If you’re planning to start a business in Nova Scotia, you’ll need to apply for a Nova Scotia business license before you can legally operate.
The process of getting a business license in Nova Scotia can seem daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In this guide we simplify the process for you.
Step #1: Determine Your Business Structure
Before applying for a business license in Nova Scotia, it’s important to determine the legal structure of your business. The most common types of business structures in Nova Scotia are sole proprietorships, partnerships, and corporations. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that’s right for your business.
A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common type of business structure in Nova Scotia. It’s easy to set up and maintain, and you have complete control over your business. As a sole proprietor, you’re personally responsible for all debts and liabilities of your business, and your personal assets can be seized to pay off business debts.
A partnership is a business structure where two or more people share ownership of a business. Partnerships can be general partnerships or limited partnerships. In a general partnership, all partners share equal responsibility for the debts and liabilities of the business. In a limited partnership, there is at least one general partner who is responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business, and one or more limited partners who are only liable for the amount of their investment.
A corporation is a separate legal entity from its owners. It can be owned by one person or many, and it can issue shares of stock to raise capital. Corporations in Nova Scotia offer limited liability protection to their owners, meaning that their personal assets are not at risk if the business incurs debts or liabilities. However, corporations are more complex to set up and maintain than sole proprietorships or partnerships.
It’s important to carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of each business structure before making a decision. For more information on choosing the right business structure for your business, see the Nova Scotia Business Inc. website.
Once you have determined the legal structure of your business, you can move on to the next step in obtaining a business license in Nova Scotia.
Step #2: Register Your Business Name
The next step in getting a business license is to register your Nova Scotia business . Most businesses in Nova Scotia must be registered with the province’s Registry of Joint Stock Companies before they can start operating. Here’s how you can do it:
- Reserve a Name for Your Business: The first step is to reserve a name for your business. You can do this online by completing the Reserve Name Form on the Government of Nova Scotia website here. The Registry of Joint Stock Companies needs to approve the name before you can proceed with registering your business.
- Complete the Registration Form: Once you have reserved your business name, you need to complete the Sole Proprietor Registration Form online. You can find the form on the Government of Nova Scotia website here. The registration form requires you to provide personal information, such as your name, address, and contact information, as well as information about your business, such as your business name, address, and type of business.
- Submit Your Application: After completing the registration form, you need to submit your application, along with all the required supporting documents, to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. You can submit your application online through the Access Nova Scotia website here. The required supporting documents may include your business plan, financial statements, and other relevant documents.
- Pay the Registration Fee: Finally, you need to pay the registration fee. The fee varies depending on the type of business you are registering and can be found on the Government of Nova Scotia website here. You can pay the fee online through the Access Nova Scotia website.
Once you have completed these steps, your business name will be registered with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, and you can proceed with obtaining your business license.
Step #3: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses
Before starting a business in Nova Scotia, it is important to obtain the necessary permits and licenses. This includes a Municipal Business License, Provincial Business License, and Federal Business License.
Municipal Business License
A Municipal Business License is required for businesses operating within a municipality. The type of license required varies depending on the type of business and location. For example, a food establishment may require a food service establishment license, while a home-based business may require a home occupation permit.
To obtain a Municipal Business License, contact the municipality where your business will be located. They will provide you with the necessary forms and information on the fees and requirements.
Provincial Business License
A Provincial Business License is required for businesses operating in Nova Scotia. The type of license required varies depending on the type of business. For example, a contractor may require a construction business license, while a retailer may require a retail sales tax license.
To obtain a Provincial Business License, visit Access Nova Scotia’s What Licenses and Permits Might I Need? page. This page provides a customized list of licenses and permits required for your specific business. You can also use the keyword search function to find a specific permit.
Federal Business License
A Federal Business License is required for businesses operating in industries regulated by the federal government. This includes businesses involved in banking, telecommunications, and transportation.
To obtain a Federal Business License, visit the Government of Canada’s Business Registration Online page. This page provides information on the licenses and permits required for your specific business, as well as the application process.
By obtaining the necessary permits and licenses, you can ensure that your business is operating legally and avoid any potential fines or penalties.
Step #4: Register for Taxes
When you register your business in Nova Scotia, you will also need to register for taxes. Here are the three main types of taxes you will need to register for:
If your business sells goods or services and earns more than $30,000 per year, you will need to register for the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) or the Goods and Services Tax (GST). You can register for the HST/GST online through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website or by mail. Be sure to have your Business Number (BN) ready before you start the registration process.
If you have employees, you will need to register for payroll taxes. This includes Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Pension Plan (CPP), and other deductions. You can register for payroll taxes online through the CRA website or by mail. You will need to provide information about your employees, such as their Social Insurance Numbers (SINs), and the amounts you will be deducting from their pay.
All businesses in Nova Scotia are required to file an annual tax return with the CRA. You will need to report your business income, expenses, and other deductions. Depending on the structure of your business, you may also need to file a separate personal tax return. You can file your tax return online through the CRA website or by mail.
It’s important to register for taxes as soon as possible after registering your business. Failure to register for taxes or to file your tax returns on time can result in penalties and interest charges.
Obtaining a business license in Nova Scotia is an important step in starting and operating a business in the province. It allows businesses to operate legally and ensures compliance with provincial regulations.
The process of obtaining a business license involves identifying the type of license required for your business, registering your business with the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies, and obtaining any necessary permits and licenses from the appropriate government agencies.
To help make this process easier, there are several resources available, such as BizPaL, an online service that allows users to create a customized list of licenses and permits required for their business. Additionally, Business Navigators are available to assist with navigating provincial regulations and requirements for new businesses.
It is important to note that the requirements for obtaining a business license may vary depending on the type of business and location. Therefore, it is recommended to consult with the appropriate government agencies and seek professional advice to ensure compliance with all regulations.