Nuans Report

Register a Company Name

All businesses in Canada must register their business name within their provinces or territories except for sole proprietorships that use only the owner's legal name without any further additions. Beyond that, all other forms of business ownership, including partnerships, must register their business names as a legal requirement, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador to this general rule; in those provinces, you do not have to register the name of sole proprietorships or partnerships at all.

Form of Ownership Must Register Business Name
Corporation Yes
Partnership Yes, except in Newfoundland and Labrador
Sole proprietorship using Owner’s legal name No
Sole proprietorship using another name Yes, except in Newfoundland and Labrador


Using Your Legal Name as a Business Name

If your small business is a sole proprietorship, and you plan to operate under your own name, (for example, if you are a freelancer) the name must be your exact legal name, you cannot add any kind of suffix to the name, such as "Inc." or "Co." or "& Partners", nor can you add anything that would give potential customers or clients an insight into the nature of your business

For example, if you call your business something like "Bobs Auto Repair Shop", you must register my business name, even if you are running it as a sole proprietorship.

Should You Use Your Name as a Business Name?

Using your name as a business name is not a requirement, however, as a sole proprietorship you may wish to register a business name rather than operate under your legal name, for example:

  • If by yourself you are providing a unique service, as do consultants, authors, musicians, artists, etc. using your own name makes sense. If your business is in another industry such as manufacturing, and you intend to eventually expand the business by incorporating and/or taking on partners and employees then probably not.
  • If you have a common name such as "John Jones" and you are expecting your clients to easily find you online, using your own name is probably not a great idea.
  • If your name has difficult spelling, or is not easy to remember, you may choose to use a different name.

How to Register Your Business Name

Once you've chosen a form of business ownership that suits you best, like as a sole proprietorship, you are then required to register your business with the appropriate provincial authority.

For example, in Ontario, you must register your business with the Companies Branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services.

If you are opening a business in Nova Scotia, you must register your business with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies, and in British Columbia, you are required to register your business with the Corporate Registry.

In all cases, the first step is to choose and register a business name, a process that often requires a name search.

Regardless of where you incorporate your business in Canada, you are required to have a name search done and determine the suitability of the corporate name. If you are incorporating federally, or in provinces such as Ontario, you will need to have a NUANS search done, which you must then submit the results with your Article of Incorporation.

In provinces, like British Columbia and Nova Scotia, you must have a name search done once you have submitted a name approval request or name reservation request form. Once those results of the search are deemed acceptable, and your name is accepted, it is then reserved for a set number of days, during which you must complete the incorporation process for your business or restart the procedure all over again.

The NUANS database provides name reports within the following categories: Nova Scotia; Alberta; New Brunswick; Prince Edward Island; and Canada (Federal). For Quebec, Saskatchewan, B.C., Manitoba and Newfoundland & Labrador a name search report a name search report must be pulled from their own provincial databases.

Jurisdiction Type of Report Cost Delivery
Federal NUANS $35 2 hours
Federal Name Decision* Federal $55 2 days
Alberta NUANS $35 2 hours
British Columbia Provincial $70 2 days
Manitoba Provincial $70 2 days
Newfoundland Provincial $90 5 days
New Brunswick NUANS $35 2 hours
Nova Scotia Provincial $80 5 days
Ontario NUANS $35 2 hours
P.E.I. NUANS $35 2 hours
Quebec Provincial $80 5 days
Saskatchewan Provincial $90 5 days 
Northwest Territories Territory $52.50 9 days 
Yukon Territory $67.50 9 days 
Nunavut Territory $52.50 9 days 


* NUANS Reports are sent for review and a decision by Industry Canada before incorporations are completed. Name decisions are typically rendered within 2 days and an emailed copy is sent to the applicant. Positive decisions will be valid for 90 days during which time incorporation may take place.