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Registering your business’s name

It can be fun to think up names for your new business. 

You’ve got plenty of options. Will your new name be serious or fun?  Personal or formal?  Long or short?  The choice of name often depends on what your business will do and who it will serve. Or, you might prefer to choose a name that reflects who you are.

Before you fall in love with a particular name for your new business, you’ll want to make sure no one else owns it by checking the government’s database of registered names.

NUANS® Corporate Name Search

The Government of Canada keeps a database of existing names to prevent any two businesses from using the same name. The system is called NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search). The software and the data are the property of Industry Canada.

This computerized search system compares a proposed corporate name or trademark with databases of existing corporations and trademarks. This comparison will let you know if your desired name or trademark is similar to an existing one in the database by generating a list of comparable names.

For example, if I wanted to search the availability of the business name ‘Best Watch Repair’, my NUANS report would list any companies using those words.

Whether you are planning to incorporate federally or provincially, it’s advisable to get your NUANS report from a NUANS Registered Member (typically a law office, accounting firm, or online registration specialist). A specialist, such as a lawyer, can review your report and provide advice on how to best meet Government policies and requirements regarding business names.

Most jurisdictions in Canada require you to obtain a NUANS report to register or incorporate a business. Depending on the supplier and type of report, expect to pay between $25 and $100.

NUANS® Pre-Search

Here’s a valuable tip: if you’re uncertain a name is available, and don’t want to spend the money on a full report, order a pre-search of the database. The NUANS Pre-Search will eliminate exact name matches before you pay for a full report. Consult your NUANS supplier for more details.

With a name cleared for use, you’re ready to register or incorporate your business. Again, you may elect to complete this work yourself or enlist the services of a lawyer, accountant or business registration specialist.