In Canada the governments in all of the provinces and territories require some form of name search report prior to incorporating a company and in many Canadian jurisdictions before you register a business name, partnership or sole proprietorship.
A preliminary name check is done by someone who wants to register a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership or business name prior to ordering a Nuans name search or similar report. Performing a preliminary name search prior to ordering a full name search helps to let you know if there is a chance the name is clear. It can save you money having this done.
Prior to registering your business, the appropriate government office handling name clearances will review the name search to make sure there are no names on the report which could be considered a problem. The government in the federal jurisdiction will refuse to register a name that sounds the same as a name that is on record.
When you order a Nuans Name Search or name search report with a search house normally the search house will do a preliminary name search as part of the service. You should ask this in advance or confirm this on the website of the search house. You should not have to pay for both a preliminary and a full name search separately. The only time a preliminary name search should be paid for separately is if you are registering a business name, proprietorship or partnership and the province or territory in which you register does not require a full name search. More about that below.
Having a Nuans name search in hand does not mean your name is going to be accepted. You should never receive a full Nuans name search report or similar name search without first having a preliminary name search performed. If the search house says this is not part of its service then you should look for another one. Any search house can order a Nuans name search but a qualified search house will pre-check the name for you to make sure you have a better chance of having your name accepted by the particular Canadian government without charging you an additional fee.
Look at it this way. A person wants to register a business called Morgan Cement Services Incorporated. The search company tells the person that there is no exact match because they do not have a policy of pre-checking names. There is actually a company registered called Morgan Cement Services Ltd. This person decides to register his business called Morgan Cement Services Incorporated and the owner of Morgan Cement Services Ltd. sees his flyers in the neighbourhood. Mr. Morgan of Morgan Cement Services Ltd. has had his business for many years and has built up a great reputation. Mr. Morgans reputation and longevity in the business gives him the ability to go court and request the court to get this person to change the name of his corporation. If you consider it, it would not be in your best interest either to have a name that is similar to another registered name.
The search house will provide the Nuans name search report or similar name search report to you by email and you should take some time to review the report to ensure for yourself that the name you wish to use is not too similar to another name already registered.
You can incorporate a company in Ontario that is different in any way. Considering the above example, the only difference is the ending of the name. Therefore it would be accepted. On the other hand if you were dealing with the federal government it would never be accepted for registration.
In Ontario and Alberta and possibly in other Canadian jurisdictions, you can register a business name, sole proprietorship or partnership without providing a Nuans name search report. This means the government will not be reviewing the name prior to registration and therefore the onus is on you to ensure you have a name different from others. In fact in Alberta and Ontario you can register a business name exactly the same as another business name.
In a situation such as this you would want to purchase a preliminary name search. To conclude, in a case where you are registering a partnership, business name or sole proprietorship and a name search is not necessary you should purchase a preliminary name search. As a matter of fact, a lot of searches houses will check your name for free prior to registering a business name or a sole proprietorship or a partnership. If you are unclear about the website you are dealing with contact them. I am sure they would be glad to advise what their policy is.
Resources for Canadian Business Owners provides information about legal and government services for Canadian businesses as well as further information about obtaining a Nuans Name Search Reports
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