This naming guide covers six elements:
- How to Name Your Company
- Choosing a Numbered Company
- Exact Name Matches on Ownr
- Prohibited Names
- How to Read your NUANS Report
- Changing your Business Name
1) Named Company
Your company's name must be unique and contain three components:
[Distinctive Element] + [Descriptive Element] + [Legal Ending]
Example: Rhino Sandwiches Inc.
- Rhino is the distinctive element which promotes your corporation's brand.
- Sandwiches is the descriptive element, as it describes the nature of your business.
- Inc. is the legal ending. The ending has no legal consequences.
2) Choosing a Numbered Company
Your other option is to choose a numbered company.
A numbered company is an automatically generated number that will represent your corporation's name. For example: 1234567 Canada Inc. / 1234567 Ontario Inc. / 1234567 Alberta Inc. / 1234567 British Columbia Inc.
A numbered company can choose to operate using a trade name, but that trade name will have to be separately registered with the provincial government (processing fees vary).
3) Exact Name Matches
If the name you want is taken, you will be immediately notified on Ownr:
In this case, there are two options. If you previously registered this name for your business, either as the owner of a Trademark or a Trade Name, or if you have already ordered a NUANS Reservation Report, simply click the purple sentence starting with "Click here" [identified by the second red arrow above]. You will then choose the option that is applicable to your scenario:
Alternatively, if you do not fit within one of the three options above, you will need to choose a new name.
4) Prohibited Words
Businesses cannot have names that:
- Are too general with no distinctive element
- Only describe the type of business
- Are primarily a geographic name or personal name
- Exceed 200 characters
- Cannot contain a year, in parenthesis, unless the corporation is a successor corporation
- Cannot appear to be 'number' names' (if you'd like a numbered company, you must choose 'Numbered Company', you cannot choose numbers.)
- Cannot include government departments (i.e. "Alberta Municipal Affairs", "Canada Customs Agency", "Ontario Social Services")
- Cannot include the words 'University' or 'College' in the name
- Cannot reference a public
5) How to Read Your NUANS Report
Your NUANS report will list the name you reserved as well as all similar names.
Your name will be listed in the top left as well as at number 1 below:
The other names on your search report (found at item 2 above) provide a list of existing corporate names, business names and trademarks that are similar to the one being proposed.
You must review these names and confirm that your proposed business name is not sufficiently similar.
NOTE: Your business name cannot be identical, phonetically identical, or extremely similar to an existing business name.
A different legal ending (Inc. v. Ltd.) does not change the fact that the business name is identical and cannot be used.
6) Changing your Business Name
You can change your name in the future, however, you would need to file documents to amend the Articles of Incorporation. The filing costs between (depending on the jurisdiction, between $250.00-$400.00). You can learn more about how to change your name on Ownr here.