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Does Québec MSB Licensing Apply to Me?

We recently sought clarification from the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), Québec’s provincial regulator, on when money services businesses (MSBs) need to be licensed in Québec.  The Québec licensing process is completely separate from the federal MSB registration with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC).  The full text of the response that we received appears below this blog entry.

Are You Required To Be Licensed in Québec?

To determine whether or not you need to be licensed in Québec, we’ve developed a chart:

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If you are offering any of the defined MSB services to people of organizations in Québec (including via the web) you are expected to be licensed as an MSB in that province.

The AMF has announced that digital currency exchanges and ATMs are also regulated under the MSB Act.

How Can You Become Licensed And What Does It Cost?

Before you apply for an MSB license, you must obtain a Québec Enterprise Number from the Enterprise Registrar.  This is a unique numeric identifier that you will use when dealing with Québec government agencies and business partners.  The registration process will cost approximately CAD 34.00 and will require you to provide documents such as your articles of incorporation.  We recommend that you speak with your tax professional about the implications of registering as an enterprise in Québec, as it is likely that you will need to consider this in future tax filings.  You can access the registration site here.

Next, you’ll need to apply for your Québec MSB license.  The AMF has developed a user guide that explains the process in plain language.  You must have a respondent (someone acting on your behalf) in the province of Québec.  If you do not have any physical operations in Québec, the respondent  can be a third party that you trust, such as a lawyer, paralegal, accountant, consultant  or other professional that will act on your behalf.  A licensing fee of CAD 650.00 applies to each category of product or service that you offer (except for ATMs).  This means that the total fee for this stage will range from CAD 650.00 to CAD 2600.00.

In addition, MSBs that operate ATMs will be required to pay a fee of CAD 216.00 per ATM machine (located in the province of Québec) later in the process.

In addition to these fees, specific security clearance fees are required.  These include CAD 121.00 for the enterprise and each of the following (that apply to your business):

  • The Respondent;
  • Officers;
  • Directors;
  • Partners;
  • Branch managers;
  • Any person or entity who directly or indirectly owns or controls the money-services business;
  • Employees working in Québec (unless they are not involved in any of the MSB business);
  • Mandataries (who are responsible for the money services offered on behalf of the MSB);
  • Officers of the mandataries;
  • Any lender that is not a financial institution; and
  • For any lender that is not a financial institution or a natural person, lender is not a natural person, its officers, directors or partners.

You must obtain consent and information from each of these individuals in order to complete the security clearance process.  You must also assemble and submit corporate documents for your MSB, including:

  • Business plan and description of business activities;
  • Financial statements;
  • Document showing legal structure of the business;
  • Document confirming appointment of respondent; and
  • Document showing corporate structure of the business.

You should expect the application process to take six to eight weeks if all of the forms are filled out completely and correctly.  It can take significantly longer if your applications are missing information or signatures.  We recommend looking over all of your documents carefully before you submit them and reaching out proactively to the AMF if you have questions about how to complete the application forms.

Need A Hand?

Many MSBs have successfully gone through this process on their own (you don’t need to hire a lawyer or consultant), but if you want a hand assembling your package and communicating with the AMF we’re happy to assist – please contact us.

Full Text Of AMF Response

As discussed earlier, any entity who executes from Québec or makes available the following money services for the people of Québec has to submit an application in order to have the Autorité des marchés financiers release a Money services business (MSB) licence:

  • Currency exchange;
  • Funds transfer (over the counter or internet);
  • Issue / redemption of traveller’s cheque, money order, bank drafts.
  • Cheque cashing
  • Operation of ATM

A corporation does not have to have an establishment, an address, a post office box or even a telephone line in Québec for it to be considered as carrying an activity in Québec as long as it conducts business for a profit. It is often the case for corporations acting in the funds transfer category.

 The first step towards registration for a MSB should first be registration as a corporate entity with the Registraire des entreprises ( This will provide a corporation number (NEQ) to the registrant that will be required for application purposes.

 Afterwards will come the submission of the E-services access form by its appointed respondent (see section 5 of the MSB Act) along with a payment of 614$ for each money services category to appear on the licence.

 All info and documentation is available on our website (

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