Incorporate your business in the Canada

Incorporating your company federally is a five-step process.
  • Step 1: Deciding how you want to name your corporation
  • Step 2: Completing articles of incorporation
  • Step 3: Establishing the initial registered office address and first board of directors
  • Step 4: Filing the appropriate forms and paying the fee
  • Step 5: Processing your application
  • Completing provincial and territorial registration and other requirements
  • Note:The information provided is to assist you to complete the incorporation process quickly and accurately. It is not intended to replace legal advice. Consider consulting a lawyer or another professional advisor to ensure that the specific needs of your corporation are met.

    Step 1: Deciding how you want to name your corporation

    Before you begin the process of incorporation, you need to name your corporation. Every corporation must have a name; this is known as a corporate name. The name must be distinctive and it must not be misleading or likely to be confused with names used by other organizations and businesses. In general, a corporate name is distinctive if it does not make those who encounter it think of another organization or business. Corporations Canada applies very rigorous standards when granting names.
  • If you want a numbered name (this is still considered a corporate name) for your company, proceed to step 2. The process for obtaining a numbered name for your company is part of the process of completing the articles of incorporation.
  • If you want to choose a corporate name, you first need to conduct a Nuans name search. Note that a Nuans name search report for the proposed name must not be more than 90 days old.
  • You can obtain pre-approval of your corporate name before you file your articles of incorporation, or request approval at the time of filing.

  • Step 2: Completing articles of incorporation

    This step establishes the structure of your corporation. However, you can apply to change the structure of your corporation once you are operating. Your articles of incorporation will need to be signed by the incorporator(s). If an incorporator is a company or other incorporated body, the articles must be signed by an individual authorized by that body. Note that changes to the approved articles can only be made by amendment. The fee for amending articles is $200.00. You can file your articles of incorporation through the Online Filing Centre or you can complete Form 1 – Articles of Incorporation (see Federal incorporation forms). If you complete Form 1, you need to state:
  • your proposed corporate name (leave a blank space if you want to proceed with a numbered name)
  • your corporation’s province or territory in Canada
  • your share structure and any restrictions on share transfers (see The share structure of your corporation)
  • your corporation’s number of directors
  • any restrictions you might want to set for your business or business activities
  • any other provisions (See Item 7: Other provisions, if any).

  • Step 3: Establishing the initial registered office address and first board of directors

    The registered office address is where you must keep your corporate records and where official documents will be served on the corporation. Choose an address where you will be sure to receive any documents that are sent there since, legally, they will be assumed to have been received by the corporation. Information about the registered office address is corporate information, and as such, is required to be made public. Make sure the directors meet the eligibility requirements (See Director requirements). Information about directors is corporate information, and as such, is required to be made public. If you incorporate online, this step is part of your incorporation process. If you complete Form 2, you need to state:
  • the same corporate name you provided in your articles of incorporation (leave it blank if you want to be assigned a numbered name)
  • the street address of your corporation’s registered office in Canada (include a mailing address if you would like to receive unofficial documents at different address)
  • the first name, last name and address of each director (indicate whether or not each director is a resident Canadian).
  • Adding the director’s information allows Corporations Canada and others to send notices to the directors if required. As with your articles of incorporation, the form will need to be signed by the incorporators.

    Step 4: Filing the appropriate forms and paying the fee

    Corporations Canada offers several methods of filing (see How do I file my application under the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA)?). Your request for a certificate of incorporation, sent to Corporations Canada, must also include the filing fee (see Services, fees and turnaround times – CBCA). Corporations Canada does not acknowledge receipt of applications, except for online applications. Don't forget that you have to fulfill other obligations once you are incorporated (see Completing provincial and territorial registration and other requirements).

    Step 5: Processing your application

    Corporations Canada will make sure your articles of incorporation have been properly completed and that the proposed name is acceptable. An application is complete if:
  • it includes all necessary documents
  • the forms are complete and signed, and
  • the fee is included.


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