How To Start A Business In Canada

Open a Company in Canada

It often happens that a person who has already developed their business in their home country is looking for an opportunity to expand it abroad. Canada, as a developed Western economy, is often a top choice for such ventures. If you are one of these people or you want to open a company in Canada, this article is for you.

Open a Company

It is possible to open a company in Canada without being a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant (permanent resident). In this case, you are entitled to set up a partnership or a corporation with one or more permanent residents or landed immigrants.

If you are a non-Canadian entering into a partnership in Canada, then naturally this person would have to be a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant. The case is different with corporations. According to The Canada Business Corporations Act, at least one out four directors must be Canadian.

If you are considering to start a partnership in Canada, such partnership must be registered in the province or territory where you intend to do business. Registration can be done by contacting the provincial registry of your selected province. They will advise you how to go through the required procedure.

Again, with corporations the situation is a bit different. You will first need to decide whether you are going to incorporate a business on the federal or provincial level. However, do note that if you incorporate your business on the federal level, you still need to register it within the province or territory of its operation.

Read about business formation types.

Expanding a Business into Canada

If you decide to expand your existing business into Canada, the process is not too complicated. Each Canadian province has clear registration procedures for opening of a subsidiary to a business which has been incorporated outside of the province.

So, if you are not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and you operate a business in another country, you will have to register this business as an extra-provincial corporation in the Canadian province where you intend to do business.

To establish an extra-provincial corporation, you will need an agent for service, which can be an individual aged 18 or older who is a resident of Ontario, or a corporation with a registered office in Ontario.

All Canadian provinces and territories have similar registration requirements. To start a business in Canada, you will need to go through the required procedure of the provincial registry. In case you intend to do business in other provinces too, you will have to register it separately.

Start a Business through Immigration

If you want to open a business in Canada and you also want to live in Canada, it’s only natural that you apply to come to Canada as a business immigrant. You can come to Canada as a business immigrant either through the Start-Up Visa Program or the Self-Employed Persons Program.

Please read our article on Start-Up Visa program to learn more details.

In order to come to Canada as a self-employed person, you must either:

  •       have relevant experience in athletics or cultural activities and be able to contribute to the cultural or athletic life of Canada significantly, or
  •       you must have experience in farm management, and intend and be able to buy and manage a farm in Canada.

Other factors will also be considered in your application to come live and work in Canada as a self-employed individual. They include education, age, adaptability and English or French proficiency.

The bottom line is if you are a non-Canadian who wants to start a business in Canada, you will either have to immigrate to Canada or find yourself a Canadian partner or two. If you want to live in Canada and operate your business, then your only way is through immigration.