Should You Register Your Business Name, And How Do You Do It?

In the province of Alberta, the act of registering one’s business name is required by law unless if it is a sole proprietorship using the owner’s legal name with no additions. Therefore, it is important that prospective business owners understand the process of selecting a form of ownership and company name, as well as how to register it successfully.

Choosing Your Form of Business Ownership

Before even registering, you need to carefully consider how your business will be organized legally. After deciding whether you intend to function as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, corporation, or a cooperative, you are then ready to take the process further. Be sure to recognize your needs as a business owner and the type of ownership best suited for your company before moving further.

Selecting Your Business Name

For sole proprietorships in Alberta using your legal name — known as a trade name — without any additional words, you don’t need to worry about registration at all. However, this can’t apply to every company out there and as a result, any other type of business ownership requires name approval by the provincial Corporate Registry. Try searching online for your intended business name to see if it is already being used, as doing so will better protect you from trademark and other legal issues later on. Also, it is important to note that LLP names must be unique, so a bit of research goes a long way in making the process easier. Aim for a name that is short, uncommon, concise, and to the point to make it easy to search.

The Registration Process

Now that you’ve decided upon the name for your business, it is time to move on to the registration process. Owners first need to submit their name through Alberta’s Corporate Registry. Their computer system (CORES) enables for business information to be keyed digitally, which in layman’s terms means that you don’t need to worry about filling out forms. Next, you’ll need to present your information to an authorized service provider or Registry Agent. As the government doesn’t regulate registration fees, prices can vary from place to place. Try downloading the Registry Agent Product Catalogue to get a clearer picture of where you can find the best rates. For trade name declarations, the Alberta Business Service Centre lists sample applicable registration fees at $40 to $50.

Corporations require extra work and a larger investment for successful registration. You’ll need to provide the corporate name and address, describe your corporate structure, identify what type of corporation you intend to establish, and also provide detailed information about the directors, complete with their names, addresses, and Canadian residency status. Corporations require a NUANS search performed in your chosen name, and the report from the search needs to be brought to an accredited service provider. Also, you’ll need to prepare Articles of Incorporation, a cover letter, and an incorporation application that accompanies your fee. Be sure to consult the Alberta Corporate Registry site to learn what other information or procedures are required, and to get an idea of what the extra fees are. Note that as with partnerships, cooperatives or sole proprietorships, rates aren’t regulated.

In conclusion, you are required to register your business name in Alberta unless it is a sole proprietorship only using your legal name. Therefore, understanding the mechanics and intricacies of the appropriate process for your type of ownership is key in order to avoid extra fees or legal hurdles. If you require assistance with name registration or financial planning for business owners, consult your financial advisor at The Beacon Group of Assante Financial Management Ltd. to learn your best course of action.