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How to incorporate a business

Due to a high volume of requests, applications are taking longer than usual to process. You can assume your application is processing right up to 5 business days following your incorporation application, and you don't need to contact us to confirm.

Incorporating your company federally is a four-step process. Keep reading or incorporate now.

On this page

Note

This information is not intended to replace legal advice. Consult a lawyer or another professional advisor to ensure that the specific needs of your corporation are met.

Step 1: Name your corporation

Every incorporated business must have a name that legally identifies it. This is called a corporate name. The first step to incorporating is deciding on how you want to name your corporation.

Your corporation can have either a corporate:

  • word name, made up of letters and symbols; or
  • numbered name, for example, 12345678 Canada Inc.

A numbered name is the simplest way to name your corporation because we assign the number. You can use a different name to conduct business.
With a word name, you have the legal right to use it across Canada once Corporations Canada approved your name. To get a word name, make sure to choose custom incorporation when you start incorporating online.

Step 2: Create your articles of incorporation

This step establishes the structure of your corporation.

If you are incorporating a small, private business, consider choosing basic incorporation. This pre-packaged incorporation option takes the guesswork out of this step, and your corporation will have:

  • pre-determined articles of incorporation (you can amend them later, as needed)
  • one or two classes of shares
  • a maximum of 10 directors
  • an assigned, numbered corporate name.

Alternatively, you can customize your articles of incorporation to suit your specific business needs. In this case, choose custom incorporation and specify:

  • your corporate name
  • your share structure and any restrictions on share transfers
  • your corporation's number of directors
  • any restrictions you might want to set for your business or business activities
  • any other provisions.

Language of the articles

Your articles of incorporation can be in the official language of your choice. They can be:

  • in either official language (English or French)
  • in both official languages (English and French)
  • bilingual (using both official languages equally).

Step 3: Establish the initial registered office address and first board of directors

Every incorporated business must have a registered office address and a board of directors.

The registered office is where you must keep your corporate records and where official documents will be served on the corporation. Choose an address where you will be sure to receive any documents sent there since, legally, they will be assumed to have been received by the corporation.

You also need to decide who will make up your corporation's board of directors. Check the Director requirements to make sure your directors meet the eligibility criteria. When you incorporate, you have to disclose each director's first name, last name, address, and indicate whether or not they are a resident Canadian.

Note

Once incorporated, your registered office address and director information will be public. For details on the public availability of corporate information, see Public disclosure of corporate information.

Step 4: Submit and pay the fee

The fastest and simplest way to submit your incorporation application and pay is through our Online Filing Centre.

You can also apply by email or mail using a PDF form (available upon request).

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