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Do I Need to Register My Business?

ON October 10, 2017


When starting out a new business venture, there are a great many things to consider. One such consideration is whether or not to register your business name. In most situations, you will actually be required to do so.

A Legal Requirement in Most Cases

In most cases, registering your business will not be an option; you will be required to do so. Registration will be important for you, as it is required to open bank accounts, apply for loans, and other financial transactions.
In the case of a sole proprietorship operated under your name, however, this may not be required. In such circumstances, the business must be under your exact legal name, without the addition of “Co.” or “Inc.” or “& Partners”. You must also exclude anything that indicates the type of business that you are operating.
Other exclusions to this rule are partnerships and sole proprietorships being operated under a name other than your own legal name in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Should you choose to operate a sole proprietorship under your legal name, take a moment to consider your future plans. If, at some point you anticipate expanding in such a way that would require incorporating or taking partners, you should register under a different name. Likewise, this would be a wise choice if your name is very common, easily misspelled, or hard to remember, as any of those could make it difficult for potential customers to find you.

Some Decisions to Make

Before you can register your name, you will need to determine what that name is, and also the type of business ownership—such as corporation, partnership, etc—that you intend to register under. Once that is done, you will need to follow the guidelines of the province in which you are operating.
As part of choosing a name, you should think of one that is easily remembered, while somehow signifying the type of business you are running. You will also want to verify that your name is unique. 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. Once you have settled upon a name, you will be required to submit a Name Approval Request Form in order to be approved by the provincial corporate registry.

After all of this has been done and your name has been approved, you will have to register with your provincial authority. If you are planning to register a sole proprietorship or partnership, fill in the appropriate registration forms and pay the required fee. If, however, you are registering a corporation, you will need to prepare Articles of Incorporation and an application for incorporation, in addition to paying the fee. It will be necessary to decide whether you are seeking Federal Incorporation, or Provincial.
Federal Incorporation will grant you the ability to operate Canada-wide under the same name in each province, even where there is another similarly-named corporation doing business. Provincial Incorporation simply allows you to do business in the chosen province, with no name protection in other provinces or territories.

Final Thoughts

Given that in most cases you will be required to register, the main consideration for your business will likely be the type of ownership you are planning, as well as any future goals you have in mind. Further information on the requirements for registration can be found with your province’s authority.

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