British Columbia Sole Proprietorships are regulated pursuant to the Partnership Act (British Columbia) . Registering a "doing business as" name in British Columbia allows you to legally operate your business under a new or additional name other than your own personal name.
Requirement for a Name Search
In order to register a sole proprietorship in British Columbia, you will be required to provide a BC Name Search Report. The British Columbia examiners are very careful when granting name approvals. BC has its own name clearance system. You not only have to ensure you are clear through the British Columbia name granting system but you also should ensure you are clear in the NUANS system which records all names registered across Canada.
On the up side, British Columbia allows you to provide three choices of names when ordering a BC name search report. As part of our service we will work with you to ensure that you have three clear choices through the BC name system and as well that the name is available and not being used by another business right across Canada. There is no guarantee that an examiner will accept a proposed name but we do our best to pre-clear those names for you. Since you are provided with three choices if each choice has been thoroughly searched, you have a good chance of having one of those names approved by the BC Corporate Registry.
Choosing a Name
When choosing a name you want to ensure you have two aspects of the name (1) the distinctive element, and (2) the descriptive element. Below is an explanation of those to elements. The longer and more descriptive your name, the more likely you will have your name accepted by the BC government.
Distinctive Element - This element serves to differentiate names having identical or similar descriptive elements, and for that reason, it is the most important element to be examined in the name. Names such as Sewing Shop or Shoe Store lack an appropriate distinctive element and would be rejected for that reason. They would be acceptable, if prefixed with an additional distinctive element (e.g. coined word, geographical location or person's name) that would distinguish them from all the other sewing shops and shoe stores. For instance, Vancouver Sewing Shop or George's Shoe Store would be distinct and different, provided the name did not conflict with any other names registered.
Descriptive Element - This element is useful in describing the nature of the business as well as expanding the options available. It allows for use of identical or similar distinctive elements, which might be desirable in developing a particular presence in your neighbourhood. For example Kamloops Tire Shop or Kamloops Greeting Cards tells your customers what type of business it is.
You need to have BOTH of these elements in a sole proprietorship name in order for the BC government to accept your choice of name. The longer and more descriptive name you choose the better chance you have of having it approved.
Once the name has been cleared by the BC government, it will be given a registration number that will last two months. During that period of time the sole proprietorship registration can be done. The BC government will want to know about your personal address, the address of your business, your full name and the nature of business in order to register your sole proprietorship.
Federal Business Number (GST)
If a sole proprietor makes more than $30,000 (before expenses) it will be required to register and charge GST. This should not be done prior to making at least $29,000 because once you register you will be expected to pay Revenue Canada the GST percentage on a yearly basis and complete returns and you will need to charge your customers this amount when they purchase. For more information about this refer to our section on Federal Business Numbers .
When is it not necessary to Register a Sole Proprietorship
A proprietorship can operate under the proprietor's own personal name without register with the BC Registrar of Companies, however, it may have to be registered with local authorities to obtain a business licence.
If you would like us to assist you with clearing three proposed business names for a sole proprietorship registration in BC and/or register your sole proprietorship in BC, we would be glad to help. We are more than glad to answer any questions that you may have.