When it comes to registering your business in Canada (I’m in Ontario myself), there are two main steps. You may need one, or both, depending on your situation.
Registering Your Business Name
If you plan to operate your business under any name other than your legal name, you’ll need to register your business name with your province.
For example, if my business name is Tara Graham, I do not need to register this name. However if my business name is Tara Graham Photography, or Sweet Smiles Photography, then I need to register this name.
Here is a list of provincial websites to assist you:
- Alberta: Register a Business Name
- British Columbia: Name Approval
- Manitoba: Business Name Registration
- New Brunswick Online: Registration of a Business Name
- Northwest Territories: Business name registration
- Nova Scotia: Reserving a business name
- Nunavut: Business registration
- Ontario: Business Name Registration
- Prince Edward Island: Business Name Registration
- Quebec: Register an enterprise
- Saskatchewan: Name Reservation
- Yukon: Business Names
- Newfoundland and Labrador there is no registration of trade names. Registration only required for corporations and cooperatives.
Registering for a GST/HST Account
If your business makes $30,000 or more in any four consecutive calendar quarters (3 months periods beginning January, April, July, October) you’ll need to register for GST/HST. You can also do this sooner if you wish. Some people think it makes their business look more professional. Some just don’t want to worry about watching for the exact moment they will need to register, and prefer to have it done ahead of time. Either way, make sure you don’t miss this one. CRA will want the GST/HST on every dollar you earned over $30k, whether you have collected it from your clients or not. And it is definitely NOT professional to go back and ask your clients to backpay GST/HST. You’ll be footing the bill yourself if you make this mistake.
There may be other program accounts you require as part of your registering your business in Canada. Here are some other accounts you may need to set up with CRA, now or in the future, including but not limited to:
- payroll, if you will have employees
- corporation income tax if you are incorporated
- import/export if your business imports goods or sells goods or services internationally
- registered charity if your business is a charitable organization.
See more on the CRA website here: Registering Your Business
Consulting with a Professional
If you’re uncertain about whether you need to register for one or many of these services, it’s always best to talk to a professional. An accountant can help you determine what is required for your particular situation. Ask for recommendations in your area or check out Google reviews to help you choose an accountant. They’ll also be able to help you get set up with proper bookkeeping and prepare your tax filings (personal and business).
Is it a photography business you are registering? Be sure to check out my freebies for photographers!