Depending on the type of business you are operating in Nova Scotia, you likely must register with the provincial government. Through registration, you’ll provide tax information, information about employees, and decide on a legal business structure.
You can perform the registration process completely online, which simplifies the process. However, you still need to have some basic information in hand before registering.
We’ll advise you on everything you need to know to register a business in Nova Scotia
Do I Need to Register My Business in Nova Scotia?
Although the majority of Nova Scotia businesses do need to register with the provincial government, some do not. Let’s start with the exceptions.
Other business types, such as corporations or LLPs (limited liability partnerships), must register in Nova Scotia.
Why Register a Business in Nova Scotia? Benefits of Registering a Business
Registering your business can simplify the process of paying business taxes. (Because you have to pay business taxes anyway, you might as well make it as easy as possible!)
When Do You Have to Register a Business in Nova Scotia?
You should start the registration process before you begin operations. If you need licences or a business bank account, you’ll have to register before you can obtain these items.
If you are unsure whether you will actually open a business, but you have a great business name in mind, you can just reserve the business name for now. This reservation lasts for 90 days. You then can complete the rest of the Nova Scotia business registration process within the 90 days.
How Much Does It Cost to Register a Business in Nova Scotia?
Some of the primary registration costs for a business in Nova Scotia include the following:
Understand that these costs can change at any time. Registration fees other than those listed here may apply to your business. Additionally, in a few cases, your business may not have to pay any of these fees.
What Do I Need to Register a Business in Nova Scotia?
Before starting the registration process, you need to have a few pieces of information in hand:
Where to Register a Business in Nova Scotia
Registering your business online goes through the Nova Scotia Registry of Joint Stock Companies (RJSC). Just follow the steps in that plain English article.
You will need to have the documents and information listed earlier. At the webpage, click Register Your Business or Non-Profit (step 3). Then click on the type of business structure under which you want to register.
Scroll down the page to read information on following this process. When you are ready to start, click the Start Now button.
If you would like help with registering your business online, you can pay a service to walk you through the process. Such services help you create legal documentation and complete forms you need to register your business. Some options include:
Most of these services will help you complete the registration process for up to a few hundred dollars. (Any governmental fees you must pay are separate.)
The provincial government would prefer that you register your Nova Scotia business online, as it’s often easier for everyone. However, you can visit a physical office through Access Nova Scotia.
You will need to make an appointment time to visit Access Nova Scotia. You will need to bring all the same documents and information you need for registering online. Office locations for Access Nova Scotia include:
Each office has its own unique hours of operation. Additionally, some services may not be available at a particular office location.
To make the appointment online, click the Start Now button at the book an appointment webpage. You also can call the Contact Centre to make an appointment time via telephone.
Nova Scotia Business Name Registration Lookup - How to Choose a Name for Your Nova Scotia Business
When registering a business in Nova Scotia, your business name must be unique. You can use a lookup service for this process.
The RJSC offers advice on finding a good name that has a great chance of being unique and that describes your business. It also lists the legal requirements you must follow when creating a name, based on the legal business structure you select.
Before trying to register your business name, you should check to make sure the business name is unique through the Nova Scotia provincial website. Click the Start Now button to search for free.
Once you select a name and attempt to register it with your new business, you then pay fees to the RJSC that include an official search. If you pick a name that is not unique when registering, you may have to pay these fees anyway before starting over with a new search, so it’s smart to check availability before registering.
Nova Scotia Reserve a Business Name Application - Where to Get the Application
When you are ready to reserve your business name, visit the Nova Scotia government website.
Read through the information (including the fees) and click the Start Now button to perform the reservation process online. You need to create an account with the RJSC website before you can reserve a name.
The RJSC has advice for reserving your business name. You also can print a Name Reservation Request Form and mail it to the RJSC to start the process. You can call or visit the RJSC for more information.
Nova Scotia Business Registration and Master Business Licence
After registering your business online, it can take one to two weeks to receive the Certificate of Registration and your Business number from the RJSC, regardless of the legal business structure you’re using.
When registering a business in Nova Scotia, you do not need a separate Master Business Licence. That licence is a separate part of the registration in Ontario only.
If you are operating a sole proprietorship that needs to be registered, you can visit the RJSC’s sole proprietorship webpage online and complete the registration form.
When registering online, you need to have your reserved business name, the method of payment, and any other supporting documents in a PDF format (including signatures).
You can register your partnership completely online. Visit the RJSC’s limited partnership webpage, the RJSC’s limited liability partnership webpage, or the RJSC’s general partnership webpage to start the process and to complete the appropriate registration form.
Have the reserved name for your business, the supporting documents you need in a PDF format, required signatures in a PDF format, and your payment method ready before starting the process.
You can register an extra-provincial, federal, or foreign corporation online in Nova Scotia. Visit the RJSC’s corporation webpage to start the registration process.
To register a corporation in Nova Scotia, you must have a recognized agent who lives in Nova Scotia. You can complete the corporation registration form online. Include any supporting documents and signatures required in a PDF format.
5 Steps to Register a Business in Nova Scotia
You can perform a basic search at the RJSC website to see if the name you want to use is available. During the search, the RJSC returns similar names to your search term, so you can be certain your name is as unique as possible.
You have three primary options for the legal structure for your business in sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation (or company). In rare circumstances, you also may choose a co-operative or a society as a legal structure.
The federal government has advice on helping you pick a business structure that makes sense for you.
The RJSC webpage has multiple links available to help you start the process of registering your business. Click the link that corresponds to the legal business structure you want to use.
The page that opens from the link will explain all the information you need to register your business online.
Licences: Use Nova Scotia’s Online Service webpage to find any licences, permits, or applications that you need to operate your particular type of business.
Regulations: Depending on the type of business you are starting, you may need to adhere to multiple laws and regulations. You can search the Nova Scotia public statutes for more information. You may want to hire an attorney to help you understand these regulations.
Taxes: Paying taxes is an important part of keeping your business operating. Access Nova Scotia has a few different guides that help you understand your tax obligations at both the provincial and federal level.
Insurance: Although the provincial government does not require you to purchase business insurance in Nova Scotia, having insurance protects your financial investment in the business.
You must renew your business registration on an annual basis, paying registration fees each year. You must renew within 12 months from the date you originally registered the business.
You can complete the renewal registration form online, and you can make your payment online. The renewal process you must follow and the fees you must pay depend on the type of business legal structure you are using.