As the COVID-19 lockdown impact continues to hit people worldwide, Canada continues to show its support not only for Canadian citizens and residents but also for small business owners and encouraging business immigration to Canada.

Since the Prime Minister announced his initial $82 Billion Economic Response Plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, $ 27 billion will be used to ease the financial strain and stress faced by Canadian businesses and workers. The government has added additional measures to help the business sector.
Photo by Matthew Henry

In addition to a temporary 10 percent wage subsidy, small businesses were also eligible to receive 75% of workers' wages for up to 12 weeks, from March 15 to June 6, 2020, which helped employers rehire workers who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Trudeau also announced that a 50% rent rebate was available to commercial property owners from April to June if they agreed to offer small business tenants a 75% discount and promise not to evict tenants during these three months.

And to top it all off, small businesses also still have access to various interest-free loans from various financial institutions for up to $ 40,000, with up to $ 10,000 of debt wiped off the map if the loan is repaid by the end of December 2022.

These are just some of the few ways that Canada cares about its citizens and permanent residents. Isn't this the kind of environment you would like to create for your new business?

How To Start A Business In Canada

Are you a Canadian who has an established business in your own country and would like to start a business in Canada? Or are you not a Canadian who would like to open a new company in Canada?

There are a number of steps you should take before you can start and run a Canadian business. Some of the things you will be required include registering to pay sales tax and getting a business license.
Expanding Your Business Into Canada

Expanding into Canada for an already established foreign business is simple: each province has registration procedures (and fees) for registering outside the province.

For example, suppose you, a non-Canadian, are currently running a corporation in India and opening a business in Ontario. In that case, you need to register your business as a non-professional corporation in that province.

To register outside of the province, you will need a Service Agent, " an individual, 18 years of age or older, who resides in Ontario, or a corporation with its registered office in Ontario."

Note that although Ontario is a province in this example, all Canadian provinces and territories have similar requirements.

Suppose you are in the process of starting a business in Canada. In that case, you will need to contact the province's provincial registry in which you want to do business and complete the necessary procedure. If you wish to do business in many provinces, you will need to register your new business separately in each province.

On the other hand, if you are not a Canadian, want to open a company in Canada, and do not yet have an established business in your country of origin, there are several ways to open a business in Canada.

Start A Business In Canada By Immigrating

First, if you want to live in Canada, you can apply to enter Canada as a business immigrant. It is the only way you can start a business in Canada and live there.

When you look at the information about immigration to Canada from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you will see two types of business immigration programs: the start-up visa program and the self-employed program.

The full requirements for obtaining these visas are available online, but here is a summary of the main criteria:

The Start-Up Visa Requirements

If you apply for a start-up visa, you will need to meet these requirements:
  • You should be eligible to apply for a visa to Canada and meet the general eligibility requirements applicable to all immigrants.
  • You have a qualified business and a letter of support from the designated organization.
  • You should meet the language requirements.
  • Have sufficient funds to pay your way while your business gets off the ground.

Self-Employed Persons Visa Requirements

To qualify for this option, you should show the following:
  • You meet the general eligibility requirements for all immigrants to Canada
  • You should have a minimum of two years of relevant experience related to the job you are going to do
  • Are you planning to be self-employed? Are you coming to Canada?
  • You will make an economic contribution to Canada-assessed using a selection grid, on which you will need to score at least 35 points.

How To Start Your Business In Canada Without Living There

If you do not move to Canada and are not a Canadian citizen or land immigrant (have permanent resident status), you can still open a company in Canada.

It is essential to understand that the rules on who can and who cannot start certain types of businesses are determined by Canada's provinces and differ from province to province (or territory).

For example, the Province of British Columbia currently has the most flexible rules for non-resident businesses. In this province, anyone can establish an individual business, partnership, or corporation, regardless of whether they are a Canadian citizen or not.

To start a business in British Columbia and many other provinces, you need to:
  • Have a physical address for your business (the mailbox is not sufficient)
  • Have the appropriate work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Submit your application to Investment Canada for review. (Investment Canada Act States that "If you acquire control of an existing Canadian business or want to create a new unrelated Canadian business, subject to this Act, and they must submit either a Notification or an Application for review.")
  • Then you are ready to take the steps necessary to build your new business.
If you desire to start a business in any other province or territory, you will have to check their specific requirements.

If they do not allow foreigners to start a business that you would like to start there, you can form a partnership or corporation with one or more Canadian citizens or land immigrants.

Starting A Business With A Partner From Canada

If you live in Canada or not, you will have the opportunity to set up a new business with a Canadian business partner's option. In this case, you can create a partnership and simply use your partner's address as the business location or incorporate it in Canada, subject to the restrictions imposed on foreign directors.

For corporations, according to the Ontario Business Corporations Act, at least 25% of the directors must be residents of Canada (unless 25% of the directors are an integer rounded to the nearest integer). If the business has fewer than four directors, at least one of them must be a resident of Canada (S. 118(3)).

When you start a business in Canada, if that company is a partnership, you will need to register your partnership in the province or territory you intend to do business with. You should contact the province's provincial register in which you want to do business and follow the necessary procedure.​

If the business you are starting is a corporation, you first need to decide whether you will incorporate your business at the federal or provincial level.

What Do You Need To Register Business In Canada

Before Registration

Before you can register and officially start your business, you need to make a few decisions about the company you want to create.

The type of legal entity you are creating and the company name you choose are important fundamentals. Therefore, you will probably want to spend some time thinking about them and seeking professional advice if necessary.

Choose Your Business Type

When you register your business, you should confirm your business's type of legal structure. The most common options are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, or cooperative.

Each business option has its advantages and disadvantages, so you need to research the most suitable one for your needs.

For example, a sole proprietor is simple and easy to register but means that you will be liable for all the debts incurred by your company. Whereas registering a business requires a little more work. Still, it means that your company is a separate legal entity, and you are not necessarily personally responsible for the debts, obligations, or actions taken by the company.

Partnerships can be created as full partnerships, limited liability partnerships, or limited liability partnerships, and usually, this means that you will still be responsible for the debts and obligations of the business.

Creating a partnership with a Canadian resident may be a reasonable way to start a business here if you are not a citizen yourself and do not intend to move to Canada to run your company.

Suppose you are unsure what business structure will meet your needs; you might need professional advice. You could hire an RCIC Canada consultant. It is the person who will do all the tedious paperwork for you.

Select A Business Name

In addition to choosing the nature of your business you want to create, you need to select a name. It can be straightforward if you have a clear idea of the name you want to use.

However, you will still need to make sure that the name can be officially registered and has not yet been registered by another entrepreneur for a similar venture.

You should choose something memorable that describes the product or service you provide for the best possible results.

Your Personal Business Number

Upon registration of your business with the federal government, you will receive a business number (BN). This unique number is used whenever you deal with the government to sort out taxes, wages, import licensing, and so on.

If you live in Quebec, you will also need to register with the Registrar des Entreprises to make working with the Quebec government easy.

Registering On Provincial And Territorial Level

In most cases, in addition to registering your business with the federal government, you will also need to register with your local government.

The exact process you will need to follow will depend on where you live and where your company is registered. All the details you need for your location should be online.

When you register with both the federal government and the provincial or municipal governments in your area, you may need to obtain special permits or licenses that allow you to conduct business.

For example, if you are a food and beverage manufacturer, you may need to apply for a Safe Food for Canadians license. You may also need a permit to manufacture or supply animal products or pet food, as well as to sell pets, wood, and plant products.

You should check online to see if you have the necessary permits in your area and industry. Therefore, you can get all your paperwork sorted out earlier. All the details you need are available on the Canadian government website.


The Bottom Line

If you are not a Canadian and want to start a business in Canada and live there, you will have to immigrate to Canada or find one or more Canadians to work together.

The only way you could live in Canada permanently and run your business is to immigrate to Canada.

It is widely believed that starting a business in Canada is much easier than immigrating there. Therefore, if you are ready to open your new start-up in the brightest country, make sure you have collected all the necessary documents and know all the laws and regulations.