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How To Register a Business in Alberta: Corporation and Sole Proprietorship


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So you have a great business idea – you’ve decided what your company is all about, you’ve thought about your company’s structure, and you have some ideas about its name. It’s time to register your business in Alberta.

Not only will registering your business solidify your brand and help your business get up and running, but it’s also required in Alberta.

We’ll cover how to register your business name, how to register a sole proprietorship, and how to register a corporation in Alberta. We’ll also go through some common questions you might be wondering about as you tackle this new and exciting chapter of starting your business.

Then, we’ll discuss registering your business quickly and easily using Ownr. These important topics will help you build your checklist for starting a business in Alberta.

How to Register a Business Name in Alberta

Naming your business is an essential part of building your brand. We’ll review key factors to consider as you choose and register your business name.

In Alberta, you are required to register your business name to operate a sole proprietorship under any name besides your own or to operate a partnership, limited partnership, or limited liability partnership (LLP). Here are the steps to registering your business name in Alberta:

Step 1: Choose Your Business Name

Interestingly, business names don’t have to be totally unique – identical business names can and do exist. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you do choose a name similar to an existing business name, corporation name, or trademark, you could be challenged in court by its owners. So try to pick a name that will make you stand out.

There are some restrictions on business names, however. For instance, if you are not registering a corporation, your business cannot use the words “limited,” “incorporated,” or “corporation” (or the French or abbreviated forms of these terms) at the end of its name, since that might lead to confusion.

If registering an LLP, you will need to include “limited liability partnership” or the abbreviation “LLP” at the end of the name. The French terms will also work.

Step 2: Get a Business Name Report

Once you’ve chosen a business name, you may want to get a business name report. This step is recommended, but it’s not mandatory for sole proprietorships.

A business name report, which is provided by authorized NUANS members, contains registered business, corporation, and trademark names that are similar to the business name you’ve proposed.

This can give you some insight into whether or not the business name you’ve chosen will make you stand out – and if it runs the risk of leading to a court date.

Step 3: Fill Out the Required Forms

Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’ll have to fill out certain forms to register it. Each type of business requires different forms that you must fax or email to the Alberta Corporate Registry.

If you’re registering a trade name or a sole proprietorship (you’re an individual doing business under a name other than your personal name or a corporation doing business under a name other than its legal name), you’ll fill out the Declaration of Trade Name form.

If you’re registering a partnership (your business involves two or more individuals or corporations doing business together), you’ll want to complete the Declaration of Partnership.

Limited partnerships, which involve one or more general partners and one or more limited partners, will require the Application for Alberta/Extra-Provincial Limited Partnership and the Special Authority to Execute a Registration.

LLPs will require the Application for Alberta/Extra-Provincial Limited Liability Partnership. This type of partnership will also require some other documentation, including permission from the Alberta governing body of the profession related to the LLP (for instance, law or accounting).

Once you’ve filled out the appropriate forms, you can fax or email them to the Alberta Corporate Registry. Its fax number is 780-422-1091. Its email address is [email protected].

Step 4: Take Your Registration Information to a Corporate Registry Service Provider

After submitting the necessary forms, you will also need to visit an authorized Corporate Registry service provider. You’ll need your business name, your business name report, a valid form of identification, and your fee payment of $60.

If your information is accepted and meets the requirements, it’ll get entered into the Corporate Registry, and you’ll receive proof of filing. You’ll also get an email with your federal business number once it gets issued.

How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in Alberta

If you are conducting business under a name that is different from your own and you are not in partnership with anyone else, Alberta’s law requires that you register your business as a sole proprietorship.

This means that you will need to follow the steps above to register your business name. Most importantly, you’ll need to fill out and submit a Declaration of Trade Name form.

Legally, you must file this form within six months of beginning to conduct business under a name besides your own.

Keep in mind that using your own name with the addition of “and company” (or any phrase that indicates the involvement of more than one person) is still considered using a name other than your own and requires you to register your business.

Related: Learn how to register a business in Ontario.

How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in Alberta Using Ownr

Ownr is a company that offers business registration services throughout Canada. It makes registering your business much simpler, easier, and quicker. Plus, it’s significantly cheaper than going through a lawyer to register your business.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Create an Account and Search for Names

When you first go to Ownr’s site, you’ll select that you’re registering a new company and then select which province your company is based in.

Once you do those two things, you’ll be able to search for names for your company.

In Alberta, the name of your company needs to contain a distinctive element (normally the name of your brand) and a descriptive element (this describes what kinds of goods or services the company offers).

After you search for a company name, you’ll be directed to create an account.

Step 2: Provide Your Business Details Online

Once you’ve created an account with Ownr, you’ll be prompted to enter your business details. Ownr makes the process very straightforward and easy.

You’ll need to state what type of company you want to register, confirm the province you’re registering in, and provide the physical address of the business. You’ll also need to share the industry in which your business will operate.

Ownr has a preset list of industries available, so you just need to choose from the options. It takes only a few minutes to enter all of this information.

At this point in the process, you’ll also get a chance to confirm the name that you had previously chosen.

You will also confirm that you need a business number – unless, of course, you already have one. Ownr’s setup helps ensure that you cover all your bases.

Step 3: Pay and Submit Your Registration

After inputting your business information, you’ll need to pay and submit your registration. You’ll likely be surprised by how affordable Ownr makes it to register your business. It costs just $49 to register your sole proprietorship in Alberta through Ownr.

Once you’ve submitted and paid, Ownr will send you all the necessary information via email in just one business day. You’ll get your business registration number and registration documents, plus other perks from Ownr.

When you sign up for Ownr here, you receive a 15% discount. If you open an eligible RBC business bank account, you could qualify for up to $100 cash back.

Learn more about how Ownr works.

How to Register a Corporation in Alberta

Registering a corporation in Alberta is similar to registering a business, but some procedural and legal aspects differ.

A corporation acts as a “person” even though it is an independent legal entity that exists separately from its owners. Since the corporation acts as a person, it can buy and sell assets, make contracts, and sue or be sued.

Registering your business as a corporation gives you some extra legal protection.

Contrary to popular belief, corporations can be large or small. Even a small business with a single owner can register as a corporation. There are a few steps you’ll need to take:

Step 1: Choose Your Corporation Name

Alberta requires corporation names to include three elements: distinctive, descriptive, and legal. For example, let’s use the name Rhinoceros Ski Supplies Inc.

“Rhinoceros” is the distinctive element. It’s the piece of the name that makes it different from others – usually, it’s the branding element of your corporation.

“Ski Supplies” is our descriptive element. This is the piece of the name that describes what the corporation is or does.

“Inc.” is the legal element required at the end of every corporation name in Alberta. There are many acceptable legal elements, including Limited, Corp., or Ltd.

You can also have a numbered corporation, in which case you’ll be assigned a government number when you register the corporation. The name will also include “Alberta” and a legal element at the end.

For example, a numbered corporation name might look like “987654321 Alberta Ltd.” If you’re using a numbered name, you won’t need to complete Step 2.

Step 2: Get a Corporation Name Report

Here’s another part of the process that differs from registering a sole proprietorship. For corporations, identical names are not allowed, so you must get an Alberta NUANS report and ensure that no other corporation has your name or one that is too similar.

When you order this report, your corporation’s name will be reserved for 90 days, so don’t worry about someone grabbing it up while you’re still making your decision. There is a cost: the Alberta NUANS report will set you back $50.

Step 3: Fill Out the Required Forms

You’ll need to fill out various forms to register your corporation, including:

  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Notice of Address
  • Notice of Directors, and
  • Notice of Agent for Service.

Ensure you have all of these filled out before proceeding to Step 4.

Step 4: Take Your Registration Information to a Corporate Registry Service Provider

When you are ready to register your corporation, you’ll need to visit a registry agent or an authorized Alberta service provider. You should bring all of the forms listed above, as well as your NUANS report, a valid ID, and your fee payment.

If the service provider determines that your information meets the requirements, they’ll enter it into the Corporate Registry, and they’ll give you a certificate of incorporation. You’ll also be emailed your federal business number.

Completing this process on your own can be an arduous task and may take significant time and effort. Using a service like Ownr can help simplify and expedite the process.

Related: Find out the best business bank accounts in Canada.

How to Incorporate in Alberta Using Ownr

Step 1: Create an Account and Search for Names

Once you’re on Ownr’s site, you’ll select that you’re registering a new company and then select which province your company is based in.

You’ll also confirm that you want to register a corporation rather than a sole proprietorship.

Once you do those two things, you’ll be able to search for names for your company.

After you’ve searched for a name, you’ll be prompted to create an account.

Step 2: Provide Your Business Details Online

After creating your account, you can fill in your business details online.

Basically, Ownr streamlines all the many forms you’d normally need to fill out and bring to a Corporate Registry service provider in person and allows you to complete them simply and easily online.

First, you’ll fill out your corporate information, including the location of your headquarters, the industry in which your corporation will operate, and the fiscal year-end date for your company.

At this stage, you’ll also get to confirm your corporation’s name and ensure it has all the required elements. Ownr has a helpful dropdown list of legal elements to choose from.

Next, you’ll fill out the information about company ownership. You’ll include whether you’re running the company by yourself or with others, and then you’ll note who the company’s directors are.

Again, a corporation can be run by just one person – so depending on the size of your business, you may be the only director.

You’ll also have the opportunity to input shareholders. If you are the only shareholder, this piece will already be filled in for you.

If you need to add other shareholders, you’ll need their addresses and contact information nearby.

Step 3: Pay and Submit Your Registration

Once you’ve input the above information, all you need to do is pay and submit your corporate registration. Ownr does the rest for you.

It costs $599 plus tax to incorporate in Alberta. You can also get up to $300 back by opening an RBC Business Bank Account within 60 days of incorporating through Ownr, which nearly cuts the price in half.

Once you’ve submitted and paid, Ownr will send you all the information you need via email as soon as it’s ready. You’ll get your incorporation, name registration, and filings, as well as some other perks from Ownr.

Ownr streamlines the complex process of registering a corporation in Alberta and makes it a task you can do easily and quickly online.

Using our exclusive link, you get a 15% discount and an additional $300 cash back if you open an eligible RBC business bank account.

How To Start a Business in Alberta FAQs

How much does it cost to open a business in Alberta?

The cost of opening a business in Alberta depends on the type of business. It costs $60 to register the trade name of a sole proprietorship. For a corporation, you’ll have to pay the government fee of $275 plus the administrative Corporate Registry service provider fee of $225 (varies). There’s also the cost of the NUANS search at $50, bringing the total cost to about $550.

Can I run a business without registering in Alberta?

Unless, you’re running a business fully by yourself and using your own name, yes. For most businesses, you will need to register your company as either a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation.

What happens if I don’t register my business?

The biggest risk to not registering your business is that you are personally liable for everything. That means if you get sued, you’d be personally responsible for the cost of settling that suit. It might sound unlikely, but it’s been reported that 43% of small business owners have been threatened or involved with a civil suit. So it’s more probable than it might seem.

If you don’t register your business properly, there may be other legal consequences as well. You might be forced to close your business. Depending on your individual case, you may be allowed to reopen your business once you get the proper licensing, but you also may be put on probation or never be allowed to reopen it. 

How do I get a GST number in Alberta?

GST stands for Goods and Services Tax. A GST number is assigned by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) and is a nine-digit tax number. If you are not making more than $30,000, your business does not require a GST number – although you can register for one voluntarily. In Alberta, your GST number is the same as your business number, which you will receive once you register your business.

How do I get an Alberta business number?

Your Alberta business number will be emailed to you once you submit the appropriate forms to register your business and then visit an authorized Corporate Registry service provider.


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Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances. You can read his full author bio.

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