Clearances frequently asked questions

Getting a clearance

What is a clearance?

A clearance is a number issued by the WSIB that shows that a business is registered and up-to-date with us, including keeping current with premium payment and reporting.

What does it mean to be in ‘good standing’?

To be in good standing, you must have:

  • an open account with the WSIB and provided all registration information and required documents
  • the appropriate classification
  • reported  to the WSIB all required premium  amounts  and completed reconciliation, if applicable
  • paid all premiums and other amounts owing

What do you mean by ‘principal’ and ‘contractor’?

A principal is any business that hires another business to do work for them.

A contractor is any business that is hired by another business to do work for them.

The following video explains the relationship between principals and contractors:

What does it mean if a contractor is marked ‘ineligible" in online clearances’?

Contractors marked ‘ineligible’ cannot be issued a clearance number because their account is not up to date with us. See details in the question: What does it mean to be in ‘good standing’?

How do I get or maintain a clearance?

Use our online services to get or find a clearance for yourself, or contractors you work with.

Quick access clearances

  • No log in required
  • Find, view and download your clearances

Log in to our online service for clearances to:

  • Create a list of contractors that you need clearances for
  • View your clearance history
  • Search for current clearances
  • Receive reminder emails

How long are clearances valid for?

Clearances are valid for up to 90 days from the date of issue. You need to make sure that there is a valid clearance in place for the full length of a job. If the work being done lasts longer than the period the clearance is valid for, you can get a new one.

Most clearances expire on the 20th of February, May, August and November each year.

We will automatically issue a new clearance if your account is still in good standing.

What is the cost of a clearance?

We provide clearances at no charge. Most newly registered employers requiring a clearance at the time of registration will need to make an initial advance payment of $250. This payment is applied to your WSIB account as a credit and will be applied towards your future premiums.

Simplified clearances starting September 2019

What is changing about clearance certificates?

As of September 15, 2019, instead of creating specific clearances for each business that a contractor does business with, a clearance will automatically be created for each business that is up to date with us on their premium reporting and payments.

With our upcoming changes, a clearance certificate will include your business information and classification unit(s), but it will not contain specific principal information. Even though their name doesn’t appear on the certificate, principals will have the same assurance that the WSIB will not hold them liable for outstanding amounts their contractor might owe the WSIB for the period the clearance is valid.

Why are we changing clearance certificates?

Our goal is to reduce the amount of time businesses spend on administrative tasks related to their WSIB coverage. Simplifying our clearance process means you can spend more time operating your business.

What happens to my existing clearances?

If you have a clearance certificate that’s valid beyond September 15, a new clearance will automatically be issued for your business effective September 13 with an expiry date of November 19, 2019. The clearance can be used for all principles.

Is the validity period changing?

Clearances will remain valid for up to 90 days.

What does this mean for me as a contractor?

If your account is in good standing, we will automatically issue a clearance for your business and this number will be used for all of your contracts or businesses you work for.

How do I know the contractor I hired is in good standing?

The WSIB issues clearances when an account is in good standing. You can verify clearance certificate numbers through our online services at wsib.ca. You can search by account number, by clearance number or by business information such as name, phone number, address, etc.

Image of search screen showing the different ways people can search

How can I get my builder/contractor’s name on my certificate?

We no longer include the principal information on a clearance certificate.

Principals will have the same assurance that the WSIB will not hold them liable for unpaid premiums and other amounts the subcontractor might owe the WSIB for the validity period of the clearance. Subcontractors will still need to pass the same compliance criteria with the WSIB to be eligible for a generic clearance.

What happens to my contractor lists?

Your contractor lists will still include all of your previously added contractors. Clearances will automatically be created and you can retrieve them directly from your lists as long as the business’ account is in good standing. Using the new Tools sidebar menu, you can get a clearance, manage your contractors, view clearance history and search by certificate number all in one place.

image of a contractor’s list highlighting the tools menu

How do I switch from principle to contractor search?

Principals and contractors can view your clearances in your history and see any previously created lists under “Manage contractor’s list”.

Why do I have multiple clearances with the same certificate number in my history?

Your history will show a copy of the same clearance certificate for every principle list you are on.

My certificate expires in five days. Can I renew it now?

Clearance certificates are valid for up to 90 days. If your account is in good standing, the clearance will automatically renew at the beginning of the next period. You can retrieve it through your online services or in your principal’s list.

Using our online service for clearances

What should I expect after I’ve signed up online services?

You can choose which individual services you’d like to sign up for including, our online service for clearances. Once you sign up, you’ll receive an email and can begin using the service right away. 

Can I use the online service for clearances if I don’t have an online services account?

Yes, you can use our quick access clearances service to find, view and download your clearances. 

How do I email a clearance?

Once you have found a clearance, select Email this clearance (located at the bottom of the page)

  • Your default email account will open and an email with the subject line “WSIB Clearance” will appear
  • Type the email address(s) to which you want to send the clearance, and send the email

How do I check a contractor’s clearance status?

Using our online service for clearances, you can search for a business that is registered with us by business name, telephone, CRA business name, address, city, and/or postal code.

Clearances in construction

Do I always need a clearance if I work in construction?

Yes, clearances must be in place before any construction work begins and for the duration of the work. Both the principal and contractor have legal obligations regarding clearances.

If a clearance is requested for a contractor, but they are marked ineligible, they must bring their account up to date before a clearance is issued.

Is there an exemption from the clearance requirements?

Yes. If a contractor or subcontractor is hired to do home repairs or renovations by a home’s resident, occupant or a member of their family, then a clearance certificate is not required.

Is there a penalty if I don’t get a clearance?

If construction work goes ahead without a valid clearance number, both the contractor and the person/company who hired them (regardless of what industry they work in) are committing an offence. These offences are enforceable, and a maximum fine for a conviction of an offence under the WSIA is $100,000.

What happens when a contractor subcontracts construction work?

If a contractor hires a subcontractor to do construction work, then the contractor becomes the principal to the sub-contractor for that work. The principal must obtain a clearance certificate from the sub-contractor before the work begins and for the duration of the work.

Is a clearance required for a supplier, delivery person or other person(s) providing services on the worksite?

No. A clearance is not needed for anyone who is not a contractor working for a principal. This means delivery drivers, people making drop-offs or pick-ups, technicians servicing or repairing equipment, utility employees, or similar visitors to a building do not need a clearance.