How to Register Your Business in British Columbia

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Starting a business in British Columbia (BC) is an exciting venture, and registering your business is one of the first legal steps you need to take. This guide will walk you through business registration in BC, ensuring you have all the necessary information to get your business up and running.

Step 1: Choose Your Business Name

Before registering your business, you need to decide on a name. Your business name should be unique and reflect your services or products. Use the BC Name Request Online Service to check the availability of your desired business name and submit a name request. To avoid confusion, your business name should not be too similar to existing businesses in BC.

Step 2: Determine Your Business Structure

Decide on your business’s structure. Common types include sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Each has its own registration process, benefits, and obligations. For instance, corporations offer liability protection but require more paperwork and fees. Consider consulting a legal advisor to choose the best structure for your business needs.

Step 3: Register Your Business

Once your business name is approved, register it with BC Registry Services. You can do this online through the OneStop Business Registry website, a streamlined way to register various aspects of your business, including GST/HST, if applicable. Make sure to have all the required information on hand, including your business name approval and details about your business structure.

Step 4: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

You may need specific permits and licenses to operate legally in BC, depending on your business type and location. Use the BizPal service, an online tool that provides customised lists of the permits and licenses you may need from all levels of government.

Step 5: Understand Your Tax Obligations

Register for a BC PST account if you sell goods or provide services subject to the Provincial Sales Tax. Additionally, consider your responsibilities for GST/HST, corporate income tax, and payroll taxes if you will have employees. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website is a valuable resource for federal tax information.

What Are the Fees Associated With Registering A Business In BC?

The fees you’ll encounter while registering your business in BC can vary depending on the type of business structure you choose and the specific registrations or licenses you may need.

Here’s an overview to give you a clearer picture.

Business Name Registration Fee

As noted earlier, before registering your business in BC, you’ll need to submit a name request to the BC Registry Services. This comes with a fee. The fee covers the cost of reviewing your proposed business name to ensure it’s unique and meets all regulatory requirements.

Common business registration types include the following.

  • Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships: You must pay a registration fee to register your business as a sole proprietorship or partnership in BC. This fee is required to officially record your business with the BC Registry Services.
  • Incorporation: If you decide to incorporate your business, the incorporation fee is generally higher than the fee for registering sole proprietorships or partnerships. This fee includes filing your incorporation application and obtaining your corporate certificate and number.

Annual Reporting Fees

Corporations are required to file an annual report each year, which comes with a yearly fee. This report keeps your business’s information updated with the BC Registry.

Permits and Licenses Fees

You may need various permits and licenses to operate legally, depending on your business type and location. Each permit or license can have its own associated fee, which varies by municipality and business activity.

GST/HST Registration

Registering for GST/HST with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is free, but it’s a crucial step if your business exceeds a certain revenue threshold or you wish to claim input tax credits.

Budget for these fees as part of your initial business setup costs. Since fees can change, verify the current rates directly on the official websites of BC Registry Services, the CRA, and any other relevant municipal or provincial authority.

Registering your business in BC is a critical step

Every business needs to establish presence and legitimacy as an entity. Following these steps and utilising the resources provided will set you on your way to successfully launching your business in British Columbia. Remember, taking the time to register your business in BC properly will save you from potential legal and financial issues in the future. Good luck on your business journey in BC!

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