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Last Edited
August 16, 2004

NAME APPROVAL |back to business registration|

The first step in the registration of a partnership or sole proprietorship is the approval of a business name. The approval of a name is also the first step in incorporating a company, a society or a cooperative.


Obtain a Name Approval Request form.
You can obtain a Name Approval Request form online. In Vancouver, you can pick up a form at the Canada/British Columbia Business Services Society at 601 West Cordova Street. In Victoria, visit the Corporate Registry. In other areas of BC, visit the nearest Government Agents office or your local Onestop location.

Before filling out the Name Approval Request form, read the instruction sheet attached to the form carefully. A form completed properly will save you both time and money.


What type of business do you want to operate?
Do you want to incorporate a company, register a partnership, or a sole proprietorship? We suggest you contact a lawyer or accountant if you are not sure which type of identity will meet your needs.

Please note sole proprietorship and partnership names have no statutory name protection. If name protection is important to you, you may wish to incorporate your business.


Fill out the Name Approval Request form.
Fill out all requested information on the Name Approval Request form. Make sure you indicate the type of name the request is for: corporation, partnership, proprietorship, society or cooperative.

You may put up to three choices of names on a Name Approval Request form. We strongly suggest you use all three choices. Please note we only examine the request until a name is approved - if your first choice is approved we do not search the remaining two. Therefore, putting your choices in order of preference is very important.

Your name must have two components. The first part of your name must start with a distinctive non-descriptive word or phrase: e.g. a geographical location, your name, a made up word or phrase, or initials. The second part of your name must describe what type of business you are in: e.g. shoe store, investments, doggy wash. A name that would meet our criteria would be John's Shoe Store or Vancouver Doggy Wash. Names that would not be approved are The Shoe Store or The Doggy Wash. If you are incorporating a company you must add a third component called the corporate designation: e.g. Limited, Ltd., Corporation, Corp., Incorporated, Inc. If you are registering a sole proprietorship or partnership, a corporate designation is not used.


Submitting the form .
In Greater Vancouver, you can submit the request by visiting Canada/British Columbia Business Services Society at 601 West Cordova Street. In Victoria, visit the Corporate Registry at 940 Blanshard Street. In other areas of BC, visit your local Government Agents office or your local Onestop office. You can submit your name request by mail to PO Box 9431 Stn Prov Govt, Victoria BC V8W 9V3 Payment of the prescribed fee can be by cash, cheque or money order made out to the Minister of Finance. Please do not send cash in the mail.


Processing of your Name Approval Request form.
Once your request reaches the Corporate Registry, it normally takes two to three working days to process the request. Results will be confirmed in the same manner as the name request was submitted, for example if you go to the government agent they will contact you, if you mail the request, the Corporate Registry we will mail it back to you.


Expiry date.
If one of your names is approved, the name will be reserved for 56 calendar days. During this time you must submit your declaration form for a sole proprietorship or partnership or your incorporation papers. If your documentation is not submitted within the 56 days, your name reservation will expire and another name reservation fee will be required if you wish to continue.


Use of a Name.
Until your company is incorporated, or your sole proprietorship or partnership is registered, you should not invest any money on the name, for example, signs, printing, advertising. The name is only on reserve and can be cancelled prior to incorporation or registration.


Summary of Previous Information.
Obtain a Name Approval Request form and read the instructions very carefully. There is important information on the form that is not mentioned in this message.
Regular name reservation fee can be paid by cash, cheque or money order made payable to the Minister of Finance.
The name must have both a distinctive and descriptive component and a corporate designation is required if the company is incorporating.
Submit three choices of names in order of preference.
Once you have a name approved, make sure your documentation is received by the Corporate Registry prior to the expiry date.
Do not commit yourself to a name until you are incorporated or registered.

Further information can be found at the Corporate Registry Information Centre

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  Canada / British Columbia Business Services Society
601 W Cordova Street Vancouver BC Canada V6B 1G1
BC: 1 800 667-2272 Van: 604 775-5525
www.smallbusinessbc.ca