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How to Incorporate a Business in Canada

Incorporating is fairly simple in Canada. It requires that you fill out a form and pay $200.

If you want a numbered company (a company that doesn’t have a name — they just give you a number) it’s easier.

If you want a corporate name, it’s more difficult because you can’t have the same name as someone else.

If you want a name:

  1. File a NUANS name search (costs $20). NUANS will email you their results for the name you esquire about.
  2. Use your NUANS search email to file a form with Corporations Canada for pre-approval of a corporate name (they’ll say the name is Ok to use before you pay $200 with your application to incorporate.
  3. If they reject your pre-approval, you can do some research by searching the internet for the websites of the similar names that came up on their check and by calling the provincial registrars for these names to ask them what those companies are doing (and if they even exist still). You just submit another application for pre-approval (the same form you just submitted) but with a letter (a regular text file from your computer — or is it a pdf of your text file? I forget) explaining the research you did and why they should let you use the name.
  4. Once Corporations Canada emails you saying your name is pre-approved, you can submit your application to incorporate and they won’t reject your application based on the name.

Now you’re back at the step you would be at if you didn’t want to check your name for pre-approval (and risk them rejecting your $200 application because the name isn’t acceptable) or if you just want a numbered company.

This is the step where you incorporate: Go to the Corporations Canada website (this page – click here) and select “Incorporate a business.” Fill out the fields — they ask for your address and phone number, and (if you have one) the two numbers Corporations Canada emailed you in your name pre-approval email. The final step is to give them the credit card / interact information so they can take payment. Now you wait for them to approve or reject your application.

 

NOTE: Rejection of a name for pre-approval doesn’t mean you can’t get the name. They rejected mine initially because there were three names that were somewhat similar. I searched the companies out online and called the provincial registrars in two provinces where the names were registered (the rejection letter has the information about the provinces) and just asked them what sort of business the companies were doing. The three companies were distinct in how people would understand their names and they did different business, I thought. One was no longer active, it seemed, according to the registrar. One wasn’t doing any public business (just a general holding company), it seemed. I reapplied with a short letter explaining my research and Corporations Canada approved the new application.

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