Learn the differences between named and numbered corporations in Canada.
When choosing the legal name of your company, you can choose between a numbered corporation, or a named corporation.
1. Numbered Corporations
Numbered corporations receive a number that’s automatically generated by the corporate registry and acts as the corporation’s name. The only thing you have to select is the legal element fixed to the end of the generated name.
Your options for legal endings are “Inc.”, “Corp.”, “Ltd.”, “Incorporated”, “Corporation”, and “Limited”. This does not limit your corporation’s activities and is based solely on your preference.
Numbered corporations look like 1234567 Alberta Inc. / 1234567 British Columbia Corp. / 1234567 Canada Ltd. / 1234567 Ontario Limited
A numbered corporation may choose to operate under a different operating name at a later date. This can be done by registering a “trade name” with the provincial governments the business operates within. Another option is to rename your numbered corporation, but this might have other impacts on your business, so we recommend consulting a Good Lawyer first.
2. Named Corporation
A named corporation is one that you choose the operating name for, although there are some legal limitations you must follow when doing so.
3 requirements for your named corporation:
- The name must be distinct from other corporations in the jurisdiction
- The name must be descriptive of the nature of your business
- The name must have a legal ending (such as “Inc.”, “Corp.”, “Ltd.”, etc.)
Example: Bees Records Ltd. — “Bees” is a distinct word that distinguishes this record store from other record stores. “Records” describes the nature of the business, and “Ltd.” is the legal ending.
The limitations for naming your corporation:
- Can’t be primarily a geographic or personal name
- Can’t exceed 200 characters
- Can’t contain a year in parenthesis, unless the corporation is a successor corporation
- Can’t contain a number that would make the corporation look like a “Numbered Corporation” (see section 1 above)
- Can’t include government departments or abbreviations of government departments
- Can’t include the words ‘University’ or ‘College’ in the name
- Can’t reference a public institution
- Can’t contain profanity
3. Corporate Name Search
Named corporations must complete a NUANS report to verify the availability of the name and reserve it for 90 days. While the NUANS report reserves the name for the purposes of creating the corporation, it does not reserve the name for use as a trademark, nor does it guarantee that the name chosen is not confusingly similar to a registered trademark.
In the meantime, you can use this free corporate name search to get a better idea of available corporation names.
4. Changing your Company Name
Whether you start with a named or numbered corporation, you can always change both your legal corporation name or your operating name (trade name) later. This requires filing documents to amend the Articles of Incorporation or registering a name change with your respective Corporate Registry. Goodlawyer can facilitate both of these processes if you choose to rename your corporation!
Book a free Legal Concierge™ service to learn more.