Starting a Business

The following are general requirements and guidelines affecting most businesses. Please note, additional regulations from municipal, provincial and/or federal government may apply to your particular business.

1. Registering your Business 
You do not need to register your business if you operate it in your own personal name as a sole proprietor. If you are going to operate under a business name as a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a limited company, register your business with the provincial Registrar of Companies. A registration package may be obtained from any government agent office. You should register your business prior to obtaining a business licence. Allow at least seven days for your name search and registration.

If a sole proprietor establishes a business in his or her own name, without adding any other words, it is not necessary to register the business.

The One Stop Business Registration Service  is a quick  way of completing the most common business registration forms.

Web Site: ........ or

Contact your local Government Agent  ........ or

Registrar of Companies
2nd Floor, 940 Blanshard Street, Victoria, BC

Tel: (250) 387-7848 Fax: (250)356-0206

2. Obtaining a Business Licence 
Municipalities normally require that your business premises be licensed to conduct business within its municipal boundaries in accordance with the bylaws. In some instances, persons may be required to obtain licences in municipalities in which they do not maintain premises but do carry on business. For example, persons involved in direct sales to the consumer should contact each community in which they are doing business.

If your business is located in an incorporated municipality (city, town, village or district), obtain a business licence from the municipal business licence office. Refer to the blue pages of your telephone book for your local municipal hall

3. Land Use and Zoning
If your business is located in a municipality, check with municipal authorities to ensure conformity with zoning and building regulations. If your business is located in an unincorporated area, check with the Regional District to ensure conformity with land use designation

4. Provincial Sales Tax (Social Service Tax)
You must register with the Consumer Taxation Branch, Ministry of Finance and Corporate Relations, and collect social service tax on your taxable sales and leases if you engage in any of the following activities:

bullet selling goods at retail;
bullet leasing goods as a lessor;
bullet providing legal services;
bullet selling parking rights within the Vancouver Regional Transit Service Area;
bullet providing taxable services (e.g. repairs to goods); and,
bullet providing telecommunications services.

The Consumer Taxation Branch will issue you a Certificate of Registration and provide information on your responsibilities. To  obtain additional information,

Consumer Taxation Branch
Tel: (250) 387-0656
Tel: (604) 660-4524

5. Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST)
If your annual revenue from the sales of taxable goods and services will exceed $30,000, you are required to register for GST. Once you have registered, you will be assigned a Business Number (see next section). If your annual revenue from the sales of taxable goods and services is not expected to exceed $30,000, you are not required to register. If you do not register, you will not charge GST to your customers but neither will you be able to receive a refund for the GST paid on your business purchases.

CCRA   GST web site

 Or for more details and/or a registration kit contact the Revenue Canada Office listed in the blue pages of the telephone book.  Tel: (604)669-2990    Toll-free: 1-800-959-5525

6. Business Number
When you open one or more of Revenue Canada's four major business accounts: corporate income tax, import/export, payroll deductions and the goods and services tax (GST) - you will receive a Business Number (BN). The BN is a numbering system that identifies you and the various accounts you maintain. Business Windows are located in many major Revenue Canada offices across the country from which Business Number Registration Kits can be obtained.

In the Lower Mainland call 669-2990.
Outside the Lower Mainland call: 1-800-959-5525

7. Workers' Compensation Board (WCB)
Most business operations in British Columbia are required to have compensation coverage - about 80 per cent of all employers. Employers who are uncertain about their need to register for compensation coverage should contact the WCB for information.

Overall responsibility for complying with the Workers Compensation Act and WCB Regulations and for paying assessments rests with the employers, as the controllers of the workplace. For more information please contact:     WCB Web Site:

Tel: (604) 273-2266 Fax: (604) 276-3151
Toll Free: 1 800 661-2112

8. Labour Requirements
If you are hiring employees or subcontracting for labour, you may want to know requirements for minimum wage, statutory holidays and other employer/employee rights. To obtain this and other related information, contact the nearest Employment Standards Branch office of the Ministry of Skills, Training and Labour, listed in the blue pages of the telephone book. For details on employer/employee rights under the new Employment Standards Act and the Industrial Relations Reform Act, contact:

Employment Standards Branch

Lower Mainland: (604)660-4000
Toll Free in BC: 1 800 663-3316
Fax: (604)775-1983

9. Business Records
If you are operating a business or have a self-employment income, set up an orderly record and accounting system as required under the appropriate laws. It is recommended that you contact the nearest Revenue Canada office for relevant forms, information on expense deductions, interpretation bulletins and income tax return forms. 

Purchasing the services of a qualified accountant (like us) is recommended. 


Other Goverment Resources :

Government of Canada Small Business Resource Web Page

Government of Canada Guide For Small Businesses

B.C. Provincial Government Small Business Resource Web Page

Community Futures Development Corporation

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