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How to Register a Business in BC: Sole Proprietorship & Corporation

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If you’re considering starting a business in British Columbia, you’ll need to choose the type of business structure you want and register it.

You have several options, including sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. But if you’re new to the process, it can be confusing, and you may not know where to start.

Here we look at registering a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation in British Columbia, the costs involved, and how you can complete the process quickly and easily using Ownr.

How to Register a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership in British Columbia (BC)

A sole proprietorship is a business with just one owner, called the sole proprietor. If you choose this business structure, you will be self-employed and will carry out all the tasks involved in running the business.

You will have complete control over everything and receive all the profits, but you are also responsible for the liabilities.

A partnership is an association between at least two individuals who want to do business together. There are different types of partnerships, including limited and limited liability partnerships.

When it comes to how to start a business in BC, here are the steps to follow to register a sole proprietorship or partnership.

Step 1: Choose and Reserve a Business Name

It starts with choosing a business name for your sole proprietorship or partnership. First, think about what name you want to call your business. Once you have decided, you need to then reserve the name.

However, if you just want to run a sole proprietorship under your name, you don’t have to request a business name or register the business.

You have to request your business name in BC and reserve it here for a fee of $30.

This is so you can approve your name and ensure it doesn’t conflict with existing names.

Alternatively, you can fill in the name request form and mail it along with the payment.

You will receive a name request number when the check and reservation are complete. You can use this to register your business, and you will have 56 days until it expires.

If you fail to register the business within this period, you will have to go through the process again.

Step 2: Register Your Business Name Online with the BC Business Registry

Once you have your name, you’re ready to register your business. You can do this using the BC registry services.

image showing requesting for a business name in british columbia

To do this, you will need to set up an account. Alternatively, you can go to a Service BC Location to register.

Registering a partnership is only available as a paper filing. Choose from registering a limited partnership or registering a limited liability partnership.

The cost is:

  • $40 to register a sole proprietorship.
  • $165 to register a limited partnership.
  • $275 to register a limited liability partnership

Once you have completed the registration, you will receive a business number and a copy of the Statement of Registration.

Step 3: Register with Government Partners

Finally, you will need to register with government partners. You can find information about how to register with local, provincial, and federal partners using the Small Business Resource Handout.

How to Register a Sole Proprietorship in BC Using Ownr

Ownr is a service that makes it easy to register a business in British Columbia and several other Canadian provinces.

It makes the whole process simple, quick, and convenient, and it’s cheaper than hiring a lawyer.

How it Works

Registering your sole proprietorship with Ownr is straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Visit the website, choose whether you are registering a new or existing business, then select where it is based.

image showing confirmation of business location in british columbia

2. Select ‘Sole Proprietorship’ from the options and choose your company name.

image showing company name registration in british columbia

3. Add your name, email, and password to create your account.

image showing setting up account of the business in british columbia

4. If you want to search for available business names, Ownr lets you search up to 30.

5. Make the payment and submit your registration.

6. Within one business day, Ownr will deliver your sole proprietorship registration documents.

How Much does it Cost?

The fee for registering a sole proprietorship in British Columbia using Ownr is $49 plus tax.

When you sign up using our exclusive link, you get a 15% discount. You could also get up to a $100 cash back if you open an RBC business bank account.

Related: Find out how you can easily file taxes online.

How to Incorporate a Business in British Columbia

A corporation is a legal entity separate from the business’s owner. This makes it different from a sole proprietorship because a corporation has the same rights as a person and the same legal responsibilities under Canadian law.

There are several advantages to incorporating a business. For example, you may want to incorporate a business in British Columbia to limit your liability or reduce your tax burden.

Step 1: Choose Your Business Structure

First, you have to choose your business structure. You can compare different structures here and decide whether incorporation is the right choice for you.

Incorporation has certain advantages. The company is a legal entity independent of members, making it easier to get funding and enter into contracts, for example. However, it depends on your specific goals.

You will also need to consider setting up a records book, establishing a transparency register, and issuing share certificates. You may want to get advice from an accountant at this stage.

Step 2: Request and Reserve a Business Name

Next, you will need to choose a name. There are legal requirements to keep in mind, and you will need to include a brand name, a descriptive element (what you do), and a legal ending like Inc. or Ltd. at the end.

Some companies don’t include a descriptive element. If you don’t want to include one, you can list up to three options in BC in order of preference.

You need to request the name and reserve it, and you can do this online here for a fee of $30.

It must be approved after it has been confirmed that your chosen name does not conflict with an existing name.

Name requests can take up to 14 days. You’ll be sent a name reservation number when the request has been approved. You can then use this number to incorporate the business.

You have 56 days before the reservation expires. If you don’t register your corporation within this period, you will have to go through the name reservation process again.

Step 3: Establish the Articles of Incorporation

The articles of incorporation are essentially the rules for the company, the directors, officers, and shareholders. They are part of the formal records of the company.

This is a sample set you can use, or you may prefer to get professional assistance.

Keep in mind that there are different requirements for benefit companies, including community contribution companies and unlimited liability companies, with certain statements that must be included.

Step 4: Prepare an Incorporation Agreement

All the incorporators who are forming the company must sign the incorporation agreement. Incorporators usually become directors and shareholders; this agreement becomes part of the company’s records and must contain certain information.

For example, each incorporator must agree to take at least one share and sign and date the agreement.

This does not have to be done online and can be kept in the company’s record books.

Step 5: Apply to Incorporate

The final step is to apply to incorporate your company. This can be done online using Corporate Online, and the fee is $350 or $1,000 for a ULC.

Benefit companies should apply using the BC Registry application online, which also costs $350.

Alternatively, you can complete a paper form that you can find here. You can then hire a lawyer or registry agent to submit the form.

When the application has been processed, you will be sent several documents by mail or email, including the Certificate of Incorporation, certified copies of the Incorporation Application and Notice of Articles, and a cover sheet.

Make sure you keep these as part of the company records.

Related: Check out the best business bank accounts.

How to Incorporate in BC Using Ownr

You can make the process of incorporating much simpler by using Ownr. Here are the steps you need to take:

1. Visit the website and select ‘New’ or ‘Existing’ business, then select where it is based.

2. Select ‘Incorporation’ and choose whether you want a named or numbered company. If you want a named company, write down your company name.

image showing incorporation of the business in british columbia

3. Add your name, email, and password to create your account.

4. If you want to search for available business names, Ownr lets you search up to 30.

5. Pay the fee and apply.

6. You will receive your name search report within one business day. Review it and confirm the name.

7. You will then receive the incorporation documents, including the articles of incorporation, by email, along with directions.

8. Ownr will also prepare the corporation documents, including the First Directors Resolution, First Shareholders Resolution, Subscription for Shares, Director Consent(s), and more.

What does it Cost?

The cost for provincial incorporation in British Columbia using Ownr is $699 plus tax. However, if you sign up here, you get a 15% discount.

Also, if you open an RBC Business Bank Account during the 60-day period after incorporating, you get up to a $300 cash back.

Using Ownr also gives you access to other perks like discounts on phone plans and office supplies.

Related: Ownr coupon codes for discounts.

FAQs

Got questions about registering a business in BC? Read on for the answers:

How much does it cost to register a business in BC?

The cost of registering a business in BC depends on the type of business you are registering. For example, if you want to register a sole proprietorship, the fee is $40. A limited partnership costs $165, and a limited liability partnership costs $275. The fee for incorporation is $350 or $1,000 for a ULC. But remember that name searches will cost extra.

Ownr simplifies the process and charges $49 for registering a sole proprietorship and $699 for incorporation.

What counts as a small business in BC?

A small business in British Columbia is defined as a business with fewer than 50 employees.

Do I need to register my business before I start?

Yes, you will have to register your business in BC if it is a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. The exception is if you are running a sole proprietorship under your name, in which case you don’t need to register a business name.

Do I need a business license in BC?

You will probably need a business license because most municipalities in BC require you to get one. The relevant license will permit you to operate your business in the municipality. The best place to start is by contacting your city hall to find out which permits you will need in your area.

Conclusion

Whether you are registering a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, the steps outlined provide you with what you need to know to get started.

Registering a business in British Columbia is relatively straightforward, but it can be unclear if this is your first time.

You may not want to go through the expense of hiring a lawyer, but you might not feel comfortable going through the registration process alone.

Ownr makes the process quick and easy for anyone, and it can help you to avoid making mistakes that can lead to unnecessary delays. So consider using this service to save time when registering your business in BC.

Related: How to register a business in Alberta

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Author

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.

About Savvy New Canadians

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