How to Name a Business or Organization: Naming Rules

Single Word Names

Single word names are often not distinct and generally will not be approved.An exception may be allowed if the proposed, single-word name contains a coined word - such as Petrochem which combines petroleum and chemical – however each name request is judged on its own merits.Your best bet is to avoid single word names and stick with the three-step formula using the distinctive element, the descriptive element, and the corporate designation.

Numbered Names

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. The accepted format is

  • 345678 B.C. Ltd.

Extraprovincial Numbered Companies - numbered companies from other jurisdictions, continuing into British Columbia and wishing to retain their numbered names, will be required to conform with the name requirements of this province.

A name reservation or fee is not required for B.C. companies using just their incorporation number. The name will be given according to the next available number at the time of incorporation.

Personal Names

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 normally accepted. For example

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

Personal names cannot be used for a partnership or sole proprietorship. 

Well-known Names

Names, which include well known trade names and trademarks, will not be allowed without the advance written consent of the holder. For example

  • Exxon
  • Xerox
  • Coke

Extraprovincial Names

Special consideration will be given to established extraprovincial companies applying for registration in the province, provided there is not a direct conflict in names. See also, Numbered Names.

Special Characters

The use of special characters such as %, *, or ¢, should be avoided in business names. Some special characters may not be recognized by computer, will not print accurately and may not be allowed.

No Suggestion of Government Connection

The word “government” (in either its English or French form) will not be allowed. Other words which might imply connection with, or endorsement by, any government require written consent of that government. Examples of other words which imply government connection are “ministry”, “bureau”, “secretariat”, “commission” and “certified”.

Using BC in a Name

The use of “British Columbia” or “BC” as the distinctive element in any name is considered to imply connection with the Government of the Province of British Columbia. Use will be accepted only on the written consent of that government, usually obtained from the Office of Protocol, Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat, after the name has been approved by BC Registry Services.

Use of the words “British Columbia” and “BC” will be accepted without consent, if they are placed at the end of a name and before the corporate designation.

  • Pacific Warehouse Storage BC Ltd.

No Connection with Crown or Royal Family

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. The use of the words Crown or Royal in combination with other words that do not imply connection with the Crown or Royal family may be allowed such as -

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

Objectionable Names

Names involving a vulgar expression, obscene words or connotation, racial, physical or sexual slur will be rejected. The use of names of public figures will also not be accepted without the advance written consent of the person named.