Prince Edward Island has a friendly environment for those looking to start a business. The PEI economy shows impressive growth in a variety of sectors.
Even though this is Canada’s most rural and smallest province, it provides a variety of opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Regardless of the type of business you would like to start, it’s important to closely follow any regulations that the provincial Prince Edward Island government requires.
In this guide on registering a business in PEI, we cover all the information you need to know and provide step-by-step instructions on how to do it.
Does Prince Edward Island Require You to Register a New Business?
As a general rule, smaller businesses with simple legal structures do not need to register. The larger your business, the more likely you will have a complex legal operational structure, and the more likely you must register.
If you are operating a sole proprietorship, which involves one person as owner, you do not have to register if you are using your name as the name of the business. If you are using a name other than your name as the business name for the sole proprietorship, you must register.
Other common types of legal operational structures for businesses in PEI – partnership, corporation, or co-operative – require registration with the provincial government.
Advantages of Registering a Business in Prince Edward Island
Some of the benefits of registering your business in PEI – beyond allowing your business to operate legally in the province – include the following.
How Soon Should You Register Your New Prince Edward Island Business?
Prince Edward Island does not have a due date by which you have to register your business with the provincial government.
However, you do need to have your registration process completed and approved before you can take advantage of the benefits of registering. In other words, if you want to begin seeking a Small Business Investment Grant, you must have a completed registration in hand.
The PEI provincial government does not specify how long it may take to verify your registration. However, third-party companies that help with registration estimate that it could take up to 10 business days to receive a completed registration.
Plan ahead so you can start the registration well before you need to have it completed. Remember that if you make a mistake in the registration process, you may have to re-submit items, which could cause significant delays.
Do You Need to Re-Register Your Business in PEI?
If you have an established business in Prince Edward Island, the provincial government has a new registry system that all businesses must use when they register in PEI. If you registered previously under the old system, you must register again under the new system.
Businesses have until mid-2023 to re-register with the province through the Online Corporate Business Names Registry.
(Read our plain English guide to the PEI Business Registry.)
How Much is the Cost to Register My PEI Business?
All types of businesses in PEI that must register first need a NUANS name search report. This report, which is valid for 90 days, costs $40. This search verifies that the name you want to use is legal to use in Prince Edward Island.
Understand that the other fees you must pay could differ from those listed here. As the PEI business registration process undergoes changes through the new Online Corporate Business Names Registry, the fees listed here may change, for example. If you ever are unsure about what to do, consult an attorney.
Sole proprietorships and partnerships must pay a $90 fee for the registration form that locks in the business name you want to use and that officially registers the business.
With the NUANS search added in, your cost starts at $130 for registering these types of business in Prince Edward Island yourself. It could go higher if you need to publish your name publicly, which costs $15. If you choose to register through a third-party company that helps walk you through the process, it could cost quite a bit more, too, because of the company’s fees.
Remember, if you choose to operate a sole proprietorship, and if you will use your own name as the name of the business, you do not need to register.
For incorporating your company or for incorporating a co-operative, your total fee is $305. This includes a $250 fee to incorporate, the $40 fee we mentioned earlier for the NUANS report, and $15 for the publication of your business name.
Additionally, corporations must file an annual report with the provincial PEI government that costs $30 to process.
Information Needed to Register a PEI Business
Registering your Prince Edward Island business requires you to submit information including:
How Do I Register My Prince Edward Island Business?
Multiple paid services are available to help you register your business in Prince Edward Island. These services will charge you fees for their work. The fees typically start at about $50, but they could be quite a bit higher, depending on the services you need.
Third-party companies you may want to consider that can help you register your business in PEI include:
You can contact the Consumer, Corporate, and Insurance Division to learn more about your options for filing your business registration by email, mail, or in person.
Business Name Registration Lookup in Prince Edward Island - How to Choose a Name for Your Business in PEI
The provincial Prince Edward Island government has a guide to help you select the best possible business name, as well as links to federal databases that contain corporate names and trademarks.
The original PEI business names registry and the new PEI business names registry can help you determine whether your desired name is available. You also can register your name through those names registry links.
Some of the key aspects of selecting a legal name include:
When you are ready to search for business names already in use in PEI, you can find companies that can help you with the NUANS search in Prince Edward Island. You also can seek help from an attorney.
Once you submit your desired name, the Registry Office says it may take up to five business days to provide an answer regarding whether your business name is available and legal in PEI.
Registration Process in Prince Edward Island
Once you have your NUANS report in hand, the PEI government does not provide guidance on how long the registration process may take to complete or how long before you receive an answer on whether the government accepted your registration.
Third-party companies that you can hire to help you with the registration process advertise that the process to complete the registration can take anywhere from one to 10 business days, depending on the services you need.
When preparing to register your business in PEI, you will follow steps based on the legal organizational structure you chose.
You have a couple of options when registering your business as a partnership in Prince Edward Island.
In Prince Edward Island, you can either incorporate a company or a co-operative.
With a corporation, the business’ finances and liability exist separately from the personal finances and liability of the owner or owners. Generally, those who own the corporation (or those who hold shares in the corporation) cannot be personally liable for obligations of the corporation.
The co-operative is an organization where a group of people own it with the goal of satisfying common needs, often through combining available resources. All owners of the co-operative have a single vote regarding matters of the co-operative, giving all owners equal power.
In Prince Edward Island, co-operatives are formed under the Co-Operative Associations Act.
4 Steps to Register a Business in Prince Edward Island
Here are the basic steps required to register your business with the PEI provincial government (if you need to register). Although you can do the registration work yourself, you may want to hire an attorney to walk you through the process of registering your business, just to make sure no errors occur.
Search the PEI Corporate and Business Names Registry to see whether your desired name is unofficially available. Then perform a NUANS search in PEI to verify to receive a report that the name you want to use is legal to use and is available in the province.
You have four different primary options for selecting the legal structure for the business. Each of these options have a few additional choices to help you perfectly match the type of business you want to operate.
These options have different advantages and disadvantages to consider with each legal structure. Again, if you are unsure about the best way to go, an attorney can give you advice.
You have the ability to perform the entire registration process online through the PEI provincial website. You also could reach out to the Consumer, Corporate, and Insurance Division of the PEI provincial government by phone or email to learn about options for registering by mail, email, or in person.
You may need to collect certain licences and permits to be able to operate your business in a legal fashion in Prince Edward Island. BizPaL is the best place to find information. The PEI provincial government has additional information on obtaining the permits.
Additionally, you should seek insurance to protect your business property and to provide liability protection for you and your business.