Registering your business 

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As a prospective entrepreneur or new business owner, you are no doubt aware of the importance of spreading the word about your organization. In addition to informing potential customers about your business, you must let the government know about your plans.

You may need to register with several different levels of government for many different reasons. This document provides an overview of the key registration requirements that may apply to your business.

On this page:

Before registering

Before registering your business, you must think about what form of business you want to start and what you want to call your business.

  • Naming your business

    Choose the right name for your business. Your business name should be unique and easy to remember, and should describe the products and services you provide.

  • Corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship?

    Find out which type of business structure is right for your business: incorporation, a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a co-operative.

Business Number

  • Business Number (BN)

    Your Business Number is your single account number for dealing with the federal government regarding taxes, payroll, import/export and other activities.

Provincial and territorial business registration

Most provincial and territorial governments require that you register your business with them.

British Columbia
  • BC Business Registry

    This website will guide you through the steps of registering your sole proprietorship or general partnership business in BC.

  • Community Contribution Company

    Find out how this business structure allows you to pursue social goals while making a profit and providing opportunities to like-minded investors.

  • New West Partnership Trade Agreement

    If your business is located in British Columbia, Alberta, or Saskatchewan, this agreement can save you time as it allows for a seamless business registration between provinces.

Incorporation

If you decide to incorporate your business, you can incorporate federally or provincially.

Federal incorporation allows you to do business under the same name in all provinces and territories, although you may still need to register your business in individual provinces and territories. If you do plan to do business in more than one province or territory now or in the future, you should consider incorporating federally. Before doing so, you need to complete a NUANS name search.

  • NUANS Corporate name search
    Applies only to: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut

    Compare your proposed business name to the names of existing businesses to see if it is unique.

Federal incorporation

Provincial or territorial incorporation

British Columbia
  • BC Business Registry

    This website will guide you through the steps of registering your sole proprietorship or general partnership business in BC.

Permits and licences

You may also require specific permits and licences from the federal, provincial or municipal governments, depending on your location, industry sector, and specific activities that you plan to conduct. Use our permits and licences search to find out which permits and licences might apply to your business.

  • Permits and licences

    Find the federal, provincial/territorial and municipal permits and licences that you may need to start or manage your business.

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