Request Approval for a Business Name
In B.C., businesses and organizations must have their name approved and reserved for their use before they can proceed with incorporation, registration, amalgamation, restoration or a name change.
While BC Registries and Online Services does not provide proprietary right or interest for names, approving and keeping a record (registry) of business and organization names protects the public interest by:
- Ensuring the public is not confused or misled by similar corporate names
- Providing a record that allows the public to find out who is associated with a business or organization
Name requests may be denied for various reasons. Find out how to name your business and make sure no one else is using the same name before you submit your request.
How to Name Your Business or Organization
- Learn what needs to be in a name
- Learn about using "B.C." or "British Columbia" in a name
- Learn the naming rules and why a name might not be accepted
Note: Name approval is not required if you will be using the incorporation number as your business name. The business name will be assigned by BC Registries and Online Services.
Research Name Choices
Save time and money by researching your preferred name choices before you apply. Search for existing business and organization names online or retain the services of a qualified service provider to do this for you.
- Search for registered B.C. companies and organizations through Name Request Online
- Search Corporation Canada's NUANS (Newly Updated Automated Name Search) database to review names used across Canada as well as in B.C.
- Ensure the name you want does not already have a trademark (which means the business is incorporated) by searching trade names and trademarks through the Canadian Trademark Database for free
Submit Your Name Request for Approval
Once you have decided on your name choices, submit your name request online, by mail or in person at a Service BC location.
- Use Name Request Online and pay by credit card
- Download and complete a paper form to mail to us
- Find a Service BC location to drop off your form
Ensure you include payment when submitting your request by mail or in person. Please make your cheque or money order payable to the Minister of Finance.
We will let you know the turn-around time to complete your request when we receive your application and payment.
Approval Process and Results
Your three business name choices, listed in order of preference, will be examined and compared to existing names on the registry. Name choices that can be confused with an existing name, is identical to an existing name, or does not meet the basic criteria will be rejected.
Results are sent immediately to your email address, if one was provided. Otherwise, results are sent by regular mail.
Once your name is approved your business name is reserved for 56 calendar days.
During this time you will need to gather information and complete the forms to register or incorporate your business under your approved name. A fee is charged if you need to extend this reservation period. Once the reservation period expires, anyone may take the name and start their business with that name.
Having a name approved and reserved for a proprietorship or a partnership does not mean it will be approved for an incorporated company should you decide to incorporate at a later date.