Protecting Your Business Name

As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably spent a lot of time considering how you’ll grow your business’ reputation. The name of your business isn’t just what it’ll be known as; it’s a key component of brand recognition. Protecting your business name can secure your brand’s value and prevent other companies from using the same or a similar name.

Registering a Business Name

Sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations can register business names with the BC Business Registry. Doing so creates a public record that you’re running under the registered name.

It’s usually best to register your business name, as banks often require it. Even if not, the benefits typically outweigh the costs. But keep in mind that these registrations don’t always provide the degree of name protection that people expect.

Sole Proprietorship or Partnership

There isn’t any name protection for names of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Having an approved name for these types of businesses also doesn’t guarantee it’ll be approved for an incorporated company if you decide to do so.

To look through preexisting business names, search registered BC companies and organizations. To help you choose the right business name, check out our Business Name Request and Approval service.


Registering your business name could prevent similar or identical business names from being registered by others. But, when it comes to incorporation name approval, the corporate registry doesn’t review the business name registry. This means a corporate name similar to a registered business name could still be approved.


Once incorporated, BC companies will have their name listed on the BC Business Registry. This guarantees exclusive use of their name and can also prevent a similar oridentical name from being used for federal incorporation. Some businesses incorporate just to get name protection, which isn’t available by simply registering a business name. 

Being on the registry will also prevent non-BC corporations, other than federal corporations, from registering their names as part of becoming extra-provincially registered to do business in BC.

Incorporate now or later?

This can be a difficult decision for start-ups. Name protection is only one of many factors that should be considered. If more than one person is taking an ownership position, it may be a good idea to incorporate unless there’s a tax reason for choosing a partnership structure. The primary considerations for businesses with one owner are usually tax and liability-based, but name protection can still be critical to some. 

Federal Incorporation

When a corporate name is submitted for federal incorporation, Industry Canada’s NUANS report will list any similar registered business names. So, it’s possible that a registered name in BC could prevent a similar name from being used for federal incorporation. 

Other factors will also be considered when a corporate name is submitted for approval, such as the type of business and where it operates. As a general rule, they look to see whether a proposed name will cause confusion with an existing name already registered.


A registered trademark is different from a business or incorporated name registration. If you’re looking for name protection that will prevent others from using the same or similar names, you should consider this type of protection.

For more information, look at the Government of Canada’s page on Trademarks or our article, Trademarks: What They Are and Where They Fit Into Your Small Business Brand.

Small Business BC is Here to Help

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse our business articles.