How to Choose a Business Name in Canada

Sep 1, 2023

When starting a business in Canada, it is crucial to carefully consider the selection of a business name, as it not only plays a significant role in your marketing endeavors but also needs to adhere to specific legal requirements. In essence, your business name should:

– Attract your target audience
– Align with your specific business and/or industry (avoiding delicate names for meat stores, for instance)
– Complement your chosen marketing strategies (fitting signage, being associated with a logo, and representing your business’s image)
– Differentiate you from competitors (being memorable can aid in this aspect)
– Be suitable for the type of business you have opted for

Moreover, in many cases, your chosen name must be registered appropriately. So, how can you manage to accomplish all of this with just one name? Let’s delve into what you should know to select the most suitable business name when embarking on a small business journey in Canada.


How to Choose a Business Name in Canada

Let’s start by examining the marketing aspects. When selecting a business name, you should aim for something memorable that also effectively represents your business for marketing purposes. (Restaurants and designers often disregard this guideline and opt for single-word names, hoping that they will leave a lasting impression on their customers’ minds. However, the rest of us require names that fulfill both of these criteria.)

In general, it’s preferable to choose a business name that offers convenience in the long run. The name should be suitable for various applications such as signs, business cards, and complementing a logo. Moreover, it should look appealing when painted on the side of a truck, among other things. Therefore, avoid names like “Rumpelstiltskin’s Delicatessen” or any other names that people may find difficult to pronounce.

Discover the 5 Rules for Choosing a Business Name to learn how to create a name that is both memorable for your customers and effective for business promotion.


The Legal Elements of Business Names in Canada

Picking a name for your new business would be a whole lot easier if all you needed to consider was its catchiness. However, business names are subject to legal requirements, and these legal aspects dictate what you can and cannot include in the name of your Canadian business.

The naming options available to you depend on the legal structure you choose for your business. In Canada, the most common forms of business are sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.

Each type of business structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, and when it comes to naming, each structure has specific legal elements that must be followed.

If you decide to establish your new business as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you must refrain from using terms like Limited, Incorporated, or Corporation, as well as their contractions (Ltd., Inc., or Corp.) in your business name. These terms are exclusively reserved for corporations.

Therefore, if your business is incorporated, you can use a name like Legrand Plumbing Inc., but if it is a sole proprietorship or partnership, you cannot.

(Still uncertain about which form of business ownership to choose? Check out Business Registration in Ontario (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation))


Register Your Business Name or No

Businesses in Canada are required to register their names in the respective provinces or territories, similar to the regulation of names in Canada. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Sole proprietorships that use only the owner’s legal name without any additions are not obligated to register their business name. Additionally, in Newfoundland and Labrador, new sole proprietorships or partnerships are not required to register their names at all.

In general, most Canadian businesses need to register their names since it is uncommon for people to have identical names for their businesses, unless they are professionals like writers, financial advisors, or consultants.

To obtain information on registering a business name in specific Canadian provinces and incorporating in those provinces, refer to the following resources:

– Business Registration in British Columbia
– Business Registration in Alberta
– Business Registration in Ontario
– Business Registration in Quebec
– Business Registration in Nova Scotia


Business Names vs Business Numbers

When you decide to establish your company, there is an option to form a numbered corporation instead of assigning it a specific name.

Nevertheless, in Canada, the term “business number” refers to the unique identifier given to your business by the Canada Revenue Agency for tax purposes.

Hence, even if you are not required to register your business name due to its operations, you might still require a business number.

Having employees is an example that necessitates obtaining a Business Number. For further information on the distinction between a Business Name and a Business Number, refer to “What’s the Difference Between a Business Name and a Business Number?”

If your business requires a business number, the following outlines the process for applying.






Need more information? CBES is here to assist you; feel free to contact us for expert guidance.




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