RIBO registered firms are reminded to keep their Trade Name registration with Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery active. Using an inactive trade name is considered an offence under the Ontario Business Names Actand an act of misconduct under subsection 15.1 (6) of Regulation 991 made under the Registered Insurance Brokers Act. Included in this article is important information about using trade names.
Why Firms Need to Register a Trade Name
It is considered an act of misconduct under subsection 15.1 (6) of Regulation 991 made under the Registered Insurance Brokers Act if a corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship holds itself out to the public under a name that is not registered with RIBO. Additionally, it is an offence under section 2 of the Business Names Act, to do business or identify the firm to the public without registering the trade name.
RIBO Bylaw No. 20 requires that any changes to the firm’s information that is filed with RIBO be reported to RIBO within 30 days of the change. This includes any instance where the firm is operating under a new trade name or when the firm ceases to use a trade name.
RIBO will only register trade names for active firm registrations. RIBO will not register trade names for non-actives firms as they cannot hold themselves out to the public for insurance sales and their name must not be advertised on any signage, letterhead, business card, website, or any other form to the public.
Using Trade Names
Any time the firm identifies itself through advertisements, business cards, letterheads, signs, websites, or other methods such as on the policy documents provided to customers must refer to the firm in a manner that is consistent with its registered name.
A trade name can be reflected in one of two ways, and it is interchangeable as demonstrated through the following example:
- Excellent Insurance Brokerage Worldwide Ltd. O/A Excellent Insurance Brokerage Canada; or, Excellent Insurance Brokerage Canada O/B Excellent Insurance Brokerage Worldwide Ltd.
In addition, RIBO expects firms to include the full registered name (both the original and trade name of the business) in all public-facing media.
Registering a Trade Name
Firms interested in registering a trade name may do so either through applying online at Ontario.ca/BusinessRegistry or mailing the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery (“MPBSD”) (formerly the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services) a Business Name Registration application. Prior to sending the business name application, it is highly recommended that you search the Ontario Business Name Registry to ensure that no other entity is using that name.
Once you have been issued a Business Name Registration certificate from the MPBSD you will be invited to register the trade name with RIBO. Please send a copy of the business name registration certificate to email@example.com and a staff member will send you a confirmation email once it has been added to your firm’s profile.
Please note, that RIBO staff will review whether the name clearly indicates that firm is an insurance brokerage and that it cannot be confused as an insurance agency or another type of business such as a real estate brokerage.
Once your trade name is registered the MPBSD issue you a Business Name Registration for a Corporation (see below example) document.
Keeping Your Trade Name Active
Your trade name registration with MPBSD expires after 5 years and must be renewed at least 60 days prior to the expiration date otherwise you risk penalties and the trade name being deregistered. You can log-in to your firm’s ServiceOntario account to renew your business name registration at any time. If you require assistance, you can contact ServiceOntario for more information.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org a Business Name Registration form with an updated expiry date once you receive it.
As of October 2021, the Master Business License is no longer issued by MPBSD. If you have a Master Business License, it remains valid until it expires or is cancelled.
Inactive Trade Names
Once the trade name registration becomes inactive your firm is not permitted to use that name to do business or identify itself to the public. Failure to immediately remove the trade name may result in an investigation by RIBO Complaint and Investigate staff and/or your firm may be subject to a fine under the Business Names Act.
If you no longer use a trade name and/or allowed a trade name to become inactive, please email email@example.com to update your firm’s information.
Errors & Omissions and Fidelity Policies
As a reminder, please ensure that all registered tradenames, past and current, appear on the firm’s Errors & Omissions and Fidelity policies. This ensures the firm is adequately covered under those insurance policies if a claim is ever made.