Things you Should Know about Starting a Business in Canada

By Randall Orser | Home Based Business

Even though there are rules and regulations that would-be business owners need to follow in Canada, it was still ranked as the third best place in the world to start a business in 2016. In 2019 according to the World Bank’s Doing Business it only took one procedure and an average of five days to register a firm.  However, the ease of doing business ranks at 22 in a range of 1–190. 

If you are considering starting a business in Canada, here are some things you should know:

  1. You need to be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant to start a business in Canada.  You cannot do it on a student or visitor visa or while on a work permit.  You may be able to form a partnership with other Canadians, but it does not mean that you can reside in Canada, you would need to become an immigrant.
  2. Not all businesses need to be registered.  If you start a sole proprietorship and use only your legal name as the name of your business, then you do not need to register your business with your province.  In Newfoundland and Labrador no sole proprietorships or partnerships need to register their business names.  You do however need to check if your municipality requires you to register your business.
  3. Registering your business name does not protect it from use by others.  Different forms of business ownership offer more business name protection, but none provide full protection.
  4. The Canadian system of Incorporation is very different from that in the US.  Canada has no limited liability corporations (LLCs) other than those of professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.  There are also no S corporation structures in Canada.  Incorporation can be established on a federal or provincial level.  To protect yourself from liability incorporation is always the best form of ownership to consider.

Financing:  Most business start-ups are financed by their owners using their own money.  Most Canadian small business start with less than $5000 according to an Intuit Canada study of entrepreneurship.  There are few grants for Canadian start-ups and those available are usually specific to particular industries, locations such as Northern Ontario and groups of people such as aboriginals.   

Business Loans:  The long-time option for financing both start-ups and established businesses is the Canada Small Business Loans Financing Program.   However there are also other options such government sponsored and non-profit agencies that provide loans as well as private loan sources.

Small Business Taxes:  Business owners can get back the amount of GST that they pay on goods and services consumed during the course of doing business.  Small businesses do not have to register to charge and remit GST if they qualify as a Small Supplier making less than $30,000 per year.  Even if you make less than $30,000 per year you may want to register your business because otherwise you will not be able to claim back any GST you have paid out on business purchases through Input Tax Credits. 

Income Tax Deductions:  Deductions such as Investment Tax Credits are open to sole proprietors and partnerships.  In addition, home based business owners can claim The Business-Use-Of-Home-Deduction and legitimate business expenses and write these off against their business income.  

From an article by Susan Ward


About the Author

President/CEO Number Crunchers® Accounting Inc. Learn how to just say stuff it to this bookkeeping thing with our 'Just Say: "Stuff It" To Bookkeeping program.