Incorporating your company is a lot like having a baby, complete with sleepless nights, big-picture thoughts about the future, and plenty of messes to clean up. But it’s also a lot of fun – starting with the act of choosing a name!
Your corporate name is the first impression potential clients will have of your business. You will want your name to be interesting, unique, easy for potential clients to remember, and easy to spell. You will also need to make sure your name is in compliance with the Alberta Business Corporations Act (ABCA) and the Alberta Business Corporation Regulation (ABCR).
THREE ELEMENTS OF A GOOD CORPORATE NAME
The Distinctive Element
From a marketing/branding perspective, the distinctive element of your corporate name is the most important. It’s what distinguishes your business from competitors. In the example of Suzie’s Homemade Sweets Inc., Suzie is considered the distinctive element.
The Descriptive Element
The descriptive element of the name will describe the type of products and services your business offers. In the example of Arnold’s Auto Repair Ltd., Auto Repair is the descriptive element.
We do not advise new businesses to incorporate a name that consists only of a distinctive or descriptive element.
- Painters Inc. would not be permitted, as it lacks distinctiveness.
- Wally Brothers Inc. may sound like a good business name, however there is nothing in the name that indicates the services the business offers – it lacks a descriptive element.
Incorporating a name with only a distinctive or descriptive element could limit the success of your newly created business.
The Legal Element
All incorporated names must end with a legal element. There are many variations of the legal element that communicate the same message about the corporation’s structure. These legal elements – or their French versions – are all acceptable and have the same intended meaning:
- Limited or Ltd.
- Incorporated or Inc.
- Corporation or Corp.
These legal elements mean the liability of the shareholders is limited to the capital contributed to purchase the shares. You’re able to use whichever legal element you feel suits your corporation best.
Make Sure the Corporate Name You Want is Available
Alberta corporations are prohibited from using names that are identical or similar to any other name that has been incorporated in Alberta or across the country (federally). You must therefore determine the availability of your selected name before you incorporate.
- A NUANS is a specialized search report that compares your selected name to a database of existing corporate names to determine availability in the province of Alberta.
- If the NUANS determines that the name is available, the name will be reserved for you for a period of 90 days.
- You must present the completed Alberta biased NUANS report at the time of incorporation, within this 90-day period.
- You can complete a NUANS request at any AMA centre.
Occasionally, an incorporator may decide the incorporated name is not an important aspect of the business. In this case, a numbered corporation is created. As with named Alberta corporations, numbered Alberta corporations are also comprised of three elements:
- A numbered element – automatically generated by Alberta Corporate Registries, followed by…
- …the word Alberta, followed by…
- …the legal element of your choosing
For example: 2056486 Alberta Inc.
When you choose to incorporate as a numbered Alberta corporation, a NUANS report is not required.
We’re Here to Help
Remember, selecting a name for your company is one of the most important decisions you will make for your new business. Corporate names are highly regulated and the rules set out in the ABCA can be overwhelming (hey, we said it was like having a baby!).
Let us assist you in determining if a name or a certain element of a name is not recommended. Our professional certified registry agents will work with you and your schedule. Simply choose how you’d like to contact us
- Fax:780-989-6378 or toll-free to 1-855-333-6378 (within Canada and USA)
- In-person: Find an AMA centre near you
- To use our Corporate Registry services, you must be a member in good standing with the AMA, CAA or AAA.
- A certified registry agent may provide assistance, but please be advised that the role of the agent does not include the provisions of legal advice. AMA recommends that you consult a lawyer licensed to practice law in Alberta on all matters pertaining to the regulations of documents in the corporate registry.