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Business Registration in Nova Scotia

Part 1: Registering a Business Name

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If you want to register a business in Nova Scotia, your first decision is the same as it would be in any other province; you need to decide how your business is going to be legally organized.

Are you going to register a business as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation? (For the differences between these forms of business, see Choosing a Form of Business Ownership). The business registration procedure, and associated fees and responsibilities are different for each form of business.

Not all businesses need business registration in Nova Scotia. For instance, if you’re going to operate a sole proprietorship and use your own name as your business name, with no additions, you don’t need to go through business registration. (Although business registration is required for sole proprietorships if you plan to operate under another name, or add a qualifier to your name, such as “and Associates”.)

You also don't need to register a business name if your business will be a partnership involved in farming or fishing, or if your corporation, partnership, or business name is already registered in New Brunswick.

The first step in business registration in Nova Scotia is to reserve your business name. To do this, you need to submit your chosen business name and other pertinent information to the Nova Scotia Registry Of Joint Stock Companies, which will conduct a name search. If the name search is successful (i.e. the business name is deemed appropriate and distinctive), the business name will be reserved for your use for 90 days. If it's unsuccessful, you'll need to file another Name Reservation Request and go through the procedure again.

Nova Scotia now offers online business registration services; you can submit your Name Reservation Request online at The Nova Scotia Business Registry. If you prefer, you can download, print off, and fill out the Name Reservation Request Form, and take it to any Nova Scotia Access Centre or send it to the Nova Scotia Registry Of Joint Stock Companies.

Besides deciding what business name to submit, you also need to decide which type of business name search to have done; you can have an Atlantic Canada name search (which costs $48.99 including HST), or a Canada-wide name search (which costs $61.24 including HST). If your proposed name starts with the word “Canadian”, the choice is made for you; you must have a Canada-wide search done.

To find out whether or not your proposed business name is accepted, you can call 902-424-7770 (press 1, then 1, then 4) after two business days. If the business name is reserved for you, remember that you only have 90 days to register your business under that reserved name.

Now that you're ready to register your business, let's look at the business registration process for different forms of business. Continue on to the next page to learn about the business registration procedure for a sole proprietorship or partnership in Nova Scotia.

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