The Red Tape
Starting a business in British Columbia begins with deciding on your legal structure and then registering with various levels of government, industry associations and possibly other networks. There are multiple permits and applications to consider as you move forward.
Prior to applying for financing for any business venture the legal and regulatory paperwork must be in place. You must legally be in business, or ready to start your business activities with all required documentation in place.
Steps to Register Your Business:
1. Business Name Application
You must register your business name with the BC Registrar of Companies if you are going to operate under a business name as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a limited company (corporation).
2. Choose Your Business Name
You do not need to register the business if you are “doing business as” your name with no words added (restrictions apply to manufacturing, mining and telecommunications businesses). Be sure to list three choices for your business name on your application. If your first choice is approved, the registry will not search the other two.
A business name must have three parts:
Once your business name has been approved, you’ll have 56 calendar days to complete the business registration procedure. If you don’t, you’ll have to start the business name approval process all over again (and pay again). The Name Approval Request costs $30, and the form must be mailed to the Corporate Registry Office with payment.
3. Register a BC Sole Proprietorship or (General or Limited) Partnership
To register a sole proprietorship or partnership you must fill out a Declaration for Proprietorship or Partnership Registration Form and submit your declaration and fee ($40 for proprietorships and general partnerships) by mail or online by using OneStop Business Registration.
To complete your registration you need:
4. Register a BC Corporation (Limited Company)
Many entrepreneurs require the assistance of a lawyer, or notary public, and accountant to set up a BC Corporation. For a BC Incorporation registration you are required to have:
The filing of the Incorporation Application online costs $388.68. This fee does not include additional costs associated with obtaining an Incorporation Agreement or Articles of Incorporation.
There are things to do once your certificate of incorporation has been received and they are:
5. Municipal Permits and Zoning Requirements
This research would have formed some of your early opinion on whether your business was feasible. Now that you have a registered business name you can apply for a local business license and make the changes necessary to your property so that your business location meets the zoning requirements according to the particular bylaws of the municipality or regional district where you will be operating. For a list of those contacts, refer to the links in the Tools & Resources section of our website.
6. Obtain a Business Number (BN)
Once you have registered your business you must obtain a Business Number (BN) if any of these scenarios apply to you:
Optional registration for some firms and individuals that don’t meet the criteria for mandatory registration includes:
Find out more from the WorkSafeBC website. We strongly advise you to contact the local WorkSafe Employer Advisor at 604-870-5492 if you’re unsure as to whether you should have this coverage. The onus is on the business owner to have proper coverage.
8. Apply for other business related licenses, industry memberships and/or permits
Your business venture may require one or more permits or licenses to operate your business. These may be obtained from federal, provincial or municipal licensing bodies and/or industry associations.
There are some helpful business guides on the Canada Business Network website including:
9. Insurance, risk management and legal contracts
10. Set up your bookkeeping and corporate records system
11. Set up your business communications system
Consider establishing a dedicated business phone line (especially if you have children and are operating a home-based business) and a unique email address that identifies your business. Register your domain name for your new website. You can check to see if the domain name is available by going to Canadian Web Hosting or www.Internic.ca . There is more information on 21st century communications in the next subsection.
12. Open a business bank account (arrange for financing, if required)
Set up a separate business bank account. Use it to deposit your cheques and pay all business related expenses. If you qualify for a line of credit or overdraft, attach it to this account. Apply for a credit card in your own name, and use only it for business transactions. This is an easy way to track and record business expenses.
13. Design your management and human resources management strategy.
These are just some key ways to successfully lead an organization:
14. Finalize your business plan
If you are seeking financing or trying to attract business partners you will need a properly crafted business plan. The process of writing a business plan could take between 3 weeks and a year (or more) depending on the complexity of the research and type of business venture. A business plan outline and templated forms are included in our Writing a Business Plan section.