Registering a Business in British Columbia, Canada
By Julie King | March 31, 2000
The process of registering a business varies from province to province. Here's an overview of how you would register a business in British Columbia, based on information available as of 2016.
This article was updated January 14, 2016.
STEP 1: SELECTING THE TYPE OF BUSINESS
The first step is to identify what type of business you want to operate, and the type of identity (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation) that will meet your needs. A lawyer or accountant should be consulted if you are not sure which type of business best meets your needs.
In British Columbia, you will need to register your business with the Corporate Registry, which according to the Corporate Registry website, provides "... the legal framework and files documents for the incorporation, registration, maintenance & dissolution of companies, Societies & Cooperatives doing business or active in British Columbia.”
The Corporate Registry has its own web site at http://www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/bcreg/corppg/index.page.
The corporate directory - (604) 775-1041 - is a free telephone service that provides information on: the Corporate Registry addresses; name reservations; sole proprietorship and partnership registrations; incorporation; incorporating a society; forms; fees and corporate searches. We used this service to determine the steps you would need to take to register a business in British Columbia.
STEP 2: RESERVING YOUR BUSINESS NAME
The first step in registering your business is to reserve your business name. Here is an overview of how to process a name request. (Please note that sole proprietorship and partnership names are not protected, so that several businesses can use the same name.)
Obtain a name approval request form. You may download the form from (http://www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/local/bcreg/documents/forms/0708bfill.pdf) or you can order a form through (604) 775-1041, or you can pick one up from the Corporate Registry, Canada Business Network-British Columbia Business Service Centre at Suite 54, 601 West Cordova St. in Vancouver, or the nearest Government Agents office.
The registrar recommends that you read the instructions carefully, as a properly completed form will save you both time and money.
You are now ready to fill out a name approval request form. There are some specific guidelines for choosing a name that you'll need to be aware of. Here is an overview of the current naming guidelines:
The name must have 2 components. The first part of the name must start with a distinctive, non-descriptive word or phrase. This can be your name, a geographic location, an invented word or phrase or initials. For example, John Smith, Vancouver, and Wazomozu would all be acceptable. The second part of the name must describe your type of business - for example, laundromat, bookstore or bookkeeping. So, while the business name Wazomozu Bookkeeping would be an acceptable submission, Bookkeeping Wazomozu, would not.
As well, if you are incorporating a company, you must add a third component, which is called the corporate designation. Corporate designations include: Incorporated, Inc., Limited, Ltd., Corporation and Corp. Sole proprietorships and partnerships cannot use any form of corporate designation.
Single name names should be avoided, as should name with special characters (&, %), these name rarely receive approval. Also try to avoid names that have been used by large well-known corporations, as you will need approval from those companies.
When filling out the form, be sure to fill out all information, and to indicate what type of business the name is for. You may submit up to three (3) choices; the registrar strongly suggests that you submit all three choices.
At this point, it is time to review your form carefully to ensure that it has been filled out properly, and to submit it to the Registrar of Companies. Here are your options:
1.Online – if you sign up for a BC Online (https://www.bconline.gov.bc.ca/) account, you may submit your request this way
2.Mail - you can mail your form with the $30 fee (Cheque payable to Ministry of Finance) to:PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC, V8W 9V3
3.In person - you can drop the form off in person at the:Registrar of Companies, 940 Blanshard Street in Victoria
4.You can also submit the form through:
- The Canada-British Columbia Business Service Centre, at 601 West Cordova St in Vancouver
- The nearest Government Agents Office http://www.servicebc.gov.bc.ca/locations/index.html
Payment can be made by cash, cheque or money order, but the registrar asks that you don't send cash in mail.
Processing the name request normally takes two to three working days. Upon approval, the name is held for 56 calendar days. You must submit your declaration form for a sole proprietorship or partnership or your incorporation papers within this time; if not your name reservation will expire and you will need to pay another name reservation fee if you wish to continue.
The registrar points out that you should not invest any money on the name until your company is incorporated, or your sole proprietorship or partnership is registered, as the name is only on reserve and can be canceled prior to incorporation or registration.
STEP 3: REGISTERING YOUR COMPANY
In order to meet the 56 calendar days deadline for the submission of your Declaration Form for a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership, or your incorporation papers, you need to register your company.
Sole Proprietorship / Partnership Registration
To register a sole proprietorship or partnership in British Columbia, you must reserve a name, fill out a 'Declaration for Proprietorship or Partnership Registration Form' and submit your declaration and fee. You will need to obtain a 'Declaration for Proprietorship or Partnership Registration Form' (refer to the sources listed above for the reservation of a business name), ensure that it is properly filled out, and then submit this form along with a fee of $30. You must have your name approved prior to filing your declaration.
A convenient way to register your business in British Columbia is to use one of the province's One-Stop Business Registration stations. It is also available on the internet at: (http://www.bcbusinessregistry.ca/introduction/index.htm). Once you have received your name approval and NR number, and you have met all of the conditions required on the Name Approval form, you can instantly register your proprietorship or partnership online on the OneStop Business Registry website. To use the service you will need to create a login in. There are a number of workstation locations in Vancouver. Submitting your form by mail will add two weeks to the registration process.
Incorporating a Company in British Columbia
Incorporating a company is much more complex than registering a sole proprietorship or partnership; in this situation the services of a lawyer are often required. If you have decided that this is the best type of business for your needs, ask other business owners to refer a trusted professional. Prices may vary considerably, so it is often a good idea to solicit several prices and recommendations before making a final decision.
STEP 4: GETTING THE NECESSARY FORMS
Use these links to download the forms necessary to register your BC-based business:
STEP 5: FEES
The Fee Schedule of the Corporate Registry can be found here.
|Reserve and Approve a name
|Sole Proprietorship Registration
|Incorporation of Ltd.
The above steps and further explanations of how to register your business can be found on the Corporate Registry page for Partnerships and Proprietorships. This page includes a quick checklist as well! The link is here: http://www.bcregistryservices.gov.bc.ca/bcreg/corppg/partnership/index.page?
The BC Corporate Registry has the following online services: