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The process of getting a Money Transmitter Licence in Canada

Uchi Uchibeke
Director of Developer Experience @Coil
・3 min read

Suppose you're building an app or product in the FinTech sector for Canada. This article is a step-by-step guide to get a Money Transmitter license in Canada (Or register a Money Services Business in Canada). Registering as a Money Services Business also allows you to deal in virtual currencies or cryptocurrencies in Canada. In that case, this article is a starting point for figuring out some parts of the regulatory hurdle, especially if you do not live in Canada.

As a disclaimer, the following is my opinion based on my experience getting the MSB license for Chimoney in Canada and other jurisdictions. And is tailored to folks in tech looking for an overview of the process. Seek advice from your legal counsel because your mileage might vary.

The Canadian Business route

With this route, your Startup has to be or already incorporated in Canada.

Getting Canadian Incorporation

It takes about 24 hours and can be completed online. You will need a Canadian or Permanent resident of Canada as a board member to register a federal corporation.

Start and complete the process at ic.gc.ca. And make the CAD 200 payment with a card or bank.

And you should get your Business registration within one business day. Sometimes, it gets processed on the same day if you do it early.

Register as a Money Services Business (MSB)

First, determine if your Business is a Money Services Business (MSB). If you're ready for this, your Business is probably an MSB, and you should register with The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). See fintrac-canafe.gc.ca to learn more.

Complete the form, and you will get contacted by FINTRAC via a phone call. It will take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks. So brace yourself for the wait and keep your phone close. Maybe there is a way to expedite this, but I do not know-how. People in the legal profession might know. During the first call with FINTRAC, you will go over your business details and what kind of MSB you want to register. You will be assigned a user profile and password to submit your MSB business details, including your corporation details and the details of the directors.

Then you wait for a few more gets to get your Money Services Business (MSB) number. That's it!

See the June 1, 2021 change in regulation to stay up to date with the latest changes.

The Foreign Entity route

Incorporate a new company in Canadian

Incorporate in Canada

You will need to speak with a lawyer for advice on structuring your Business because there are many ways to do it. For example, you could register a foreign-controlled Canadian company. So, please, contact legal counsel for this.

Register your new Canadian corporation as a Money Services Business (MSB)

Once you have a Canadian business, whether a subsidiary or other structure registered, follow the Register as a Money Services Business (MSB) above to register your new Business as an MSB in Canada.

Register your Foreign Entity as a Foreign Money Services Business (MSB) in Canada

With this approach, you do not need a Canadian corporation to register a Money Services Business in Canada. You can register a Foreign Money Services Business. All you need to do is follow the FINTRAC guide to get registered. Unfortunately, I do not have first-hand experience doing so I cannot break it down step by step.

Alternatively, buy a Canadian corporation with the license and has banking, payment processing, and payout already set up. It might be cheaper to go with this route!

Also, the latest information about this can be found at fintrac-canafe.gc.ca, in case the process or regulations change. So check there before making any decision.

Good luck!

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