Do You Need to Register Your Business Name?
Yes, in almost all cases. Business registration is a legal requirement, not a choice.
Almost all businesses in Canada must register their business names in their respective provinces or territories except for sole proprietorships that use only the owner's legal name with no additions. (See Do I Need to Register a Business Name?)
Note that Newfoundland and Labrador is the exception to this; in that province no sole proprietorships or partnerships need to have their business names registered.
How to Register a Business Name
The procedure you have to go through to register a business name depends on what form of business you've chosen for your new business. (For information on the different forms of business in Canada, see choose a form of business.)
The basic procedure to register a business name for a sole proprietorship or partnership is to conduct a business name search, fill out the appropriate business registration form, and pay your fee. The Business Registration section of this website has links to all the different provincial registries to speed up this process for you.
Business Registration for Corporations
The procedure to register a business name for a corporation or cooperative is more involved. Besides conducting a name search and getting a NUANS report if you wish to set up a named corporation, you will also have to prepare Articles of Incorporation, a cover letter and an incorporation application to go along with your fee.
How to Incorporate Your Business provides more details on how to register a business name for a corporation and explains the difference between federal and provincial incorporation. If you have questions such as how much does incorporation cost, can you incorporate a business in one province and do business in others or how to set up share classes for your new corporation, see my Incorporation in Canada FAQs. This document also includes links to all the different provincial and territorial corporate registrars if you wish to incorporate in a particular province.
If incorporation is your chosen form of business, you may also wish to read Getting Your New Corporation Up and Running, which explains what you need to do once you've completed the business registration step.
Business Registration in Each Province
Because business registration is governed by the provinces (with the exception of federal incorporation), the details of the procedure to register a business name will differ from place to place.
These articles provide detailed business registration instructions on how to register a business name in each province. Many include links you can use to register your business name online.
The Business Registration section of this website also includes information on how to register a business name in other provinces.
Back to > Steps to Starting a Business