Practical advice for choosing a company name

Incorporate under Quebec or Canadian law?
July 22, 2019

It is not always easy to find a business name, especially since the choice of name is restricted by various laws in Quebec.

First, the name of corporation must end with "inc.", "ltée", or "s.a.", unless the name contains the words " corporation " or "compagnie".

Then, you must ensure that you comply with the legislative requirements imposed by the Business Corporations Act, the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Business Corporations Legal Publicity Act, and various government regulations.

For a corporation incorporated under Quebec law, it is imperative that the name in question be French. However, not all the words in the name of the corporation must be in French. The requirement to have a French name is met when the name in question is composed of an English word with a French generic. For example, the English word "Shine" would be refused if used alone, since it is not French. However, the name "Les Entreprises Shine", or "Automobiles Shine" would probably be accepted, since the English word is preceded by a French generic. An English version of the name can also be added, but it must be an exact translation of the French name.

For a corporation incorporated under Canadian law, the name may be in English or French, and may also have a version in each language, as under Quebec law. However, incorporating a Canadian company does not allow the company to avoid Quebec's language requirements for its name. Indeed, when registering the Canadian corporation with the Registraire des entreprises, it is imperative to declare a business name in French, otherwise the registration application will be refused.

In addition, the name of the company must not be used by another company or be confusing with another company. This is one of the checks carried out by the IncorporationQuébec.net team when we receive a new incorporation application. However, you can do a preliminary verification yourself by consulting the Registraire des entreprises, to check if the name you are considering is not already in use.

In addition, it is always a good idea to check whether a domain name corresponding to the envisaged business name is available. Having a website to promote your business online has become almost unavoidable, and a good professional domain name is an asset. You can check the availability of a domain name on the following website: https://whois.net. It is recommended to use domains ending in ".com", ".net", ".org", or ".ca". These are so-called "top level" extensions, which allow for better referencing in search engines such as Google or Bing.

Finally, it should be noted that in addition to the official name of the company, other business names, also called "assumed names", may be used and registered with the Registraire des entreprises. For example, a company with a numerical designation may do business under another business name, as long as that name meets the requirements discussed above. However, this assumed name cannot end with "inc.", "ltée", or "s.a.".

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