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What is a Money Service Business license in Canada?

Money Service Businesses (MSBs) in Canada are entities that provide a range of financial services, such as money transfers, currency exchange, money orders and trading in virtual currency. A Money Service Business license in Canada is a legal requirement that allows MSBs to operate in the country.

Money Service Business license in Canada

MSBs are required to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) to obtain the license. This license ensures that MSBs meet specific regulatory standards and adhere to anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CTF) laws and regulations.

Understanding the Money Service Business license in Canada

A Money Service Business (MSB) license is a legal document issued by the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Its purpose is to regulate and oversee businesses that engage in financial transactions through the provision of various money services. These services can include money transfer, currency exchange, cheque cashing, and trading in virtual currency,among others.

The MSB license is designed to ensure that businesses operating in the Canadian financial sector operate in compliance with regulatory standards. The license serves as proof that a business has met all the requirements necessary to operate in this industry.

The scope of an MSB license is broad. It includes any type of business that engages in money services in Canada, regardless of the method used to conduct transactions. This can include businesses that operate offline, online, or through mobile platforms.

Understanding the definition of a Money Service Business

The definition of a Money Service Business in Canada is broad and encompasses any entity that provides one or more of the following services:

  • Money transfer
  • Currency exchange
  • Cheque cashing
  • Traveler’s cheques
  • Prepaid debit/credit cards
  • Virtual currency exchange

It is also important to note that even if a business provides one or more of these services as a secondary aspect of their operations, they may still require a Money Service Business license to legally operate in Canada.

Eligibility criteria for obtaining an MSB license

Before applying for a Money Service Business (MSB) license in Canada, businesses must ensure they meet the eligibility criteria set by the regulatory authorities. Here are the key requirements that businesses need to meet:

Business Structure

Firstly, businesses must have a legal structure that is registered in Canada, either as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or co-operative. Non-profit organizations are not eligible to apply for an MSB license. Additionally, the business must have a physical presence in Canada, such as an office or a registered address.

Compliance Program

Secondly, businesses must have a comprehensive compliance program in place, with policies and procedures to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The program must also include risk assessments, employee training, record-keeping practices, and independent audits.

Owners and Directors

Thirdly, the owners and directors of the business must pass a background check to ensure they do not have a criminal record or any involvement in illegal activities, such as drug trafficking or financial fraud. They must also possess the necessary skills and experience to manage an MSB, along with a good reputation in the community. Moreover, directors and AML responsible people do not have to be local if the company is registered in British Colombia or Ontario.

Financial Resources

Fourthly, businesses must have sufficient financial resources to operate an MSB, including capital reserves, insurance coverage, and access to banking services. The regulatory authorities may request financial statements or credit reports to verify the business’s financial standing and ability to meet its obligations.

Meeting these eligibility criteria is crucial for businesses looking to obtain an MSB license in Canada. By demonstrating compliance with regulatory standards and possessing the necessary resources, owners can enhance their business’s credibility and reputation, and gain the trust of their clients and customers.

Capital Requirements

Minimum capital is not determined by the supervising authority, but it is advisable to deposit and pay a certain amount of the authorized capital in order to show the regulator the seriousness of intentions for business planning and development.

Canadian MSB license

Application process for a Money Service Business license

Once you have ensured that your business meets the eligibility criteria for an MSB license, the next step is to apply for the license. The process for obtaining a Money Service Business license in Canada involves the following steps:

  1. Complete the application form: The first step is to fill out the application form for the MSB license. You can obtain the form from the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) website or request a hard copy.
  2. Gather required documentation: Along with the application form, you will need to provide various documents to support your application, including proof of identity, business registration documents, and a compliance program.
  3. Pay the application fee: There is a non-refundable application fee of $250 CAD that you must pay before your application can be processed.
  4. Submit the application: Once you have completed the application form and gathered all the required documentation, you can submit your application to FINTRAC. You can do this either online or by mail.
  5. Wait for processing: After submitting your application, the next step is to wait for it to be processed. The processing time for an MSB license application can vary, but generally takes between 30 to 120 days.
  6. Receive the license: If your application is approved and all requirements have been met, FINTRAC will issue you an MSB license. The license is valid for two years from the date of issue and must be renewed before it expires.

It is important to note that the application process for an MSB license can be complex and time-consuming. It is recommended that you seek professional legal and financial advice to ensure that your application is completed correctly and in a timely manner.

Money Service Business License Application

Benefits of having a Money Service Business license

Obtaining a Money Service Business (MSB) license in Canada can bring numerous advantages to your business. Here are just a few of the key benefits:

Enhanced credibility

Having an MSB license can enhance your business’s credibility and reputation within the financial sector. It signifies that you have met regulatory standards and are committed to providing quality services to your customers.

Expanded customer base

With an MSB license, your business is able to provide a wider range of financial services to your customers. This can attract new customers who are looking for a one-stop-shop for all their financial needs.

Increased trust

By obtaining an MSB license, your business demonstrates a commitment to transparency and accountability in its financial operations. This can foster trust and confidence in your customers, who will feel more comfortable entrusting their financial needs to your business.

Access to banking services

Holding an MSB license also opens up opportunities for your business to access additional banking services, such as loans and lines of credit.

Overall, obtaining a Money Service Business license in Canada can bring numerous benefits and advantages to your business. It can help enhance your reputation, expand your customer base, and foster trust in your financial operations.

Canadian Money Service Business

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Money Service Business licenses

Are there any penalties for operating as an MSB without a license in Canada?


Yes, there are penalties for operating as an MSB without a license in Canada. It is illegal to operate as an MSB without a license, and violators are subject to fines and even imprisonment.

How long does it take to obtain an MSB license in Canada?


The length of time it takes to obtain an MSB license in Canada varies depending on various factors. The application process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months. It is crucial to ensure that all required documentation and fees are in order to avoid delays.

Do I need to renew my MSB license in Canada?


Yes, all businesses holding an MSB license in Canada must renew their license periodically. The renewal process involves submitting updated documentation and fulfilling any outstanding requirements to ensure continuous compliance with regulatory standards.

Can I operate as an MSB in multiple provinces in Canada with one license?


No, businesses operating as an MSB in multiple provinces in Canada must obtain separate licenses for each province they wish to operate in. Each province has its own regulatory standards and requirements that must be met.

What types of businesses can obtain an MSB license in Canada?


A wide range of businesses can obtain an MSB license in Canada, including money transmitters, currency exchange dealers, and foreign exchange dealers. However, businesses must meet specific eligibility criteria and comply with regulatory standards to qualify for the license.

Be sure to discover more and ask for information on the dedicated Canada MSB, an alternative to European EMI license page.