What is a Trade Name For a Business?

trade name business registration

One of the benefits of incorporating is having the ability to register Trade Names under your existing corporation. Trade names are also referred to as ‘operating-as names’ or ‘doing business as names’. These business licenses allow your corporation to operate using a name that is different than the full corporate name.

Corporations must operate business under their full legal names as they are registered. This includes the legal ending. If a corporation wishes to do business under a name that is different in any way, trade name registration is needed. You are able to register as many Trade names under your corporation as you like. Each would be valid for 5 years and would need to be renewed in order to remain active.

What is an Example of a Trade Name?

There are a few reasons why you may wish to register a Trade Name and conduct business under a name that is different than your full corporate name. Below are some examples of instances where you may wish to have trade name registrations:

  1. You operate a numbered corporation but want to operate under a business name.
    Ex. 123456 Ontario Limited, doing business as Smith’s Renovations
  2. You want to issue invoices, create signage and other marketing materials without the legal ending.
    Ex. A & M Machinery Inc., doing business as A & M Machinery
  3. You have different business locations, each operating under different names.
    Ex. Ontario Towing Incorporated, operating as Brampton Towing, Mississauga Towing Services, etc.
  4. You offer different products or services and want to operate each business under a different name.
    Ex. Thomas Jones Renovations Inc., operating as Jones Flooring

If you want to operate business under any variation of your corporate name, a Tradename allows you to easily get than name registered.

start a business

What is the Difference Between a Trademark and a Trade Name?

There is sometimes confusion between trade name and trademark registration. Simply put, a trade name registration is the name a corporation is doing business as. This does not include any type of design or distinctive elements. A Trademark registration is completed to provide protection to a logo or other distinctive design. A Trademarking agent can assist with completing this if required.

What is Required to Complete a Trade Name Registration?

In order to complete this business registration, there are a few things that are required. The first thing that is required is an existing business corporation to connect the new name for your business. The business corporation will need to be registered in the Province where the new trade name is being registered. The following information would need to be provided:

  • Name for your business
  • Corporation information, including corporate name, corporate number, jurisdiction and head office address
  • Business location and mailing address for your new trade name
  • Individual to list on file for the trade name

If you have a corporation but you are not registered in the Province you wish to create your trade name in, you will first need to register the corporation as operating in the new Province. This is called an extra provincial registration. This provides you with the Provincial corporate number required for trade name registration.

Searching a Trade Name Before Registering

Prior to registering a new Trade Name, you can select to pre-search the business name. This checks for any businesses, corporations or Trademarks with similar names that may already be existing. Trade names, just like Sole Proprietorships and General Partnerships, do not have name protection. However, you can still pre-search business name registrations and Trademarks for a number of other reasons:

  • Other business licenses may have a bad reputation
  • Advertising for another business with the same or similar name
  • Infringing on a protected name of a corporation or Trademark
  • Customers may be confused by similarly named businesses

If you’re registering a business in Saskatchewan, Manitoba or British Columbia, these jurisdictions require name reservations to be done prior to completing the business registration. This applies for all business licenses including Sole Proprietorships, General Partnerships and Trade names. Name reservations for these jurisdictions are done directly through the Province and are approved by Provincial examiners.

Even in the Provinces that require a name reservation, a NUANS Pre-Search is not a mandatory requirement. However, you may still wish to pre-search your business name in order to avoid delays in name approval and avoid registering a business name that is matching or very similar to another active business. A pre-search may, for instance, reveal any similar existing business registrations that could potentially be flagged by the provincial examiner and cause name rejection or delays in completing the business registration.

By doing a name search first, you will have the opportunity to make changes to the business name before you register your trade name. Once you are happy with the name search results and confirm the name for your business, Ontario Business Central will complete your business registration.

You can choose to include the name search with your business registration if you wish. Or, if you would like to complete this NUANS name search first to see if your chosen business name appears to be available, here is the link to submit.  Please choose the Federal option.


When you are ready to register your Trade name, Ontario Business Central can assist with completing your business registration quickly. Select the Province you are interested in registering for more information and the fees associated:






Should you have any questions about Trade name registration, please feel free to reach out to our staff for additional information and assistance.

Toll-Free: 1-800-280-1913
Local: 1-416-599-9009
Fax: 1-866-294-4363
Office Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Monday – Friday E.S.T.

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.