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how to start / register a business in bC

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How to Start / Register a business in BC

Serving vancouver & the lower mainland

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business registration BC, register a business in BC, start a business in BC

Looking to start a Business in BC?

Read our guide on how to start and register a BC business

The BC business registry is a comprehensive database that maintains records of all businesses operating within the province. To establish a business in BC, it’s crucial to familiarize oneself with its registry and the associated regulatory requirements. The registry includes information such as business names, types, and the relevant legal obligations. It also outlines the necessary steps for setting up a business, ranging from obtaining a business license, adhering to zoning regulations, to complying with tax obligations. By understanding these requirements, entrepreneurs can navigate the business landscape of British Columbia with confidence and compliance.

In the process of establishing a business in British Columbia, the next vital step after understanding the registry and its associated regulations is to conduct extensive research and choose an appropriate business structure. This is a pivotal decision that influences various aspects ranging from the amount of taxes you pay to the level of risk you can stomach and the way you can raise capital.

The choice of business structure is contingent on the specific needs and circumstances of your venture. Common structures include sole proprietorship, partnership, cooperative, and corporation. A sole proprietorship is the simplest form of business structure, typically owned and operated by one individual. A partnership is an agreement between two or more people to run a business together. A cooperative is run by and benefits a group of members for a common cause. A corporation, on the other hand, is a legal entity separate from its owners, providing the most protection against personal liability.

Each structure has its advantages and drawbacks, and it’s essential to consider factors such as ease of formation, liability, tax implications, and administrative requirements. Thorough research into each option, perhaps in consultation with business advisors or legal professionals, will ensure that you select the most suitable structure for your business venture in British Columbia.

After selecting the appropriate business structure, the next step in setting up your business in British Columbia is to register your business name with the province. This is a crucial task as your business name is a significant aspect of your brand identity.

Here is how you can register your business name in BC:

  1. Choose a Unique Business Name: Begin by brainstorming potential business names. The ideal name should be unique, easy to pronounce, and most importantly, it should not already be in use by another company in the province. Use the BC’s Name Request Online (NRO) service to search and ensure that the business name you’ve chosen is unique.
  2. Submit a Name Request: Once you’ve chosen a unique name, you’ll need to submit a name request to the BC Registry Services. This can be done online through the NRO service or in person at a Service BC location. The name request includes three choices of name, ranked in order of preference.
  3. Wait for Name Approval: After your name request is submitted, it will be examined by the BC Registry Services. This process can take up to a few weeks. If your name request is approved, it will be reserved for 56 days.
  4. Register Your Business: Once your name is approved, you can proceed to register your business with BC Registry Services. Depending on your business structure, this may involve completing a registration form or incorporating your business. Be sure to act within the 56-day reservation period to ensure your chosen name doesn’t expire.

Remember, registering your business name in BC is an important step, but it doesn’t automatically protect your name from being used by others. Consider trademarking your business name for added protection.

After registering your business name, the next step in establishing your business in British Columbia is obtaining a Business Number (BN) from the BC Business Registry.  The BN is a unique 9-digit number that identifies your business to the government and other entities.

To obtain a BN, you need to register your business with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This can be done online, by mail, fax, or telephone. However, online registration through the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) service is the fastest and most convenient method.

Follow these steps to register online:

  1. Visit the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) website.
  2. Click on the “Register” button and follow the prompts to create a new account.
  3. Once your account is created, you will need to provide information about your business such as the business name, structure, address, and the nature of your business.
  4. After submitting the information, you will receive your Business Number immediately.

It’s important to note that you might need to register for program accounts, such as GST/HST, Payroll, Corporation income tax, or Import-Export, depending on the nature of your business. Each of these accounts will have a unique 2-letter identifier that is added to the end of your BN.

Remember, obtaining a BN is an essential step in legitimizing your business and complying with federal and provincial regulations. With this number, you can operate your business with full compliance in British Columbia and other parts of Canada.

Securing financing is a fundamental aspect of starting and growing your business in British Columbia. There are multiple financing options available to business owners, each with its own advantages and considerations.

  1. Traditional Bank Loans: Established financial institutions such as banks offer various loan options for businesses. To secure a bank loan, you may need a solid business plan, financial projections, and personal financial statements.
  2. Government Grants and Loans: The government of British Columbia, as well as the federal government, provide a variety of funding programs to support businesses. These include grants, loans, and loan guarantees, many of which are industry-specific or designed for certain groups, such as women or indigenous entrepreneurs.
  3. Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors: These are individuals or firms who invest in promising businesses in exchange for equity. They often bring valuable industry experience and networks along with their investment.
  4. Crowdfunding: Online platforms enable businesses to raise small amounts of money from a large number of people. This method can also help validate your business idea and build a customer base.
  5. Bootstrapping: This involves funding your business using personal savings or revenue from the business. It can be a challenging approach, but it allows you to maintain full control over your business.

Before selecting a financing option, consider how much funding you need, what you will use it for, the cost of the funds, and the potential impact on your ownership and control of the business. It’s also advisable to seek advice from financial advisors or business mentors to help navigate your financing journey.

Obtaining the necessary licenses or permits is a crucial step in getting your business up and running in British Columbia. These documents ensure that your company is compliant with local laws and regulations, which differ depending on the nature of your business and its location.

  1. Identify Necessary Licenses or Permits: Start by visiting the BizPal website, an online service provided by the Canadian government. Here, you can find a comprehensive list of the permits and licenses you may need based on your business activities and location.
  2. Application Process: Once you’ve identified the required licenses or permits, visit the respective BC government websites to start the application process. The process usually involves filling out an application form and submitting it with a fee.
  3. Wait for Approval: The time it takes to receive your permit or license can vary depending on the type. Be prepared for this period and plan accordingly.
  4. Regular Renewals: Keep in mind that most licenses or permits need to be renewed regularly. Make a note of expiry dates and begin the renewal process well in advance to avoid any operational disruptions.

Remember, running a business without the necessary permits or licenses can lead to penalties or even closure. Therefore, it’s essential to stay on top of these requirements to ensure the smooth operation of your business.

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Melissa has 8+ years of combined Commercial, Business and Contract Law experience as In-House Counsel in manufacturing, health, real estate development, and broadcast communication industries. She is instrumental in developing strategies to minimize legal risk and ensure regulatory compliance.

She has 6+ years of Human Resources Management experience and a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation. Her practice includes Family Law, Civil Litigation, Wills & Estates and Real Estate & Conveyancing.

For fun, she visits ancient sites and ruins and belts out popular Broadway tunes.

northam law corporation

Northam Law is a boutique law firm offering advisory services in Real Estate Law and Conveyancing, Business Law, and Human Resources. Our practice areas also include Wills & Estates and Family Law. Notarization services are also available.

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