Starting a business in Canada can be complicated and confusing. From the initial stages of developing your idea to the day the doors of your business open, there are many decisions to be made, many forms to complete, and many hours of work to be accomplished. In Canada, you can register your business as a DBA, which stands for "doing business as."

Choose your DBA business name. DBA refers to a business with an operating name other than the legal name of the person that owns the business. In Canada, a DBA name is also described with the words “operating as” (or O/A). Visit Name Requests Online to research name choices and submit your name approval request. The Registrar of Companies has the sole discretion of approving any name. The fee for this request is $31.58 and can be submitted by credit card online or through the mail. When the name is approved, you will receive a name reservation (NR) number. This number will be necessary for the next step.

Choose the type of business entity. In Canada, your business can be classified as sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or cooperative. For more information on the forms of business, read this. Register your company and form of business with your municipal office. This can be accomplished online using OneStop. You have a limited time in which to complete this registration after the name is approved; in British Columbia, you must register the name within 56 days.

Register with the Canada Revenue Agency to receive a Business Number (BN). This will register your business for the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax, payroll deductions, import/export accounts and corporate income tax.

Apply for business licenses. BizPal is available to many Canadian businesspeople and can list the licenses needed. Otherwise, you can visit your municipal office to determine which types of licenses will be necessary for your specific municipality.


If you are a non-Canadian immigrating to Canada for the purposes of starting your business, you must show business experience and have a minimum net worth of C$300,000. For more information on immigration, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

If you a foreign owner of a Canadian business (with no intent to live in Canada), visit Transport Canada to learn restrictions on foreign ownership.