Incorporating a business in Canada used to involve completing various paper forms and submitting them to a government office. Today the process is digital. It now involves filling-in and submitting applications online at provincial or federal registries. Before you do this, you need to make a number of decisions about the corporate name, shares and shareholders, your registered office, and more.
You do not have to do the filing process yourself. There are service companies which, for a fee, will do the actual online filing for you, but even then you will need to do most of the work yourself. And once you have done the preparation (which only you can do), why pay someone else to type the information into online forms? This article takes you through the steps.
We strongly recommend you read all the material in these pages before you start your incorporation process.
Where to Incorporate
For a typical Canadian business, the decision where to incorporate is simple: the province or territory in which the company will do business.
Federal incorporation makes little sense for a small business — it brings added paperwork and is best suited to companies which expect to have a physical presence in more than one province.
You may be tempted (depending on which province you live in) to do a federal incorporation because it is less expensive than doing an incorporation in your province. The reality is, your ongoing costs of paperwork for the federal corporation will be a lot more than the costs of maintaining your provincial corporation!
An on-line presence — selling or marketing via the Internet — is not a physical presence. Internet retailing start-ups really don′t need the added paperwork of federal incorporation if they will be operated from one province or territory.
You do not need a federal incorporation to do business with people in another province. What you do need to do is register with that province, that you are doing business there. A federal incorporation, with all the added annual paperwork it brings, really only makes sense when you are large enough to start establishing a physical presence in other provinces.