ENTREPRENEURSHIP / JUN. 22, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Start a Business in Canada as a Foreigner

Starting a business in Canada is much like starting a business anywhere else in the world. If you are a Canadian citizen, you'll find it's quite simple. If you're a foreigner, however, it becomes a bit more difficult to start your own company!

Starting a Canadian Company as a Foreigner

If you have already established a company in your country and simply wish to expand your business into Canada, the process is fairly simple. You must simply register your new business in the province(s) where you want to open new offices, as well as register for extra-provincial incorporation. Each province has its own website where you can register your business.

If, however, you want to start a brand new business in Canada, the process is a bit more complex.

First, you'll need to get a work permit for Canada. If you plan to live and work in Canada, you can apply for business immigrant status. You can choose either:

  • Start-up visa, which will allow you to move to Canada permanently to start your own business.
  • Self-employed persons, where you basically work freelance in Canada.

Find out more here: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/business/index.asp

If you don't want to move to Canada or obtain resident status, you can partner with a Canadian citizen to form a partnership or corporation. If there are fewer than four directors on the board, at least one will need to be Canadian. If there are four or more, at least 25% of the directors MUST be Canadian.

You will need to register your partnership in the province where you want to operate, so you'll need to log onto that state's website to find out more information on the process. If you are going corporate, you have two choices:

  • Federal Corporation -- You can work in all provinces and territories, and you can use the same name in each province. However, the costs are higher, and there is a lot more paperwork to be filled out.
  • Provincial Corporation -- You can only work in the province or territory where you are registered, but the cost is cheaper.

You'll need to choose a corporate name, following the three requirements for naming a corporation:

  1. A part of the name MUST identify the corporation
  2. A part of the name MUST identify the activities of the corporation
  3. A part of the name MUST identify the company as a corporation using a legal element, such as Co., Ltd., or Inc.

The names can be in English, French, or both, but it will need to be different from all of the other corporate names already registered. You'll also need to have the name searched  in the federal databases to make sure the name is free, and then you can register it when you submit the Articles of Incorporation.

Preparing the documents of incorporation will require:

  • The Articles of Incorporation, which are the rules that will govern the company directors and members.
  • The Memorandum, which sets out the rules for company conduct.
  • The Notice of Offices, which informs the government of the registered office and the record office of your company (both are required by law).
  • Notice of Directors, which is required for federal corporations.
  • NUANS, which ensures the name of your corporation can be used.

Fill out all of the application forms (which you can download from the various province websites), mail in the forms and fees, and you're ready to do business!

For a full guide from the Canadian government website, check out this link…

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