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Registering a Business in Nova Scotia, Canada

By CO Staff @canadaone |

The process of registering a business varies from province to province. Here's an overview of how you would register a business in Nova Scotia, based on information available in April 2007.

This article was updated January 18, 2016.


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.


If you want to run a business in Nova Scotia you will have to register with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies.

Information on what type of business needs to register can be found here

Most companies need to register, however those exempted from this rule are:

  • If you are a New Brunswick corporation or NB partnership/ business names registered in New Brunswick
  • individuals or partners using only their personal names without a descriptive element or attachment such as "and Associates"
  • Partnerships whose sole purpose is farming or fishing 

You can access the Partnerships and Business Names Registration Act for more information. 

Regardless of the business structure, the first step that each business registered in the province must take is to reserve a business name. To do this you need to contact The Registry of Joint Stock Companies request a NUANS Search. This search can be done for either Atlantic Canada or Canada wide. If you wish to use "Canadian" in your business name then a Canada wide search is mandatory.

The fees required for a NUANS search are: $61.05 per name searched for an Atlantic Canada search, or $76.25 per name searched for a Federal name search. 

When submitting your request you will need to provide:

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Mailing Address
  • Proposed business name
  • Type of business
  • Type of search
  • Payment

This is a good resource for how to Request a Name Reservation

A business name must first be approved, and require the following compnents: (i) a distinctive element, (ii) a descriptive element, and (iii) a corporate designation (for incorporated businesss only)


You can find the required forms here: or file online at: You'll have to create an account to take advantage of the online services

After you have returned the forms you can contact the Registry after two business days to see if your name is available. If it is not you need to go through the process again and pay all of the necessary fees. If you need to do this a third time it is free.

The registration for each business structure can vary, as outlined below.

Sole Proprietorship

Once your name has been reserved you have 90 days to complete the registration process. You cannot operate your business under this name until it is registered. This can be done online ( or by filling out the Application for Registration of a Business Name, Sole Proprietorship or Partnership in Nova Scotia Form and returning it with the $68.55 fee. Following this process you will then receive a Certificate of Registration and Business Number (BN). You must renew your registration on an annual basis paying $68.55 each time.


When you have clearance to use the name that you have requested you then have 90 days to register it. As with a sole proprietorship you cannot begin using this name until you are registered.

You can complete the registration by filling out the Partnership Registration forms and returning them to the Registry. Or you can register online at (

The fee for registering is $68.55, and it is to be renewed annually at the same cost. When the process is complete the Registry will send you a Certificate of Registration and a Business Number (BN), which you use to identify yourself to the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA).

You will have to use a Recognized Agent if one of the partners is located outside of the province, or if there are more than two partners. This agent will represent your company in any dealings with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. They do not have to be a lawyer or an accountant, but they do have to be located in Nova Scotia. If you need to use an agent complete this form: (


Once your name is reserved the Registry advises that you get legal or accounting advice. The lawyer will have the documents you need to register the corporation. Each corporation in Nova Scotia is required to have a Recognized Agent, who acts as the contact for the Registry. When these forms are completed and returned you will receive a Certificate of Incorporation, which shows that the company is a legal entity, and a Certificate of Registration. You will also be assigned a Business Number (BN), which identifies your business to the CCRA.

The registration must be updated annually at a cost of $33.00 (made payable to the Inspector of Co-operatives).


NUANS Atlantic Search $61.05
NUANS Canada Search $76.25
Incorporation Initial Cost (if outside NS) $274.10
Incorporation Registration $133.35
Incorporation Renewal $33.00
Sole Proprietorship & Renewal $68.55
Partnership & Renewal $68.55


Here you can access all forms and information, including all fees for registering a business.


a Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations


Phone: (902) 424-7770 or the Access Nova Scotia toll free number: 1-800-225-8227 (All office locations)
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (except holidays)
This telephone number connects you to an automated answering system, which gives you several options, including speaking to a member of the Registry staff.

Location: Maritime Centre, 9 North
1505 Barrington Street (at Spring Garden Road)
Halifax, N.S. B3J 3K5
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm (except holidays)

Write To: Registry of Joint Stock Companies
Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
P.O. Box 1529
Halifax, NS B3J 2Y4

Fax: (902) 424-4633

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