Starting a Business

This page is here to help you learn the basics of what it takes to bring your business idea to fruition. Already know about the legalities? Click below to learn how to get your business started.

Four Basic Steps

Confirm Your Business Structure

Request and Reserve a Name

Apply for Incorporation

Additional Requirements

Business Structures

It is important to determine how you want to structure your business before going forth with anything else.

Ensure you do the research necessary to choose the appropriate structure for your business.  The Government of Canada has also incorporated a Business Structures Wizard (created by BizPal) on their website that can help you make the important decision – find it by clicking here

On the right are brief descriptions of what each structure details:

Sole Proprietorship

For operating on your own, either under a business name or your own name.

To learn more, click here.


For a business with one or more partners.

To learn more, click here.


For operating a business as a separate legal entity.

To learn more, click here.


For not-for-profit organizations (funds and profits used to exclusively benefit society).

To learn more, click here


For operating a business that is owned and democratically controlled by the people who use and benefit from your service.

To learn more, click here

Name Reservation

Choosing your business’s name is super important so make sure you put a lot of thought into it. Ensure that it reflects what your business is, is easy to say and remember, and that it is unique!

Once you pick your name, you must reserve it to ensure that you are the only one with said name, unless you are a sole proprietor. Where you register your name depends on where you want to operate, and whether you are operating federally. Below are some links you can view for name reservation.

Registering your Business

Corporations: Federal vs. Provincial Incorporation

If you decided for your business to be a corporation, you have to undergo legal incorporation to make it official. There are two types: federal and provincial. Each has their own benefits, so it would be helpful to determine what you want for your business before deciding how to incorporate.


Federal Incorporation costs $200 online. With federal incorporation comes many extra benefits that you would not get with provincial incorporation. View a list of extra benefits via this link.

Click the button below to start incorporating federally.


Provincial (BC)

Provincial incorporation costs $350 for limited liability companies (LLC), and $1000 for unlimited liability companies (ULC).

For benefit companies, apply using the online BC Registry here.

For all other companies, click the button below to incorporate provincially.


Sole Proprietor or Partnership

If you decided for your business to be a sole proprietor or a partnership, you can register your business in British Columbia by clicking the button below.

Additional Requirements

After you register your business, there may be additional tasks you have to do before officially starting to operate. Listed on here are common tasks that startups have to do before commencing operations. 

Zoning Bylaws

If you are planning to have a physical mom and pop or retail store, ensure that you that follow your city’s zoning bylaws found here.

Business Licenses

You may need to contact your local City Hall to obtain a business license, which is necessary to operate in the city; this must be done before any business activities commence. Find the applicable additional requirements in the city you’re operating by going to the city’s main website or by calling them with an inquiry. Below are some links to potential applicable areas you may be operating in:

Additional Licenses

Depending on what kind of business you are, you may need additional licensing. For example, if you are planning to sell food you would need to obtain a food license under the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations. Ensure that you have done the appropriate research to see if your business model requires additional licensing.