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Starting a business in Montreal

Expert: Melissa Bendahan

Tim asked:

Currently I am a Licensed General Contractor in California and I am interested in starting a basic, self-employed business in Montreal. I am interested in knowing what type of visa, or legal regulations must I go threw in order to start business there? Of course down the road I would be looking to expand my business and utilize local employees.

Melissa Bendahan answered:

For the purposes of your questions, we shall assume that you will incorporate a private company. You may incorporate either federally or provincially. A private company that is incorporated federally may operate nationally or in many provinces, but must still register as an extra-provincial company in each province in which it does business. A provincial incorporation is often chosen if you will carry on business in a single province, to keep costs down.

You must incorporate or register your company with the Registraire des entreprises du Quйbec. We invite you to visit the Registraire des entreprises du Quйbec's Web Site at for further information.

Next, you must obtain a contractor's licence and pass the related examinations, if applicable. We invite you to visit the Rйgie du bвtiment du Quйbec's Web Site at for further information.

You must also register your company with the Commission de la construction du Quйbec, unless you are subcontracting the work. We invite you to visit its Web Site at for further information.

In addition to all of the foregoing, note that Quebec's Building Code and various municipal by-laws and regulations may apply to the type of building built in a given area, quality, durability and security standards of buildings.

Please note that under the Quebec Charter of the French Language, companies that are incorporated in Quebec must adopt a corporate French name and companies that are extra-provincially incorporated but registered in Quebec must adopt a French version of their corporate name. Moreover, the Charter of the French Language and various regulations impose the use of French in various communications and when doing business. We invite you to visit the Office quйbйcois de la langue franзaise's Web Site at for further information.

Finally, note that various employment and labour related laws and regulations will apply if your company decides to hire employees, such as an Act Respecting labour relations, vocational training and workforce management in the construction industry and an Act respecting occupational health and safety. Moreover, please note that at least 4 sectors of the construction industry are governed by collective agreements: a) the civil enginerring and road system sector; b) the industrial sector; c) the institutional and commercial sector; and d) the residential sector.

To work in Quebec as a self-employed worker, an application for permanent residency must be filed with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Such application may be processed either through the regular or simplified application procedure. We invite you to visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website at for further information.

If you apply for permanent residency under the regular procedure then you may benefit from Quebec's self-employment program. For more information about this program, please visit the following Web Sites and .

About the author

Melissa Bendahan, Lawyer, DAVIS LLP | Legal Advisors since 1892.

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