Approval from the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) if your business:

  • Releases contaminants (pollutants) into the air, onto land, or into water
  • Provides potable water supplies
  • Stores, transports or disposes waste

Contact MECP:
Environmental approvals

Permits to take water

Learn about permits that are required if your business takes more than 50,000 litres of water a day from a lake, river, stream or groundwater source.

Read online:
Permits to take water

Drinking water

Learn about the rules, reporting requirements, certification, licensing, registration and permits for water systems in Ontario, including wells and wastewater.

Read online:
Drinking water

Wild animal and plant trade

If you will be importing, exporting or transporting certain wild animal or plant species, you must obtain the appropriate documents (e.g., licences, permits). The regulations apply to all protected plants or animals, alive or dead, as well as to their parts and any derived products.

Contact Environment and Climate Change Canada:
Wild animal and plant protection

Firearms, fireworks and explosives

The use of firearms and explosives is regulated in Canada. Additional regulations will apply to your business if you buy or sell firearms, fireworks or explosives.

Explosives Regulatory Division

You must obtain a permit to manufacture, store or use fireworks and explosives devices.

Contact Natural Resources Canada:
613- 948-5200
Explosives, fireworks and ammunition

Canadian Firearms Program

Your business must be licensed to buy, sell, import, export or display firearms and munitions. You may need additional licences and permits if your business will be using restricted weapons or firearms.

Contact the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP):
Importing and exporting firearms, firearm parts and ammunition
Information and services for businesses


When doing business online, there are a number of legal requirements that you should be aware of, such as providing secure credit and debit card transactions. Make sure you know the rules for selling to customers outside of Ontario, creating contracts at a distance and any taxation that may apply. 

Read online:
E-business, security, privacy and legal requirements  

Privacy and protection of personal information

There are rules that you must follow if you collect, use, store and protect client information. These rules cover information like contact information, medical records and correspondence (email, fax, letters).

You can learn more about privacy and your business from the following resources:

Personal information protection

Find out what client information you can collect, use, or disclose while doing business, and what responsibilities you have to protect this information.

Contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada:
Privacy Guide for Businesses
Privacy topics
What you need to know about mandatory reporting of breaches of security safeguards

Medical record regulations

Find out what your obligations are if your business will be handling medical records, or working with organizations involved in the collection of health information.

Contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario:
Collection, use, and disclosure of personal health information

Personal information collection

If you run a business that collects personal information (e.g. collection agencies, consumer reporting agencies, personal information investigators), you need to be licensed with the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery (MPBSD). 

Contact MPBSD:
Ministry and administrative authority application, licence and permit forms

Other resources

The information and resources provided in this guide are a first step towards learning about the regulations that can affect your business. You may want to consult the following resources for additional information:

Provincial laws, regulations, consultations, and announcements

Federal laws, regulations, consultations, and announcements

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