Business Name Search and Reservation in British Columbia

BC Name Search and Name Reservation BC

The process of Business Registration for a BC small business starts with the approval of the business name. The approval of your selected business name is at the discretion of the Registrar of Companies. The selection of the business name therefore is very important. You must conduct a Business Name Search to verify the availability of your selected names before you submit them for approval.

Name Search and Approval of a Business Name in British Columbia:

  • Business Development Centre recommends that you submit a choice of 3 business names, in order of your preference, for each name approval request. The second and third choices are not examined unless the initial choice of name is not available. The name approval charges cover all three options submitted whether or not all of them are examined. 
  • If available, the name of your choice may be approved by the registrar of companies (BC registrar of companies).
  • Once approved it is held for a period of 56 calendar days.
  • Once approved, you will be assigned a Name Reservation Number to be used in the Business Registration process.

Preliminary Name Search allows you to check if there is already registered business name that would directly conflict with your proposed name. A preliminary search can save you the money for a repeat name reservation request if a direct match is found. 

Important Information:

  • Sole proprietorship and partnership names cannot use any form of corporate designation, for example Limited, Ltd., Inc., Corporation.
  • If you do not register your business within 56 calendar days of receiving the business name approval, you will be required to pay another reservation fee for the renewal of Name Reservation.
  • Business Development Centre recommends that you should not use the name until your company is incorporated or your Sole Proprietorship or Partnership is registered. Do not invest in printing signs, printing stationary or advertising. This is because the approved name is only on reserve and can be cancelled prior to Registration or Incorporation.
  • It is important to note that the business name registered as Sole Proprietorship or Partnership does not have the same protection as a corporate name.
  • It is important to note that a firm name does not provide any protection for that name and does not mean that the name will be available if you decide to incorporate a company using this name.
Business Name Search in BC Rates *
Preliminary Name Search $ 15.00 for 3 names
Name Reservation for BC $ 59.95

* Taxes and disbursements are extra, where applicable.


Questions & Answers

Q. What should you keep in mind while choosing Good Business Names?

A. Choosing distinctive names to stand out from your competitors is the critical first step to your registration process. Make sure the names are not misleading or confusing in its description of the goods or services you will provide. Business names must be registered in the Roman alphabet (English, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, etc.) and may contain numerals.

Q. What elements cannot be used in a business name?

A. When choosing your business name, remember that certain words or expressions cannot be used.
Words or expressions, in any language, that are obscene or objectionable in nature.

Words that imply the business is a different type of organization. For example, you may not imply that a sole proprietorship is a partnership. You may not use numbers or words that imply the business name is a corporate number name.

The words "college", "institute" or "university" cannot be used without the written consent of the Ministry of Education, if using the word implies the business is a post-secondary institution.
You may not use the words "limited", "corporation" or "incorporated" or their respective abbreviations Ltd., Corp., and Inc.

Words with restricted use under federal or Ontario laws.

Words that imply the business is associated with the Crown or the Government of Canada, any province of Canada or any municipal government may not be used without the written consent of the appropriate authority.

Names of individuals may not be used unless they have or had a material interest in the business activity and have given their written permission. If an individual is not living, and the name is used within 30 years of the date of death, the written consent of the estate must be obtained.

It is your responsibility to make sure your business name does not contain any of the above words or expressions unless proper consent has been obtained.
The following marks may not be used as the first character, but may be included in the name: ! " # $ % & ' ( ) * + , - . / : ; > = < ? [ ] \ ^ ` .
Business names composed of characters from other alphabets must be translated and registered in a language using the Roman alphabet.
A business name in a language other than one using the Roman alphabet may be used in advertising and signs, but the business name must also be displayed in a language using the Roman alphabet.
For example, a business that registers its name in English may have letterhead or signs in Chinese characters as long as the English name is also displayed at the place of business.

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