Thinking about Expanding your Business into Canada? Part-One

Posted by Gennine Cooper
November 6, 2019

If you’re thinking about doing business in Canada, you will need to register there just like you would in any state you do business in.  Feeling lost?  Follow these basic steps to get you started and help you decide what type of incorporation you might need to file.  And don’t worry – if this seems overwhelming, you can always contact us – we can help you with every step along the way!

Step 1: Name your Business

The first step is to choose what name you want to use for your business.  Once you have decided on a name, perform a search to see if that name is available.

Step 2:  Get a Business Number (BN) or a NEQ (Quebec only)

A business number (BN) is a 9-digit account number that will forever identify your company to federal and provincial government.  This is similar to the United States’ EIN.  For more information on registering for a BN, visit the Government of Canada’s page on online business registrations.

A Quebec Enterprise Number (NEQ) is required if you’re incorporating in Quebec. Similar, to the BN, it is a 10-digit identifier assigned to a Quebec company.  For more information on NEQ and to register, visit Quebec’s entity registration page.

Step 3:   Decide if you want to incorporate Federally or Provincially.

All businesses in Canada have the option to incorporate federally or provincially. The decision is yours in the end and what works best for your business.

A federal incorporation lets you do business under the same name in all provinces and territories, with an increased business name protection.  The federal level is a little more expensive, more work to setup and must meet the residential Board of Directors requirements. Federal incorporations can be filed online. Learn more about the benefits of federal incorporation.

A provincial incorporation must be filed in a particular province or territory; you are only allowed to operate your business in that jurisdiction, and your business name will not be protected from use in other jurisdictions.  A provincial incorporation is similar to how registering in the United States is – an entity can only do business in the state(s) it is formed or qualified to do business in.  Incorporating provincially has the potential to cause problems for your business looking to expand down the road, but it is not as expensive as a federal incorporation.  Provincial incorporations can be done online as well, but because each province has a different process, you’ll need to use that province’s online portal to file.

Registering to do business in Canada can be confusing – let us help!  If you have any questions or need assistance filing a Canada business, please contact Incserv at or 800.346.4646.  We’ll be happy to help you navigate this process!

Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.

Canada Incserv blog