Request approval for a business name

Businesses and organizations must have their name approved and confirm that it's not already being used.

This must be completed before proceeding with incorporation, registration, amalgamation, restoration or a name change. 

Getting a name approved:

  • Ensures it's appropriate and won't confuse or mislead the public
  • Provides a public record of businesses and organizations that can be searched

Only incorporated companies, cooperatives or societies can guarantee exclusive use of their name.

There is no name protection for the name of a sole proprietorship or partnership, as this applies to incorporated companies, cooperatives and societies only.

Having a name approved and reserved for a sole proprietorship or a partnership doesn't guarantee it'll be approved for an incorporated company if you decide to incorporate later.

 

Choose a name

You'll be asked to provide three different name choices, ranked in order of your preference.

If you wish to incorporate using an incorporation number as the company, cooperative or society name, name approval is not required. The number will be assigned automatically.

A distinctive element is what sets it apart from other names.

Examples
Less like... More like...
Tire Shop Ltd. Kitimat Tire Shop Ltd.
Shoe Store Ltd. Linda's Shoe Store Ltd.
Senior Care Society Benevolent Relief Senior Care Society
Outdoor Recreation Club Fireside Outdoor Recreation Club

The descriptive element describes the nature of the business. For example:

  • Fernie Brake Shop Ltd.
  • Kamloops Stationery Ltd.
  • Gentle Rain Fellowship of Faith Society
  • Gentle Teaching International Society 

A descriptive element is not required for names that include a made-up word with a geographical location (e.g. Altrex Canada Ltd.).

Similar descriptive words. Make sure your name's descriptive words are unique. It needs to be different than other names that are already registered. For example, if you request ‘John’s Hotel’ and ‘John’s Inn’ already exists, your name request will be rejected. Here are some similar words to consider:

Aesthetic

Cosmetic, day spa, electrolysis, manicure, makeup, nail, skin

Auto

Auto body, car, collision, fix, garage, mechanic, motor, repair, service, tune, vehicle

Cement

Aggregate, concrete, form, ready-mix, rebar

Charter

Excursion, guide, outfit, sightseeing, sport fishing

Cleaning

Clean, custodian, domestic, handyman, housekeeping, janitor, maid, maintenance

Clothing

Apparel, attire, boutique, casual, clothes, clothier, couture, fashion, garb, garment, wardrobe, wear

Computer

Data, laptop, PC, program, soft, solution, system, software

Construction

Build, contract, develop, home, remodel, reno, restore, structure

Entertainment

Blue-ray, DVD, film, media, motion, movie, picture, production, release, studios, talent, television, theatre, TV, VCR, video

Electrical

Cable, electric, light, wire

Fish farming

Aquaculture, aquafarm, fish, mariculture, oyster, salmon, trout, seafarm, seafood, shellfish

Fitness

Aerobic, circuit, conditioning, fit, gym, Pilates, spa, train, workout, exercise

Flooring

Floor, carpet, ceramic, hardwood, laminate, lino, linoleum, marble, rug, terrazzo, tile
Forest

Forestry, forester, forest management, logging, lumber, paper, pulp, reforest, sawmill, silviculture, timber, timber management, tree planting, wood

Financial

Acceptance, asset, capital, credit, equity, fund, invest, load, mortgage, mutual, securities

Gardening

Garden, gardener, grass, ground, horticulture, landscape, lawn, mow, plant, yard

Hairstyling

Barber, beauty, coiffure, cut, hair, salon, style
Health

Medical, practice, surgery, wellness

Heating

Air conditioning, climate, comfort, furnace, HVAC, mechanical, pipe fit, plumbing

Hotel

Bed and breakfast, inn, lodge, resort, motel

Insurance

Assurance, benefit, life, underwriting

Mining resources

Coal, exploration, explore, drill, energy, fuel, gas, oil, petroleum, propane, resources, mine, mineral, placer, prospect

Real estate

Estate, land, listing, property, realty

Restaurant

Bistro, café, cantina, kitchen, cuisine, deli, dine, diner, dining, eats, eatery, gallery, grill, sandwich, takeout, taverna, tratoria

Security systems

Alarm, guard, investigation, monitor, patrol, protect, surveillance, watch

Storage

Terminal, container, depot, warehouse

Taxi

Airporter, cab, chauffeur, limo, limousine, taxi cab

Transportation

Carrier, cartage, express, freight, haul, hotshot, line, lobed, logistic, moving, shipper, shipping, transfer, transport, truck

Vacation/tour

Adventure, cruise, expedition, holiday, safari, travel, trip

Welding

Fabricating, machining, metal, weld

Incorporated companies, cooperatives and societies must have a corporate designation included in their name.

 
Limited companies

Include one of the following as the last word of the name:

  • Limited, Limitee (fr), Ltd., or Ltee (fr).
  • Incorporated, Incorporee (fr), or Inc.
  • Corporation or Corp.

Unlimited liability companies

Include one of the following as the last word of the name:

  • ULC
  • Unlimited Liability Company
  • SRI
  • S.R.I.
Community contribution companies

Include one of the following as part of the name:

  • Community Contribution Company
  • CCC
Extraprovincial companies that are limited liability companies

May include one of the following at the end of the name:

  • Limited Liability Company
  • LLC
Not-for-profit societies or extraprovincial non-share corporations

Usually have one of the following as part of the name:

  • Association, ASSN. or Assn.
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Church or Eglise
  • Club
  • Christian School
  • Fellowship
  • Foundation or Fondation
  • Guild
  • Parish
  • Society or Societe
  • Watershed
Cooperatives

Should have one of the following in the name:

  • Cooperative
  • Coop, Co-op or another grammatical form of these words
  • Association
  • Exchange
  • Society
  • Union
  • A similar word approved by BC Registries and Online Services

Do not use "not for profit" or "non-profit" unless the co-op is a housing project.

General partnerships and proprietorships (unincorporated)

Do not use words used by limited companies (e.g., Ltd., Inc. or Corp.).

Limited partnerships can use Company or Co.

Limited liability partnerships

Limited liability partnerships must use one of the following at the end of the name:

  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • LLP
  • Societe a responsabilite limitee
  • Societe en nom collectif a responsabilite limitee
  • SRL
  • SENCRL

Limited partnership

Limited partnerships must use the following at the end of the name:

  • Limited Partnership

 

Naming rules

You can increase your chances of getting a single-word name approved by including:

  • A coined or made-up word or phrase for proprietorships or general partnerships (e.g. Mapchem)
  • A geographical reference for incorporated companies (e.g. Mapchem Canada Inc.)

Your best bet is to avoid single word names and following instructions for choosing a name using the distinctive element, the descriptive element, and the corporate designation.

Numerals may be used in company names as the distinctive element. A year may be used in a name provided that it is the year of incorporation, amalgamation, change of name, or registration. For example:

  • Pacific Enterprises (1997) Ltd.

Incorporation numbers may be used as the name of a B.C. company in the following format: 345678 B.C. Ltd. The name will be given according to the next available number at the time of incorporation. A name reservation or fee is not required for B.C. companies using their incorporation number.

Extraprovincial numbered companies (companies from other jurisdictions continuing into B.C.) can use their numbered name. They need to follow the name request process.

For a corporation or a society, a natural person’s full name will be considered to be sufficiently distinctive and therefore acceptable. For example:

  • Bill Brown Ltd.
  • John Smith Society

Two surnames or initials with a surname are also acceptable. For example:

  • Brown, Green Inc.
  • J.R. Black Society

Personal names cannot be used for a partnership or sole proprietorship. Partnerships or sole proprietorships doing business under a personal name do not need to request a business name or register the business with the province.

Well-known names and trademarks will not be allowed without the advance written consent of the holder. For example:

  • Exxon
  • Xerox
  • Coke

Use of names of public figures require written consent of the person named.

Special consideration will be given to established extraprovincial companies applying for registration in the province as long as there is not a direct conflict with another name.

Extraprovincial companies are required to reserve the same name they have reserved in their home jurisdiction, unless it is already taken or is determined to be unacceptable by the registrar.

Avoid using special characters (e.g. %, *, or ¢). Special characters can create confusion, may not be recognized by a computer or may not print accurately.

The word “government” (in English or French) is not allowed. Written consent from a government is required to use words that could imply connection with or endorsement from that government. This would include words like: ministry, bureau, secretariat, commission or certified.

“British Columbia” or “B.C.” implies connection with the Government of British Columbia. Written consent is required from the Office of Protocol, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat, after the name has been approved by BC Registry Services.

Consent is not required if "British Columbia" or "B.C." is placed at the end of a name and before the corporate designation. For example, Pacific Warehouse Storage BC Ltd.

A name which suggests or implies a connection with the Crown, any living member of the royal family, or an endorsement by the Crown or royal family will not be accepted without written consent from the appropriate authority.

This rule does not apply to names with geographical locations such as Prince George, Prince Rupert, or reference to New Westminster as the Royal City. 

Using "crown" or "royal" is allowed when it's clear that there is no connection with the Crown or royal family, for example:

  • Triple Crown Painting Ltd.
  • Royal Star Holdings Ltd.

Names will be rejected if they include:

  • Vulgar expressions
  • Obscene words or connotation
  • Racial, physical or sexual slurs

 

Request a name

Submit your name request online or complete the Name Request form (PDF, 117KB) and mail it or drop it off at a Service BC location ($30 fee). Include payment when submitting your request by mail. Make payment payable to the Minister of Finance. Request priority service ($100 fee) if you need to have a name approved in 1 to 2 business days.

Results are sent immediately to your email address, if you provided one. If not, results will be mailed to you.

Once a name request is approved, it's reserved for 56 days. Be sure to register or incorporate your business before your name reservation expires. If not, you'll need to submit another name request. Anyone can use the name once the reservation expires.

BC OnLine users: Please use the new Business Registry to submit name requests.

Ask for help

Contact the BC Registries helpdesk for help Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The registry does not provide business or legal advice.

Email: BCRegistries@gov.bc.ca
Toll free: 1 877 526-1526
Victoria: 250 387-7848

Support and services

Contact the team at Dye & Durham, our preferred legal service provider, for support filling out forms or filing documents.

Explore business resources and support services from the Small Business Branch or Small Business BC.

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