Depending on how you are planning on branding your business, you are probably going to have to register your business name with the BC Business Registry prior to starting work in your private practice. If you are planning on only using your personal name as your business name, for example, “Jane Smith” you can just carry on without the need to deal with this step. However, most people want to have something more that just their name or something different than their name entirely, such as “Jane Smith Counselling & Consulting” or “Fly Away Home Counselling & Consulting”, which means you will be required to register that business name.
Registering a business name in BC is a relatively straightforward process, costing about $70 and has two steps:
Step 1: Submit a Name Approval Request
Your business name must first be approved before it can be registered and here is the website that you will need to go through for this step:
You can submit up to three different names at once, but make sure you order them with your favourite first. If the first name gets approved, they won’t even look at the others, so rank them in the order of your preference.
Your name should consist of something distinctive and something descriptive. Using the example above “Fly Away Home” would be distinctive and the “Counselling & Consulting” is the descriptive. This lets people know what you do so there is no confusion or misleading the public. Unless you are incorporated you cannot add Inc. at the end of your name.
It currently costs $31.58 to submit a request (regardless of if you sent in one, two or three choices) and once your name has been approved it’s reserved for 56 calendar days. If you don’t register your approved name during that time, you will have to go through the approval process again.
Unless you want to pay for the expedited approval, they will let you know when you submit how long you can expect to wait for a response (mine took two days) and if you provide your email, they will notify you faster.
Step 2: Register your approved business name
Once you have your approved name, go to the following website to register your business name:
If you are registering online as a Sole Proprietor (as most people going into private practice are) or as a General Partnership you will need the following information:
- the Name Approval Request Number given to you on your approved Name Request results.
- business and partner(s) address information.
- the existing Business Number, if applicable (You can do this step later if it applies to you)
- the day your business “started” in British Columbia.
- to pay $40.00 online using Visa, MasterCard, or American Express
Registering your business name is the first step to becoming a legal business. Make sure you don’t skip this step to becoming officially official!