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Quebec Name Search
A company's name must be unique in the province of Quebec. The company name must have a French version where another language for the name is chosen. You may select a bilingual name only. When you apply for articles of incorporation you must also prove its uniqueness by completing a Name Search.
A name search report provides a list of names extracted from the register of sole proprietorships, partnerships and legal persons and is based on the name you would like to use for your corporation.
The report lists names that may be confused with your proposed name. Before making a final decision on the name of your corporation you must check the report. This report is mandatory and must be included with your incorporation documents.
Your company name must not:
- contravene the Charter of the French language (chapter C-11)
- be offensive or obscene
- falsely suggest that the corporation is a non-profit group
- falsely suggest that the corporation is a public authority or related to a public authority or related to another person, partnership or group.
- be identical to a name used by another person, partnership or group in Quebec
- be confusingly similar to a name used by another person, partnership or group in Quebec
- mislead third persons in any manner
- incorrectly indicate the company's juridicial form, or fail to indicate such form where so required by law.
Federal Name Search (Nuans®)
The Director under the Canada Business Corporations Act is responsible for enforcing the name regulations. When you submit your proposed name with the related NUANS® search report, he will analyze your name to see if it complies with those regulations. Your name will be approved or rejected accordingly.
The name regulations instruct the Director to reject proposed names that :
- are likely to cause confusion
- lack distinctiveness
- connote government, a university, or a financial intermediary such as a trust and loan, or an insurance company, or a bank
- use an individual's name without consent
- are deceptively misdescriptive
- are obscene
- use prohibited terms
In addition, the Act gives the Director responsibility with respect to:
- legal elements
- bilingual names.
Legal Elements - A corporate name will be rejected if it does not have one of the following legal elements:
Limited, Limitée, Incorporated, Incorporée, Corporation, Société par actions de régime fédérale, Ltd., Ltée, Inc., Corp., S.A.R.F.
The legal element used in the English and French forms should correspond.
Bilingual Names - You may request your corporate name in an English form only, a French form only, a combined English and French form, or separate English and French forms. Your corporation may use and be legally designated by any such form. [see subsection 10(3) of the CBCA]
A combined English and French form has only one legal element. "Inc." is a suitably bilingual element for this purpose, e.g. Coiffure CHICO Hairdressing Inc. [see Regulation 34] If you select a combined English and French form for your name, you must use the full combined form to legally designate your corporation. If your corporate name has separate English and French forms, your business can be legally designated by either of them.
As a general rule, the English and French forms of a corporate name do not have to be literal translations, but a corporation cannot have French and English forms of a corporate name that are so different as to appear to belong to two different corporations. Where there is concern this may be the case, the proposed name will be rejected.
A request for a bilingual name must often be accompanied by two NUANS® reports. The following criteria should be used to judge whether or not a bilingual name (whether with separate or combined English and French forms) requires two searches.
Where the English and French forms are phonetically similar, only one search may be necessary.
For example: DDD Distributions Inc. (English form)/ Les Distributions DDD Inc. (French form)
Names that are exact translations but are phonetically different require two searches.
Blue Cross Blood Collection Inc. (English form)
Collecte de sang Croix Bleue Inc. (French form)
Some English and French forms may be phonetically different, but share a substantial distinctive element and differ only in respect of a minor, commonly used descriptive element. In such a situation, a single search is often sufficient because it will turn up both English and French names.
Placements Protar Holdings Inc. - substantial distinctive plus minor common descriptive elements
Quadra Management Inc./ Gestion Quadra Inc. - substantial distinctive plus minor common descriptive elements
Ontario Name Search (Ontario-biased Nuans® Search)
Corporation Name - The name for an Ontario business corporation must comply with the Business Corporations Act and Regulations.
Legal Element - The word "Limited", "Limitée", "Incorporated", "Incorporée" or "Corporation" or the corresponding abbreviations "Ltd.", "Ltée", "Inc." or "Corp." shall be part of the name of every corporation.
English/French Versions - The name of a corporation may be in an English form only, a French form only, an English and a French form combined, or an English form and a French form which are equivalent but used separately.
When the name is to have an English form and a French form to be used separately, the "/" mark shall separate the two forms in the name.
Versions in Languages Other Than English - A corporation may have in its articles, a special provision permitting it to set out its name in any language and the corporation may be legally designated by that name.
This would allow the corporation to legally use a foreign version of its corporate name for the purposes of conducting business, however, the foreign version would not be entered into the Branch's electronic database (ONBIS) and, therefore, would not appear on a Certificate of Status produced in respect of the corporation name.
Identical names - Corporation names can only be duplicated in the case of an amalgamation, or where the corporations comply with S.6 (1) or S.6 (2) of the Regulations. All other instances prohibit the use of a name for a corporation that is identical to the name or former name of another corporation, whether the name is active or not.
In order to acquire a name that is not identical, the name may be varied by the addition or deletion of words, numerals, or initials, or by substituting one of the other required legal elements or their corresponding abbreviations.
The addition or deletion of punctuation marks or other symbols is not sufficient to make the name different for the purposes of the Act.
Other Business Names - A corporation may carry on its business activities under a name other than its corporate name, provided that the name is registered under the Business Names Act.
Federal Corporate Name Proposal
If you would like to have your chosen company name approved before you file your Articles of Incorporation, we can file a request for a “Name Decision Letter”. This request will be accompanied by your NUANS® report. If the name you have chosen is pre-approved, you will be informed in writing that the selected name is reserved for 90 days from the date of the NUANS® report. You may then prepare your Articles of Incorporation, at your leisure during the next 90 days.
The approval of the name may be facilitated if you provide information about your reasons for choosing the name. We strongly recommend that you provide us the following information: 1. describe the corporation's activities, products and services, 2. target clientele, 3. where you expect the corporation to operate, and 4. the origin of the distinctive element of the corporate name.
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