Starting a Business

There are 3 Steps in Starting a Business
  1. Select your business name and get it approved
  2. Register your business
  3. Get your licence

Selecting a name for your business
Perhaps by this point you have already chosen, or are thinking about, a name for your business. The first step in the registration process is securing approval of your business name.  You must have your name approved if you are:
• Incorporating a company, society or cooperative
• Registering a Partnership or Sole Proprietorship
[Download Name Approval Form]

Filling out the Name Approval Request form
You may put up to three choices of names on a Name Approval Request form. We strongly suggest you use all three choices in order of preference. The Corporate Registry will only examine the request until a name is approved - if your first choice is approved they do not search the remaining two. Your name must have two components. The first part of your name must start with a distinctive non-descriptive word or phrase. e.g.: a geographical location, your name, a made up word or phrase, or initials.
The second part of your name must describe what type of business you are in, e.g.: shoe store, investments, or doggy wash. A name that would meet the criteria would be John's Shoe Store or Vancouver Doggy Wash. Names that would not be approved are The Shoe Store or The Doggy Wash.
If you are incorporating a company you must add a third component called the corporate designation: e.g. Limited, Ltd., Corporation, Corp., Incorporated, Inc.
If you are registering a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership, a corporate designation is not used.

Processing of your Name Approval Request form.
If your request was mailed to the Corporate Registry, it normally takes two weeks to process the request and have your results mailed back to you.  If you are doing your Name Approval at the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the staff will contact you when your results are in – this can take from 48 to 72 hours. If you would like your request to be given priority status there is an extra charge of $100 - results within 24 hours. 

Expiry date
If one of your names is approved, the name will be reserved for 56 calendar days. During this time you must submit your declaration form for a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership. This can be done on-line at  You may mail a registration form to Ministry of Finance, Corporate and Personal Property Registries, PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria, BC  V8W 9V3.  You must register your incorporation on-line at  Paper filings are no longer accepted. If your documentation is not submitted within the 56 days, your name reservation will expire. Another name reservation fee will be required if you wish to continue.

Use of a Name
Until your company is incorporated, or your Sole Proprietorship or Partnership is registered, you should not invest any money on the name, e.g.: signs, printing and advertising. The name is only on reserve and can be cancelled prior to Incorporation or registration. It is important to know that business names registered as proprietorship/general partnership do not have the same protection as corporate names. A corporation may be registered under the same name as a business – but a business name won't be accepted if it can be confused with a corporate name.

It is also important not to confuse a business name/trade name (either a sole proprietorship/general partnership or a corporation) with a trademark. A trademark is a word, symbol, or design, or combination of these, used to distinguish wares or services from others in the marketplace. Only the registration of a trademark gives its owner exclusive rights of use. More information on trademarks may be found at:

Refer to Small Business BC for more information [Click Here]