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Starting a Business in British Columbia
How to start a business in Vancouver, with information on how to incorporate a company in the area and the business regulatory requirements that are enforced in the province...
When starting a new business in British Columbia there are a number of legal structures to choose from, including Sole Proprietor, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership and Incorporated Company.
Incorporating a Company
Companies operating in British Columbia may be incorporated under either Canadian (federal) or British Columbian (provincial) law, but incorporating provincially is more common unless the company is going to be operating in other provinces too. The regulation under the Business Corporations Act requires that incorporation application documents must be filed online. Go to the website Corporate Online to file documents using a credit card or a BC Online account.
The Business Corporations Act and Business Corporations Regulation are available on the BC Laws website.
Completing the Incorporation Application/Notice of Articles
The company must have both a registered office and a records office. They must be in British Columbia, and it is usually more convenient to have them at one address. The records office is the address where the company keeps all the formal documents required in order to comply with the Business Corporations Act. The registered office is where legal documents can be delivered, either by mail or by formal service, and must be a street address that is open to the public during normal business hours.
Maintaining the company's status
Some common examples of forms that can be downloaded in PDF and printed for use prior to transposing to the online filing forms are:
- Form 2 - Notice of Change of Address (change mailing and/or delivery address of the registered and/or records office)
- Form 6 - Annual Report
- Form 10 - Notice of Change of Directors
In some cases, paper forms may be completed and a law firm or registry agent will submit the forms for a fee. BC Registry Services' preferred service provider is Dye & Durham.
- For further information and additional forms from BC Registry Services: Click here
Business Regulatory Requirements
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on goods and services sold, and remit the taxes to the federal government's Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). In British Columbia this sales tax is referred to as Harmonised Sales Tax (HST), which replaced the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Provincial Sales Tax (PST) in 2011. To collect and remit HST businesses must set up an account with the CRA.
A Business Number (BN) is a federally-assigned, nine-digit business identifier used in Canada to simplify dealing with the federal government. Businesses in British Columbia only need a Business Number if registering for any of the following programme accounts:
- Corporate income tax
- Certain other purposes
To obtain a Business Number, submit a BN Form 1 (Request for Your Business Number). The BN number should be used when communicating with any federal government department, such as the CRA, and many provincial government departments, concerning programme accounts which require registration.
- Small Business BC has excellent information on starting a business and free guides
Tel: 604 775 5525
- Provincial OneStop Business Registry: Allows applications for various business licences and registrations at one time
- For more information on incorporating a BC company, see the Corporate Registry's website
Tel: 604 687 4680