Business Name Registration

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published Sept. 8, 2008 | Modified May 8, 2020
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Business name registration is a simple process that can deliver huge benefits for small business owners. Here's why you should register your company name if you're a creative entrepreneur and where to go to get it done.

Business Name Registration is easy

Before I went through the business name registration process, I was convinced it would be a long, drawn-out, expensive and difficult process.

I was completely wrong. It ended up being incredibly easy and inexpensive.

It took me less than an hour, and cost less than $100 (in Canada). I had almost all of my paperwork in my hands that day, and the rest came in less than a month.

The cost and process for registering your business name will vary from on location to another, so it's important to check with your appropriate local government office to find out which regulations apply to you. I've provided some links below to get you started

Once you're ready to make your new business official, find your closest government office. You may have a choice of doing everything online or paying them a visit in person. They will show you everything you need to know about registering your business name in your area.

Why Should You Register a Business Name?

Registering your company name involves paying a fee and completing some paperwork. It's a simple process that comes with several benefits.

1. You'll do a formal business name check

When you do a formal business name check, you will discover whether anyone is operating a company under the name you have chosen. Depending upon the location of your company and the type of business you are running, you may not be able to use a name if another company is already using it.

Keep in mind, I'm not a lawyer, so please do check with one if you have any questions about the legalities around choosing a specific company name.

If you fail to do a business name check and you later discover you are operating under a name that you were not entitled to use, you may be forced to change it. You'll have wasted a huge amount of time and money in creating promotional materials and developing name recognition for your company.

Related: How to Name a Business

2. You may need to register your business name before you can open a merchant account or a business bank account

Banks may not open a merchant account or business account for you without proper documentation that your company name is registered. If you want the professionalism and convenience of a merchant account to accept credit cards and/or a business bank account, you'll need to register your business.

3. You may need to provide your business number to access wholesale supplies

When you register your company name you will likely be issued a business number. This number is required by many wholesalers before you can open an account with them.

If you want to keep your business costs low, you'll need to consider buying your raw materials wholesale and not retail. If you intend to open accounts with craft supply wholesalers, registering your company will provide you with the paperwork you need to demonstrate to wholesalers that your business is, in fact, legitimate.

4. You may need to collect tax

Depending upon where you live, you may also be issued a reseller's permit or tax ID number (the name of the actual document varies from location to location).

This number and/or document is important for a couple of reasons.

Obtaining the number can be the first step in the process of collecting and remitting sales tax to your government sales tax on items that you sell.

Again, I am not an accountant or tax law expert, so do consult a professional if you require specific advice. Your local business development office can direct you to the professionals you need to meet with.

5. You may need a reseller's permit to participate in craft shows

A valid reseller's permit is required at many art and craft shows. If you carefully read the terms for participating in many art and craft shows, they will note that you must display a valid reseller's permit in your booth.

Related: Choosing a Business Name

Where to Register Your Business Name

Registering your business name will probably be a lot easier than you would expect. It can save you from a lot of potential hassles, provide a sense of professionalism and open up opportunities for your business.

Here's where you can get started:

United States - Small Business Administration (SBA): The online SBA business guide provides plenty of information about launching a business including information about where and how to register a new business name in the United States

Canada - Links to register a company name in Canada: Registering your trade name is done through provincial offices in Canada. The link above takes you to a Government of Canada site which links to the each relevant provincial office.

Setting up a business in the United Kingdom

Register your business name in Australia

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