A REQUIREMENT, NOT AN OPTION
In the majority of cases, registering the name of your business is a legal requirement and not an option. You will need proof of registration to open a bank account, apply for loans, and many other financial transactions. One of the few exceptions to this rule is sole proprietorship operated under your name. In this instance, your exact legal name must be used, with no additions such as “Inc.”, “Co.”or “& Partners”. You would also be unable to add anything to the name that indicates the type of business you are running. We always suggest consulting a lawyer to help you navigate your options.
If you are planning on operating a sole proprietorship under your own name, you may still wish to consider registering with a different name if your business is one that might expand and require you to take on partners or employees, or if you intend on eventually incorporating. You might also find that your name is not easily found by customers, due to being very common, difficult to remember, or hard to spell.
DECISIONS TO MAKE
Your first step in registering your business is simply to determine the type of business ownership (corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, etc.) and the name that you wish to register under. From there, you will need to follow the guidelines appropriate to your own provincial authority. In BC, you would use BC Registry Services.
Begin with a name search, to ensure that the name you have chosen is unique. You will also want to consider a name that provides information of what your business is about for marketing purposes, as well as being something easily remembered by potential customers. You may wish to get a NUANS (New Upgraded Automated Name Search) report, which is a Canada-wide registry of business names, that will list companies and corporations with business names similar to what you have chosen.
Following this, you will need to submit a Name Approval Request Form to have the name approved by the provincial Corporate Registry before it can be registered.
Once you have chosen a name and it has been approved, you will need to register with your provincial authority. The manner in which you do this depends on the type of business ownership you have chosen. In the case of sole proprietorship and partnerships, you would fill in the appropriate registration forms and pay the required fee. In the case of a corporation, however, you will be required to prepare Articles of Incorporation and an application for incorporation, in addition to paying your fee. You will also have to consider whether you are seeking a federal incorporation, or a provincial one.
Federal Incorporation will allow you to do business across Canada, using the same business name in each province, even if there is another, similarly-named corporation doing business there. Provincial Incorporation only entitles you to do business in that area, with no name protection outside the province or jurisdiction in which it is registered.
The type of ownership you are planning and your future company goals will help dictate if and how to register your business. For further information on the requirements for registration, you can check out BC Registry Services, however, we would further recommend that you always seek the advice of a lawyer should you choose to incorporate.
**This blog is for information only and not to be used as tax advice or planning. Information is subject to change without notice.