How to register a business name


     A business name must be registered with the BC Registrar of Companies if the plan is to operate under a business name as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a limited company (corporation).  If the plan is to operate ONLY under a first and last name (e.g. Bob Smith rather than Bob’s Candles), then there is no need to register the business. It must be stressed though, that although this may seem like an easy route, and therefore the best to take, with only a first and last name it will be more challenging to market the business. For example, Bob Smith and not Bob’s Candles would appear on business cards, marketing materials, etc. In addition, Bob would not be able to open a business bank account. So, for the added steps and minimal cost involved (between $30 and $45 to request the business name, and an additional $40 to register the business if it’s a sole proprietorship or partnership), going the ‘official’ route should be seriously considered.  

     Before registering, the business name must be approved by the provincial government. So, these are the two steps:a)  Obtain approval to use business name. b)  Register business.  

a) Business name approval request

Within the Fraser Valley, Community Futures South Fraser acts as a hub for enabling name approval requests and registrations. See for the location. Outside of the Fraser Valley area, a Name Approval Request Form can be downloaded, then mailed in to the Ministry of Finance in Victoria. At this time, the paperwork must be mailed in (or filed through a Community Futures office, a Government Agent, or a One-Stop Kiosk) as there is no email capability.

Note that the Name Approval Request is only the first step of two.  

     On the Name Approval Request Form, list three business name choices in order of preference. If the first one is approved, the other two will not be reviewed, so it is important to list the names in order of most preferred to least preferred. The price is the same whether listing one, two, or three choices, so it is best to choose three. If for example, only one choice is listed, and it is not approved, then the submission of a new form with a new fee payment would be required.  It is important to note that if another corporation already holds the name being requested, then it cannot be used. If another sole proprietorship or partnership already holds the name, then it can be used.  A business name must have three parts: a distinctive element (e.g. ‘June’s’); a descriptive element, (e.g. ‘Lawn Cutting’); a corporate designation (only if incorporated, e.g. Ltd., Inc., Limited).  Once the business name has been approved, 56 calendar days are granted to complete the business registration procedure. If the business is not registered within 56 days of name approval, the business name approval process will need to be undertaken all over again (including having to pay again).  

b) Business registration

To register a sole proprietorship or partnership, a Declaration for Proprietorship or Partnership Registration form must be submitted, along with the $40 fee, by mail, or online using the OneStop Business Registration website, at To complete small business registration, these items are needed: name approval request number; approved business name; the start date of the business; and a physical street address in BC .  To register a corporation, many entrepreneurs require the assistance of a lawyer, or notary public, and accountant. That said, some choose to incorporate without assistance. To complete corporate registration alone, these items are needed: name approval request number; approved business name; an Incorporation Agreement; and the company’s Articles of Incorporation.  A BC Incorporation Application can be filed online at a cost of just under $400. Once the Certificate of Incorporation is received, one must: Purchase a corporate minute book;       Purchase a corporate seal; Complete corporate by-laws, organizational minutes and issue shares; and set up a corporate bank account.

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