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Registering a business in Quebec:

Expert: Julie King

Gervais asked:

Where can I access the information on what legal & governments requirements are needed to open a small business in the province of Quebec?

Julie King answered:

When registering a business in Quebec, first you need to decide the form of business that is best for you. The most common options are sole proprietorship (one owner), partnership (multiple owners) and a corporation. The registration process will vary depending on the form of business you choose.

Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships

If you decide to operate your business under your own name, Gervais Allen, or your name with an addition, for example Gervais Allen Computer Repairs, you are not required to register. (Quebec is the only province where you not required to register the business if you add additional description words after your full name.) Slightly different rules apply to retailers who sell tobacco products, so be sure to check the rules if you fall into that category.

However, if the name of the business is not your full name, you need to register the business within 60 days of beginning operations.

You can also choose to voluntarily register you business when it is not required. You might do this, for example, so that you can then register for a Quebec Enterprise Number (QEN), which allows you to sign up for Quebec government products and services.

Companies

Different legislation applies to the registration of a "company", which is a corporation. The biggest differences of a corporation compared to sole proprietorships and partnerships are:

  • the company is controlled by a board of directors elected by its shareholders / members;
  • the company is a separate legal entity from its shareholders, which adds legal protection for the owners;
  • there is legal protection for the incorporated name of the company;
  • a company can own asset, sign contracts and take on liabilities (debt);
  • a company must meet specific obligations for things like by-laws, meetings and reporting; and
  • there can be tax advantages or disadvantages to this form of business, depending on the stage of business you are at.

How to Register

As of February 14, 2011 the Enterprise Registrar will be governed by two new statutes:

  • The Act respecting the legal publicity of enterprises. (This consolidates the Act respecting the legal publicity of sole proprietorships, partnerships and legal persons and the Act respecting the enterprise registrar.)
  • The Business Corporation Act. (This modernizes legislation that applies to companies governed by Parts I and IA of the Companies Act.)

Since your inquiry comes just as the transition takes place, you will need to wait until next week in order to be able to access forms needed for registration, as they have all been pulled down from the Enterprise Register website. To use the new registration process, which should be simpler than the previous one, you will need to go to:
http://www.registreentreprises.gouv.qc.ca/.




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