FAQ

Corporate Registrations and Searches

I have a very small business. Should I form a corporation or should I register a trade name?

What's the difference between a trade name (sole proprietorship) and a corporation?

If I register a trade name, can anybody else use that name?

Is there any government office that can give me information about starting a small business?

What is a corporation?

What is a corporate annual return? Does it have anything to do with taxes?

How long do I have to file an annual return?

What will happen if I do not file my annual return?

How do I register to become a charitable organization?

How do I find the "status" of a Corporation?

What is the difference between an incorporated name search and a business name search?

I have a very small business. Should I form a corporation or should I register a trade name?    Back to top

We suggest that you seek legal advice if you are not sure if you should have a trade name or a corporation. A lawyer will help you decide which is best for your business. It is very important for you to know your legal rights and liabilities. Our staff can't give legal advice.

What's the difference between a trade name (sole proprietorship) and a corporation?    Back to top

Trade names are business names registered to an individual or a corporation. You must register a trade name through an authorized service provider if you or your business:

  • is engaged in business for trading, manufacturing, contracting or mining purposes
  • is not associated in partnership with any other person or persons
  • uses as his business name some name or designation other than his own
  • uses his own name with the addition of "and company" or some other word or phrase indicating a plurality of members in the firm.


If I register a trade name, can anybody else use that name?    Back to top

The same trade name can be used by many people. Registering the name in Alberta does not mean that you own that name. You could have legal problems if you use a name that is the same, or nearly the same, as an existing trade name, partnership name, corporation name, or trade mark. Choose your trade name carefully. We recommend you get an Alberta Business Name Report (also known as NUANS report) to see if the name is already in use. You can get a name search report from a search house. The search house will charge a fee for the name search report. Your trade name cannot contain: "Limited," "Incorporated," "Corporation," or "Limited Partnership," or any version of these words.

Is there any government office that can give me information about starting a small business?    Back to top

You can get information on starting a small business by contacting The Business Link - The Business Service Centre at 1-800-272-9675. This organization is a joint initiative of Western Economic Diversification Canada, Economic Development Edmonton and Alberta Economic Development. The federal Business Development Bank (780) 495-2277 also offers advice to small businesses.

What is a corporation?    Back to top

The Business Corporations Act defines a corporation as "a body corporate incorporated or continued under this Act and not discontinued under this Act." A corporation has the capacity, and, subject to the Business Corporations Act, the rights, powers and privileges of a natural person. A corporation has the capacity to carry on its business, conduct its affairs and exercise its powers in any jurisdiction outside Alberta to the extent that the laws of that jurisdiction permit.

What is a corporate annual return? Does it have anything to do with taxes?    Back to top

An annual return is information that the corporation must file for the year ending on the anniversary date of its incorporation or registration, or otherwise coming under the authority of the Business Corporations Act. A corporate annual return details:

  • the corporate access number
  • the name of the corporation
  • the corporation address
  • the applicable period the report applies to
  • whether changes have been made to the directors
  • a list of shareholders, their addresses, and what percentage of voting shares they hold

A Corporate Registry Annual Return has nothing to do with taxes. Contact Corporate Tax within the federal government or Alberta Corporate Tax at Alberta Finance for more information on filing a corporate tax return.



How long do I have to file an annual return?    Back to top

An annual return is due no later than the last day of the month following the anniversary month. For example, if the corporation was incorporated in June 1995, its annual return would be due no later than July 31, 1996 and all years ending July 31 thereafter.

What will happen if I do not file my annual return?    Back to top

Your corporation will eventually be struck from the register. For example, if the annual return was due June 1995 and it is not filed with the Registrar, the corporation would be struck off the register December 1, 1996.

How do I register to become a charitable organization?    Back to top

Registration of charitable organizations in Alberta is governed by the Charitable Fund-Raising Act. It lays out rules that must be followed when asking for contributions from Albertan's. If your organization is soliciting contributions for a charitable purpose, you may be required to register with Government Services. For more information please contact the Consumer Division. Charitable status for tax purposes is granted by the federal government. Call Revenue Canada - Charities Division Ottawa at 1-800-267-2384.

How do I find the "status" of a Corporation?    Back to top

Contact an AARA member agency to have a search conducted for a fee.

What is the difference between an incorporated name search and a business name search?    Back to top

The incorporated name search is reserved for 90 days for the exclusive use of the person requesting it. The business name search looks at similar names but the name being searched is not reserved.