How to Get an Incorporation in Canada: A Comprehensive Guide for Canadian Residents

Starting a business in Canada can be an exciting venture, but one of the initial steps you need to take is deciding on your business structure. Incorporating your business offers several advantages, including limited liability, tax benefits, and increased credibility. This guide will provide a detailed explanation of how Canadian residents can get their businesses incorporated.

What is Incorporation?
Incorporation is the process of legally declaring a corporate entity as separate from its owners. This separates the corporation’s liabilities and obligations from its shareholders. The corporate structure limits the personal liabilities of the shareholders and may offer tax advantages.

Benefits of Incorporating in Canada

  • Limited Liability: Shareholders of a corporation are not personally responsible for the corporation’s debts or liabilities.
  • Tax Efficiency: Corporations often enjoy lower tax rates and can benefit from various tax planning strategies.
  • Access to Capital: Corporations can issue stocks to raise money.
  • Perpetual Existence: Unlike sole proprietorships or partnerships, corporations continue to exist even if ownership changes.
  • Enhanced Credibility: Incorporation can enhance your business’s credibility with customers, suppliers, and financial institutions.

Steps to Incorporate Your Business in Canada 

Choose a Business Name

Your business name is an essential component of your brand. Ensure that your chosen name is unique and not similar to any existing corporation names or trademarks. You can conduct a name search through the NUANS (Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search) database to check the availability.

Make sure the name adheres to the naming regulations in your province or territory.
Avoid any words that could be misleading about the nature of your business.

Determine the Jurisdiction

Decide whether you want to incorporate at the federal or provincial level. Each has its advantages and eligibility requirements.

Federal Incorporation: Allows you to conduct business across all provinces and territories under the same name.
Provincial Incorporation: Limits your business operations to the province of incorporation but can be simpler and cheaper than federal incorporation.

Prepare the Articles of Incorporation

The Articles of Incorporation are the primary legal document to establish your corporation. This document includes:

  • Corporate name
  • Corporate structure (types of shares and the rights associated with them)
  • The number of directors and their roles
  • Registered office address
  • Restrictions on stock transfers Each province has specific forms and requirements, so ensure you comply with local regulations.

Appoint Directors

You must appoint at least one director (the requirements can vary by province). Directors must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Not have been declared bankrupt
  • Not have been declared “mentally incompetent” by a court in Canada or elsewhere

Create Corporate Bylaws

Corporate bylaws govern the day-to-day operations and outline the responsibilities and governance of directors, officers, and shareholders.

Bylaws generally include guidelines for holding meetings, electing directors, and other crucial operations.

Submit Incorporation Documents

Depending on your jurisdiction, you will submit the Articles of Incorporation to the appropriate corporate registry.

For federal incorporation, submit to Corporations Canada.
For provincial incorporation, submit to the corresponding provincial registry (e.g., the Ontario Business Registry).

Obtain a Business Number and Register for GST/HST

Once incorporated, obtain a Business Number (BN) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This is essential for tax purposes. Also, register for Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) if your business will have taxable sales over $30,000 per year.

Licenses and Permits

Depending on the nature of your business, you might require additional licenses and permits to operate legally. Check with local, provincial, and federal authorities to ensure compliance.

Create a Shareholder Agreement

A shareholder agreement is a legal document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the shareholders. Although not mandatory, it is highly recommended to prevent disputes.

File Annual Returns

After incorporation, you must file annual returns to maintain your corporate status. The requirements and deadlines differ by province.

Tips for a Successful Incorporation

  • Legal and Financial Advice: Seek advice from legal and financial advisors. They can provide tailored advice and help navigate the complex incorporation process.
  • Organized Records: Maintain organized records of all incorporation documents, financial records, and minutes from shareholder and board meetings.
  • Compliance: Stay compliant with the laws of your jurisdiction. Ignorance of the law is not a defense and can result in heavy fines or dissolution of your corporation.
  • Insurance: Protect your business by obtaining appropriate insurance coverage, like liability insurance, to safeguard against unforeseen risks.

Federal vs. Provincial Incorporation

Both federal and provincial incorporation have their pros and cons. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide which is best for your business:

Federal Incorporation


  • Ability to operate under the same name across all of Canada.
  • Potentially more credible on a national scale.
  • Simplified expansion into different provinces.


  • More regulatory requirements.
  • Higher initial costs and more paperwork.
  • Stricter corporate governance rules.

Provincial/Territorial Incorporation


  • Simpler process and generally faster incorporation times.
  • Lower initial fees and potentially lower ongoing maintenance costs.
  • Tailored to specific provincial requirements, making it easier to comply.


  • Restricts business name exclusivity to the incorporating province.
  • May require additional registration if expanding to other provinces.

Incorporating a business in Canada involves meticulous planning and adherence to federal or provincial regulations. From choosing a unique business name to filing the Articles of Incorporation, each step is crucial for legal and operational success. Incorporation offers valuable benefits such as limited liability, potential tax advantages, and enhanced credibility, making it an attractive option for many business owners.

However, the process can be intricate, and it’s essential to seek professional advice to ensure compliance and optimize the benefits. Whether you choose federal or provincial incorporation, understanding the requirements and preparing adequately will set a strong foundation for your business’s future growth and success.

By following this comprehensive guide, Canadian residents can navigate the incorporation process confidently and start their new business venture on the right foot.

Are you ready to take the next step toward your entrepreneurial journey in Canada? If you’re looking for more tailored information or have specific questions about the immigration process, we’re here to help. Complete the form below to request more information and let us assist you in making your Canadian business dreams a reality.

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