Guide to Choosing a Company Name in Nova Scotia. To register a business in Nova Scotia, you must first choose a name for your business. The Registry of Joint Stock Companies must assess your proposed name and approve it for use before you can register your business.
Your name must be unique and should describe the products and services you provide
Registering your name does not give you exclusive rights to the name—it just gives you permission to carry on business in Nova Scotia using that name. Registering a name protects the public interest by:
- preventing names that are so similar that they would confuse or mislead people
- providing a public record that shows which individuals are associated with a name
These guidelines will help you choose a name for your business.
The components of a Nova Scotia company name
Your name must be unique. Generally, it is made up of:
1. distinctive element (the main identifier of the name)
2. descriptive element (describes the nature of business; optional for corporations)
3. legal element (indicates the legal structure of the business; sole proprietorships, partnerships and business names do not have a legal element)
Examples of a sole-proprietorship or partnership business name:
Joe’s Gas and Convenience Store
Distinctive element: Joe’s
Descriptive element: Gas and Convenience Store
Legal element: N/A
Examples of a corporation names:
Cape Breton Electric Limited
Distinctive element: Cape Breton
Descriptive element: Electric
Legal element: Limited
Your name must be different enough from other names that it doesn’t confuse or mislead people.
Your name can share elements of other names, but in its entirety, your name must be unique.
The distinctive element is the main identifier of the name. It’s what differentiates your name from others in the same or similar line of business.
Not distinctive: Tire Shop Limited
Distinctive: John’s Tire Shop Limited
The distinctive element usually goes at the beginning of the name. It can include descriptive words, made-up words, geographic locations, family names or initials.
Some names are more distinctive than others. The more distinctive the name, the more memorable and commercially useful it is. Names are less distinctive because of the word itself or because a word is used so often. For example, words like Maritime, Atlantic and General are less distinctive, and should used in conjunction with a more distinctive word.
The descriptive element is used to describe the nature of the business.
Not descriptive: Yarmouth Shop
Descriptive: Yarmouth Stationery Shop
The descriptive element usually goes after the distinctive element. If you’re incorporating your business, the descriptive element is not mandatory, but may be helpful.
The legal element shows what kind of legal structure the business has.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships aren’t allowed to use a legal element.
Limited companies must have one of the following legal elements at the end of their name:
Societies can’t use a legal element but must have “society” or “association” or the French equivalent in the name. It may be possible to use another word that denotes membership, but you need to contact the Registry to discuss.
Only societies can use the word ‘Society’ or ‘Association’ in their name.
Co-operatives must have the word ‘Co-operative’, ‘co-opérative’ or ‘Co-op’ (hyphen optional) in their name and must use one of the following legal elements at the end of their name:
Only co-operatives can use the word ‘Co-operative’ (or the variations above) in their name.
Unlimited companies must have one of the following legal elements or the French equivalent in their name:
• Unlimited Liability Company
Limited partnerships must have the following legal element at the end of their name:
• Limited Partnership
Extra-provincial limited partnerships may use ‘LP’.
Limited liability partnerships must have one of the following legal elements at the end of their name:
• Limited Liability Partnership
• société à responsabilité limitée
Community interest companies must have one of the following legal elements at the end of their name:
• Community Interest Company
• societé d’intérêt communautaire
If you have a corporation already incorporated in another jurisdiction, the
Registry of Joint Stock Companies will give the name special consideration as
long as there is no direct conflict with an existing name in Nova Scotia. If there is
a conflict, you may have to use a different name, or an assumed name, to carry
on your business in Nova Scotia.
When you register in Nova Scotia, you must provide proof of incorporation in
your home jurisdiction.