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What’s In A (Corporate) Name?

You may have already figured out an idea for a business. You may have already figured out how you will operate your business, secure financing and how it will grow. But what can be difficult for many is picking the name of your business when you incorporate.

There are certain requirements and restrictions that go into naming a corporation. It’s important to make sure that when you do settle on a name, it suits your business and is legally acceptable.

As outlined on the Government of Alberta website, corporations can choose to have a numbered name, or a name of your choosing. If you decide to go with a numbered corporation, you are allowed to register a business name for which you can also use as well. Numbered names usually have the name of the province, or “Canada” if it’s a federal company, as part of the name as well.

Corporate names of your choosing need to have three requirements met: a distinctive element, a descriptive element and a legal ending. This is to make sure:

  • You have a name that no one else is using
  • People know what type of business you offer
  • People know the company is an incorporated business

Legal endings are the words you see following the name of a company, such as “Corp” or “Inc”. Certain companies, such as law firms, dentists or chartered accountants, are allowed to use the term “Professional Corporation” as their legal ending.

Once you’ve picked the name you wish to use, you will need to submit your incorporation documents with a NUANS report. This report checks your name against other similar names to make sure there are no identical matches, or similar names that may cause confusion amongst customers or clients.

If you have questions about registering a corporate name, or adding a business or trade name to your company, it’s best to consult with a corporate lawyer. He or she can assist you with all of your incorporation documents, including the NUANS report, and help you resolve any conflicts that may arise during the incorporation process.

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