British Columbia

Registering a business in British Columbia is mandatory if you operate a partnership, cooperative, society or corporation within the province. If you operate a sole proprietorship under your own name, you don’t have to register, but it may still be a good idea.

What does registering a business in B.C. involve? How long will it take? What will it cost?

Tax accountants at T2inc answer these questions and many more in this comprehensive guide to registering a business in British Columbia!

What is business registration?

There are several reasons that registering your business in B.C. is either preferable or mandatory, depending on the size of your operation. With a registered business, you can:

  • Be eligible to register for provincial (PST) and federal tax (GST)
  • Open a business bank account
  • Establish credibility with consumers by having an official start date for your business
  • Establish your brand identity by obtaining a unique name
  • Hire employees

Remember that registration and incorporation are not the same thing. Incorporating your business is a longer, more complex and expensive procedure with different advantages and responsibilities. Smaller businesses generally find registration sufficient for provincial operations, but if you aren’t sure, be sure to consult with a lawyer or accountant.

Note also that business registration is also not the same as getting a business license. To obtain a business license you will need to check with your local municipal government.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. Business registration involves three steps: choosing a business structure, choosing and reserving a business name, and completing registration procedures with the appropriate governmental departments.

1. Choose a business structure

There are three common types of business structures to choose from when starting a business in BC: sole proprietorship, partnership and corporation. It is also possible to start a cooperative or society within the province, though these are less common. To learn more about business structures, check out our guide to How to Start a Business in BC in 7 Steps.

Before you register your B.C. business, it's essential to know the benefits and limitations of your chosen business structure. Take the time to learn about any legal and fiscal ramifications of your choice, and if you aren’t sure which structure will suit your business best, consult a lawyer or chartered professional accountant. Choosing the right structure for your business can save you a lot of hassle down the road.

2. Reserve a name

Choosing a name for your business is a big step. Your name must be unique, so research it carefully. You may think checking online business listings is enough, but a business name can be reserved and not yet in use.

To make sure your business name is available and will not infringe any copyright laws, submit a name request with BC Registries and Online Services. To do this you will need to submit up to three names, pay a $30 fee and wait for approval. The processing time varies depending on the volume of applications BC Registry receives daily, but you can speed up the review of your file by paying an additional $100.

Once your business name has been approved, you will receive a Name Request Number. You will have 56 days to register your business using this number before the approval expires. You can pay another $30 to renew your name request for an additional 56 days, as needed.

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

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

Register a trademark

In addition to registering your business name, you may also want to register a trademark. A trademark is a combination of words, symbols, sounds, or designs that helps distinguish the products or services of one business from those of others in the marketplace.

A trademark is unique and holds special importance for a company. It goes beyond representing just the actual items or services being sold; it also becomes a symbol of the company's reputation and identity.

When you officially register your trademark, you legally protect it from being used by any other business in Canada without permission for a period of 10 years, which can be extended upon renewal. To find out if your trademark is free to use or is already used by another business, visit the Government of Canada Trademarks Database. Trademarks can only be registered at the federal level.

3. Register your business in B.C.

With an established business structure and valid name, you are now ready to register your business. Depending on the type of business you are running, you will need to register with BC Registry Services, WorkSafeBC, the Ministry of Finance, and the Canada Revenue Agency.

BC Registry Services

To register your business in B.C., begin by creating an account with BC Registries and Online Services. As the business owner, you will need to provide the following basic information:

  • Surname
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Name of business
  • Business type (e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.)
  • Business description
  • Names and SINs of all business owners

You can find further information about registering from the BC Government, including tips for registering using your BC Services Card (digital ID) and other forms and fees.

Processing a business registration can take up to 2 days for sole proprietorships and partnerships, and up to several weeks for corporations. Remember that you have 56 days from the date of your name registration to apply for your business registration using your Name Request Number (NR Number). You can also register a business from outside the province using B.C. corporate online services.

If your business registration is approved, you will receive an acknowledgment of your registration, which will never have to be renewed if you pay your annual taxes. This communication will include your Business Number (BN) and the date of registration. Your BN is essential for paying taxes and Canada Pension and EI premiums, as well as other business transactions.

If you intend to be active in more than one province, you will need to register federally as well, using the Government of Canada’s BRO (Business Registration Online).


You are required by law to register with WorkSafeBC if you hire full-time, part-time, casual or contract workers in BC.

Ministry of Finance

Most businesses in BC will have to pay Provincial Sales Tax (PST). To do so, you will need to register your business with the Ministry of Finance. Businesses must register to collect PST if they are located in B.C. and they sell or lease taxable goods, or provide software or taxable services such as legal services in BC.

Some small sellers, or sellers dealing in non-taxable goods like children’s clothing, may be exempt. For detailed information about registering to collect PST please refer to the PST Bulletin.

Businesses with annual world-wide taxable sales of $30,000 or more may also have to register to pay the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Canada Revenue Agency

By creating a business account with the Canada Revenue Agency, you can access a variety of services, including GST and corporate tax tools. Employees and representatives can also access this account on behalf of their employer, facilitating some tasks such as filing annual corporate taxes. Your 9-digit business number (BN) is assigned once you register your business, and it is this number and not your business name that will identify you to the CRA.

Keep your BC business registration valid with the help of T2inc tax accountants!

Registering a business in BC involves choosing a business structure, selecting a legal business name and completing one or more registration procedures with various government bodies.

To keep your BC business registration active, you are legally obliged to file annual tax returns with provincial and federal governments. Many business owners turn to business accountants to make this process easier. Remember, a qualified accounting professional can not only help you file your returns quickly and efficiently, they can also identify current BC tax credits that will help your business save money.

Contact the corporate accountants at T2inc 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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