Choosing a Name for Your Company

On , In Business

Choosing the perfect name for your company can sometimes be one of the most fun yet difficult parts of starting a business. In this article we will discuss some of the things to consider in picking a name for a corporation in British Columbia.

In the words of Shakespeare, “What’s in a name?” Well, when it comes to a corporation in British Columbia there are actually very specific pieces that must be included in a company’s name for the name to be approved by BC Registry Services. Specially, a company’s name must include three parts:

  1. a distinctive element to distinguish one company from another. This is so that the goods or services offered by the company are distinguishable from those offered by another company (Ex. ABC);
  2. a descriptive element to describe the type of goods or services provided by the company (Ex. Contracting); and
  3. a corporate designation to make it clear to the public that the company is an incorporated entity rather than a sole proprietorship, partnership or another business structure. (Ex. Inc., Ltd., Corp., Incorporated, Limited, or Corporation or the French translation). Please note that there is no legal difference between the various corporate designations – it is just a matter of preference.

Please note, if your company will be providing services governed by an administrative body (Ex. lawyer, doctor, accountant, etc.), additional elements or approvals may be required.

BC Registry Services reviews each name request to ensure that the three elements noted above are included. The name will be rejected if the required elements are not included or if the name implies a connection to the government or the royal family or includes a year other than the year of incorporation. In addition, the registry compares the requested name against the names of all existing companies registered in British Columbia including companies extraprovincially registered in British Columbia. The name will be rejected if the name is likely to mislead or confuse the public, as determined in the discretion of BC Registry Services.

Each name request submitted to BC Registry Services may include up to three names. The registry reviews the names in the order that they are listed on the name request. Accordingly, it is prudent to list your proposed names in order of preference.

The processing time for BC Registry Services to review a name request can range anywhere from 5 – 21 business days depending on how busy they are. You can pay an extra fee for the registry to review your name request on an expedited/rush basis and usually hear back in 1 – 2 business days. 

You can also choose to incorporate your company without a name, in which case it will be given the next available number (EX. 1234567 B.C. Ltd.). You can change the name of your company from a number to a name at any time. 

In addition to considering the formal requirements and restrictions noted above, we recommend considering the following before submitting a name request to BC Registry Services:

  1. Is your name similar to a registered trademark? You or your lawyer can conduct a search in the Canadian Trademarks Database.
  2. Is your name similar to the name of another company? You can do searches on Google etc.
  3. If you intend on creating a website and/or social media accounts, is your preferred URL and/or account name(s) available?

If you have any questions regarding the name request process or the incorporation process in general, please contact one of our lawyers practicing in the area of corporate law. We would be happy to help answer any questions that you may have and guide you through the name reservation and incorporation process. 

Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito

This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (778) 940-3768 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of business law at the following:

Danielle (Dani) Brito: [email protected]

Jennette Vopicka: [email protected]

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