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Business Name Guide: How to Choose Your Name in Quebec
Business Name Guide: How to Choose Your Name in Quebec

Business Name Requirements & How to Avoid Having Your Name Rejected

Marwane avatar
Written by Marwane
Updated over a week ago


This naming guide covers six elements:

  1. How to Name Your Sole Proprietorship / Incorporation

  2. Sole Proprietorship

  3. Choosing a Numbered Company

  4. Exact Name Matches on Ownr

  5. "Other Names" used in Québec

  6. Compliance measure

1) Naming

You can choose a name in French that the company will use in Quebec, other than your personal name, and under which it identifies itself to carry out its activities. For incorporations, our system can only support initial names in French at the moment. If you would like to add a version of this name in a language other than French, you can do so directly on the registraire's website, once the name is initially registered in French.

Your company's name must be in French, unique, and contain three components:

[Generic Element] + [Specific Element] + [Legal Ending]

Example: Quincaillerie Saint-Jean Inc.

  • Quincaillerie is a component of the name providing an enterprise's general designation. It MUST be in French.

  • Saint-Jean is a component of the name clearly distinguishing one enterprise from another. You must describe the specific element in case it is not in French or an acronym...

  • Inc. [corporations only] is the legal ending. The particle, often in abbreviated form, specifies the legal form of the enterprise. You can choose any from the offered selection depending on your personal preference.

Here are some linguistic notions to respect when choosing a business name in Quebec IN-531:

• The Generic Element must be in French.

  • Compliant example: ÉPICERIE CHALOUX

  • Non-compliant example: GROCERY CHALOUX

• The placement of the generic within the name

The generic element generally precedes the specific element. However, if the specific element is in a language other than French, and the generic has a meaning both in French and in that other language, the generic must be placed at the beginning of the name.

  • Compliant example: TRANSPORT FASTER

  • Non-compliant example: FASTER TRANSPORT

  • Compliant example: MATTHEW’S AMÉNAGEMENT

  • Non-compliant example: MATTHEW’S

  • Compliant example: RESTAURANT HURLEY’S

  • Non-compliant example: HURLEY’S RESTAURANT

• The accents in the French language

  • Compliant example : RÉNOVATION

  • Non-compliant example: RENOVATION

• Phonetics

  • Compliant example: KLÉ-AN-MIN

    This name is phonetically correct in French since it is pronounced clé-en-main. (key-in-hand)

  • Non-compliant example: 2 DESIGN 4 U

    This name is phonetically incorrect in French since it takes on its full meaning when pronounced in English, i.e. to-design-for-you.

  • Non-compliant example: MECHANIX

    This name is phonetically incorrect in French, since it is pronounced mechanics (without the accent on the "e") and not mécanique.

  • Non-compliant example: SUPER XPERTS

    This name is phonetically incorrect in French since the letter "X" must be pronounced in English for the word to be understandable.

• The syntax

  • Compliant example: RESTAURANT WESTERN STAR

  • Non-compliant example: WESTERN STAR RESTAURANT

2) Sole Proprietorship

You can choose to identify your business by a name other than your personal name, as long as this name is in French. If you would like to add a version of this name in a language other than French, you can do so directly on the registraire's website, once the name is initially registered in French.

Important to note:

  • Registration or reregistration

Natural persons who were previously registered under a name that included their first and last names, or under another name, must re-register. They will be reassigned their previous NEQ. We unfortunately cannot assist with registering a sole proprietorship in Québec if you already have an NEQ.

  • Name of establishment

To make sure that the declaration of registration is not entirely rejected because the name of an establishment was refused by the Registraire des entreprises, you must proceed in two steps:

1/ You must file a declaration of registration without declaring any establishments.

2/ Once the declaration of registration has been published in the enterprise register, you must file a current updating declaration to declare establishments.

3) 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: 1234-5678 Québec inc.

4) Exact Name Matches

If the name you want is taken, you will be immediately notified on Ownr:

In this case, you will need to choose a new name. Keep in mind that the Ownr name search tool may not uncover all registrations in all provinces in Canada, nor will it check international registrations, so it’s important to also do your own due diligence.

5) Other Name(s)

Another name by which an enterprise is identified in Québec (hereinafter, "other name") is commonly called an “assumed name”. It is a name (other than the name in the constituting document) used in Québec to designate an enterprise.

You must declare in the enterprise register any other name that the enterprise uses or plans to use to identify itself when carrying on its activities in Québec. However, such names must be removed from the register once they are no longer used.

To be accepted and deposited in the enterprise register by the Registraire des entreprises, the name and other names of the enterprise must follow certain compliance measures pursuant to the law and certain regulations. The table below indicates the general standards applicable to names.

For more information on creating and using an enterprise's names, see document IN-531, Les noms d'entreprises au Québec (available in French only).

Other information tools are available on the Office québécois de la langue française website to help you learn more about trade marks on public signs and the use of French in Québec.

6) Compliance measure

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