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Business Registration in BC

Part 2: Business Name Registration BC

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Business Registration in BC

Choosing a business name

Image (c) George Doyle / Getty Images

Step 3: Fill out the Name Approval Request Form

This also needs to be done before you go through the actual Registration process.

The main purpose of the Name Approval Request Form is to reserve a name for your business use. (Note that reserving a name, or even registering a business under that particular name, does not grant the business name any special protection. For instance, people in other provinces may register similar business names.)

Other than some basic information, such as name, address and the nature of your business, the form asks you to list three business name choices.

You can think of a business name as having three parts:

  • a distinctive element
  • a descriptive element
  • a corporate designation

If you are registering a sole proprietorship or partnership, your business name will consist of just the first two parts.

The distintive element is “a distinctive non-descriptive word or phrase, for example a geographical location, your name, a made up word or phrase, initials” (BC Corporate Registry).

The descriptive element is the part of the business name that usually describes the nature or type of business.

The corporate designation is composed of those words that state a company’s legal structure, such as Limited, Incorporated, or Corporation. Using the abbreviations for these words is allowed.

So if I choose the business name Qualicum Beach Antiques, “Qualicum Beach” is the distinctive element of the name while “Antiques” is the descriptive element. If I was planning to incorporate this business when I registered it, I might choose a name such as Qualicum Beach Antiques Ltd., including a corporate designation in my business name.

For more about business name elements and the types of names you are allowed to create for each form of business, see the instructions section of the Name Approval Request Form.

Business Name Registration BC Tips

Be sure you do choose three possible names. If you just list one, and it’s taken already, you’ve basically thrown your fee away.

Also be sure to list your business name choices in order of preference. When your Name Approval Request Form is processed, the Ministry will only search until a choice is approved, or all are rejected. So only your first choice will be searched, if that name is available.

Step 4: File the Name Approval Request Form

Once you’ve filled out the Name Approval Request form carefully, you can take it back to your local Government Agent or Business Centre or mail it to the Corporate Registry at:

PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria BC, V8W 9V3.

(If you live in Victoria and want to deliver it in person, the street address is 940 Blanshard Street.)

Filing the Name Approval Request Form will cost you $30 (at all OneStop Government Agent offices or the Corporate Registry). If you file your Name Approval Request through another agency, such as a Community Future office or Chamber of Commerce, you will pay more - anywhere from $32 to $56.75, currently.)

It usually takes about three working days for the name approval request to be processed. You can pay an additional fee for priority service which usually has a 24 hour turnaround. The results of the search will be mailed to you, or given to you over the phone if you’ve dealt with a local government agent. If one of the business names you submitted was approved, it will be reserved for you for 56 days.

If you don’t complete the BC business name registration procedure during this time, your name reservation will expire and you’ll have to go through the whole procedure again (and pay another fee)!

Even if your name request is successful, the Corporate Registry advises you not to spend any money advertising, getting new business cards printed or otherwise investing in your new name, as the name is only reserved. Save your money until your business name registration in BC is completed.

It would be really painful to spend money advertising a name that someone else ended up using, wouldn’t it? In the same vein, you should note that the names of sole proprietorships and partnerships have no statutory name protection; only the names of corporations are protected.

Now that you have your business name, you're ready to register your business. The next page explains the BC business registration procedure. Click to continue reading...

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