If you want to change your business name, there are two different business types. One is a registered business and the other is an incorporated business. The abilities to change your business name vary based on how your business is currently established. If you already have registered or incorporated business and now wish to change the legal name of your business, you are able to do this no matter what type of business you operate.
This business category falls under a number of different names including Master Business Licence, registered business, Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Trade name, Partnership, Limited Partnership or Limited Liability Partnership.
If you have completed a Master Business Licence/License or registered business as a Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Trade Name or Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) and wish to change to a new business name, you will need to register a new business. The group of available registered businesses under any of the business acts across all Provinces do not allow the business name to change from a current registration. This may seem frustrating, but this is where the limitations of your current registration type come into play. It does not mean that you can’t start a new registration under the new business name, you will just not have the history of the business name as it currently stands.
What are my options when I have a registered business but want to change the name?
Option 1 – You can register a new business name and keep the current registration and operate both business names at the same time.
Option 2 – You can register the new business name and cancel the current registration to avoid any confusion or tax implications moving forward on an old registration you are no longer using.
Option 3 – You can incorporate the new business name and gain not only the name protection but the ability to change your business name in the future without needing to incorporate another business name.
How long does it take to register a new business?
It depends on the jurisdiction you are registered in. For Ontario, the registration of a new business can be completed on a same day basis Monday through Friday, For Alberta, it can take a few days and there are tiers of payments, depending on how quickly you wish to have your registration completed.
We can assist you to register the new business name in many jurisdictions in Canada, including Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. You cannot register a business with the Federal government and only have the option to incorporate with this jurisdiction. We simply need the details of your new registration and credit card details to complete the transaction online easily and simply.
Can I continue on with my existing registered business and operate a secondary business?
Yes, you can. You can have as many registered businesses as you wish. The disadvantage to operating with separate businesses is that each has to have its own business account with a financial institution, HST and/or payroll accounts and be organized separately, with regards to expenses. This can become daunting. An alternative is to incorporate one business and operate a secondary business as a trade name under the corporation, so everything is together under one business roof. There are further comments regarding incorporation below for you to continue to understand the advantages of incorporation.
Why should I cancel the current registration even if I am no longer going to use that name?
If you have decided to move on to a different business or focus your business to a new opportunity that is more suitable for the direction of your business, the last thing you want is to continue the liability or tax implications of your current registration. Revenue Canada or CRA predicts your next year’s earnings based on what you have previously submitted, they assume your taxes will remain fairly consistent from the previous year. When they are not aware of the changes you are making to your business, your taxation level will remain consistent. If you simply carry on without canceling the Sole Proprietorship, General Partnership, Trade Name or Limited Liability Partnership, Revenue Canada will assume a regular revenue stream will continue. You could be putting yourself in the position of having to prove after the fact that this business no longer operated instead of simply canceling it and notifying Revenue Canada that the business is no longer active. This provides an end point for taxation from your historic revenues. As for liability, as long as the business continues to operate, the risk remains where if there is pending litigation against the business, it’s difficult to say after the fact that your business hasn’t operated for some time.
We can assist you to cancel your existing registration in Ontario online
If you wish to cancel your business in another jurisdiction, you can reach out to our office for details.
Why look at incorporating?
Since you are in the position of needing to start a new registration because of a business name change, there is the opportunity to again look at the pros and cons of registering again versus incorporation. With incorporating a business, you will have a number of opportunities available to you that you didn’t have as a registered business. They include the following:
- Name protection for the new business name
- Branding protection to protect the name and brand
- Personal Liability protection, as you as an individual are separate from the business risks and liabilities
- Tax advantages where you can save taxable income if you are able to keep money regenerated from business in the business’ pocket instead of your personal pocket
- Available credit, where corporations typically have better opportunities to gain funding
- Ability to operate multiple businesses under one corporate umbrella
If you currently have an incorporated business, whether the business is profit or not for profit/charitable you are able to change the business name without the requirement to incorporate a second time. This provides you with the opportunity to maintain your records, bank account, and tax accounts as you have had them under the current name and the only item changing is the name of the corporation. Many people believe that the original Articles of Incorporation for a profit business or Application For Incorporation of a Corporation Without Share Capital for a Not For Profit or Charitable corporation change to reflect the new corporate name, but this is not true. A subsequent filing called Articles of Amendment for a profit corporation or Supplementary Letters Patent for a Not For Profit or Charitable organization is required to complete a new business name for your corporation and the original Articles of Incorporation or Application For Incorporation of a Corporation Without Share Capital remain the same reflecting the history of your corporation.
You can make the following changes to your corporate name:
Change your current business name to another business name with either the same or different legal ending such as inc. ltd. or corp.
Change from a business name to the corporate number associated with your corporation to have a very general corporation. You can choose any legal ending you wish. An example of this would be if your current corporation name was Lila’s Emporium Inc. Change to convert to your corporate number 1234567 Canada Ltd. In some jurisdictions, the numbered corporate change is only available for a profit corporation.
Change from a numbered corporation as provided above to a named corporation.
What are Articles of Amendment or Supplementary Letters Patent?
The Articles of Amendment are the document form to change your existing for profit business name. A Supplementary Letters Patent is used to change the name of your existing Not For Profit or Charitable Organization, which allows you to make three changes to an existing corporation. The first item is to change your corporate name, the second being changing the structure or objects of the corporation such as the share structure, provisions or restrictions on the corporation and the third which is only available for profit businesses is to increase or decrease the overall parameter of the number of the directors available for the incorporated company. If you are changing the name of the corporation, you might as well ensure you don’t want to change any other applicable item as you pay whether you make one, two or three of the changes allowed within the Articles of Amendment.
What do I need to do once I have changed the corporate name?
When you have received the completed Articles of Amendment or Supplementary Letters Patent, you can attend your financial institution to have them update your corporate bank account, notify Revenue Canada or CRA, notify clients, suppliers, any loan documentation to have it updated, update your advertising, social media and anything else related to your business.
We often have people ask if it’s bad to change your business name? It is never bad to change your business name, especially when you believe a change to that business name would benefit the business overall. To rename your business, you always want to ensure that the new business name is available and the legal documents have been completed before you take any steps to moving the new business name forward into the community.
How do I check to see if my business name is available?
No matter where you are registering the new business name or changing the existing corporate name, you should complete a NUANS preliminary or presearch, which will help you to determine if the business name is available. In some jurisdictions, an internal business name search is completed, such as in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. We ultimately assist you in finding an available new business name for either your incorporated or business licenses.
Why use Ontario Business Central?
Changing your company’s name has never been easier with Ontario Business Central. We have assisted business owners since 1992 where you can complete your online legal filing with us as we take you through the steps to changing your corporate name or register a new Master Business licence. We will assist you to take your existing business to a new name, quickly and easily.
Choosing the right business platform is important. Our staff are always here to assist, and if you aren’t sure what type of business is best for your specific situation, it is always recommended to gain professional advice, such as an accountant for understanding your business finance needs and a lawyer to assist you with legal requirements for your Canadian business.
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Ontario Business Central Inc. is not a law firm and cannot provide a legal opinion or advice. This information is to assist you in understanding the requirements of registration within the chosen jurisdiction. It is always recommended, when you have legal or accounting questions that you speak to a qualified professional.
Laura Harvey is an entrepreneur herself as the owner of Ontario Business Central Inc. Her passion has always been about supporting the entrepreneurial spirit and advancement within Canada.
Laura authors in-depth blogs for Ontario Business Central assisting entrepreneurs and business owners to start, manage and grow their businesses. She has almost 30 years of expertise as a corporate specialist and 25 years of being an entrepreneur. Laura has the unique position of supporting a community that she also belongs to. She walks the walk right along with you.
You can find Laura on Linkedin and Twitter.