British Columbia

When you start a business, your business name becomes an integral part of your brand identity. Even more important, it is necessary for filing corporate taxes, applying for small business grants or loans[EK1] , and establishing an online presence.

Choosing a business name is only part of the challenge. Once you have decided on a name that perfectly suits your venture, you need to protect it so that your competitors, and other unrelated businesses, cannot use it as well.

Sole proprietorships in BC do need to register their name in the BC Business Name Registry, but partnerships, societies and corporations are obliged to do so. Even if it is not mandatory, registering your business will allow you to protect your business name and business identity.

Tax accountants at T2inc.ca explain why business name registration is a smart choice for any small business in BC.

Why should I register my business in BC?

Whether you are about to start a business in BC, or you have already begun to offer goods or services as a sole proprietor, there are several reasons you may need to register your business. One important benefit of business registration is that it allows you to solidify your brand identity with a unique name that is protected by law.

Remember, registration and incorporation are not the same thing. Incorporating a business is a longer, more complex and more costly procedure that offers different advantages and responsibilities from registration.

Registration is usually all that is necessary for smaller business to operate smoothly, but if you aren’t sure whether incorporating would be the right choice for you, contact a lawyer or business accountant for advice.

How to reserve a business name in BC

Choosing and protecting a unique business name is a demanding procedure. First you will need to decide on a type of business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, society or corporation.

Next you need to choose a name. The BC government offers a complete list of business name rules that you can use to verify whether your preferred name is going to work. You may think checking online business listings is enough, but a business name can be reserved and not yet in use, so take the time to research your name carefully.

You will need an approved business name before proceeding to complete your business registration in BC .

Choose a legal name

To make sure your business name is available and will not infringe any copyright laws, you will have to submit a name request with BC Registries and Online Services. This involves coming up with three possible names, paying a $30 fee and waiting for approval. The processing time varies depending on the volume of applications the BC Business Name Registry has received, but if you are in a hurry, you can speed things up by paying an additional $100.

Get your Name Request (NR) number

You will receive a Name Request (NR) number as soon as your business name has been approved. You can use this number to register your business within 56 days of its being issued. If you run out of time, you can pay another $30 to renew your request for the same name, and be awarded another 56 days in which to complete the process.

Register your name in multiple locations

If you intend to operate your business in other provinces, you will likely need to confirm whether your business name has been used or registered by anyone else in those jurisdictions. You may also require business name approval from local authorities, such as your town hall or Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.

Important: if you are already federally incorporated, or if you want a numbered company or are using your own name for a sole proprietorship or general partnership, you do not need to file a name request.

Register a trademark

Some business owners choose to go one step further and register a trademark in addition to a name. A trademark is a unique combination of words, symbols, sounds, or designs that distinguish the products or services of one business from all others. It can become a symbol of a company's reputation and identity, and an important part of its brand success story.

Trademarks can only be registered at the federal level. Once your trademark is officially registered, it will be legally protected from being used by any other business in Canada without permission for a period of 10 years. The trademark protection period can also be extended by completing a renewal process. To find out if your trademark is free to use or is already used by another business, visit the Government of Canada Trademarks Database.

Register your business in B.C.

Once you have chosen a business structure and registered your business name, you are ready to register your business. Depending on the type of business you are running, use your name and BN to register with BC Registry Services, the Ministry of Finance, WorkSafeBC, and the Canada Revenue Agency.  

Keep in mind that if you intend to operate in more than one province, you will need to register your business name federally as well.

Keep your business running smoothly in BC with T2inc!

Business name registration in BC can be complicated and time-consuming, but it’s an important part of establishing your business presence, both in the market and within provincial and federal records.

Remember, you do not have to do everything yourself! If your small business needs help with bookkeeping or filing corporate taxes, professional tax accountants can help.

Contact the business tax professionals at T2inc.ca today to learn more!


Frédéric Roy-Gobeil


As President of T2inc.ca and an entrepreneur at heart, I have founded many start-ups such as delve Labs and T2inc.ca. A former tax specialist at Ernst & Young, I am also a member of the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés CPA and have a master's degree in taxation from the Université de Sherbrooke. With a passion for the world of entrepreneurship and the growth mindset, I have authored numerous articles and videos on the industry and the business world, as well as on accounting, taxation, financial statements and financial independence.

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