Running a business

Does My Business License Count in Canada? Doing Business in Other Provinces

If you choose federal incorporation for your business or nonprofit corporation, you can open a registered office location anywhere in Canada, and operate in more than one province or territory without changing your corporate name.

But what if you don’t want to incorporate federally, or you’re incorporated in one province or territory and want to do business in another? You can conduct business in other jurisdiction, even without federal incorporation, if you take the right steps. And once you register in certain provinces, their extra-provincial reciprocal agreements let you operate your business in multiple provinces.

Extra-Provincial Reciprocal Agreements

Generally, before you conduct business in a Canadian province or territory, you must register your corporation and get a business licence in Canada. Some provinces have extra-provincial registration agreements, making it easier for you to operate across provincial borders. These agreements go by different names. One such agreement, the New West Partnership Trade Agreement ( NWPTA ) between Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, creates Canada’s largest inter-provincial market. You can take advantage of the NWPTA for Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan now, and Manitoba becomes active in the agreement by Jan. 1, 2020.

How Does the NWPTA Work When Obtaining a Business Licence in Canada?

The NWPTA gives your company the opportunity to operate in any or all of the four provinces that are part of the agreement. Say you’re about to incorporate and register your business in your home province of Alberta. When you start the process, you answer the question of whether you want to be registered extra-provincially in British Columbia, in Saskatchewan, or in both provinces. If your answer is both, your home registry handles the incorporation and registration with the other province or provinces you choose. Alberta’s corporate registry sends updates periodically to the other extra-provincial registry or registries. The process works the same if your home province is British Columbia or Saskatchewan. Manitoba starts participating in the cross-registration process on Jan. 1, 2020.

What should you do if your business is already registered in your home province, and you want to branch out into one or more of the other provinces participating in the NWPTA? If you live in British Columbia or Saskatchewan, you should contact your province’s corporate registry service. If you live in Alberta, you should contact one of Alberta’s private registry agent network members.

How the NWPTA Benefits Incorporated Businesses

As you’re running your company, you look for ways to save money and increase efficiency, right? The NWPTA makes it less expensive to do business in one or more of the member provinces.

Operating your enterprise under the NWPTA includes benefits such as:

  • Removing redundant requirements for registering and reporting
  • Requiring that you file only one annual report in your province of incorporation
  • Eliminating all filing fees
  • Ensuring more secure access to the other provinces
  • The NWPTA’s streamlined and seamless registration process saves time and resources.

And if you’re interested in selling your company’s goods or services to governments participating in the NWPTA, the agreement sets low thresholds for mandatory open and nondiscriminatory bidding and procurement processes. Manitoba begins participating in procurement obligations as of Jan. 1, 2019. This provision of the NWPTA gives you a better chance of winning contracts throughout all four provinces.

Ontario and Quebec’s Reciprocal Agreement

The NWPTA might be Canada’s largest interprovincial business agreement, but it’s not the only one. A special reciprocal agreement between Ontario and Quebec allows you to incorporate your business in one province and do business in the other. Say you’re incorporated in Ontario and want to conduct your business in Quebec. You can do it without obtaining an extra-provincial licence. Just register your corporation in Quebec by filing a Declaration d’immatriculation within 60 days of doing business there. If you’re incorporated in Quebec and want to do business in Ontario, just register your corporation in Ontario .

Ontario goes one step further in encouraging you to start doing business there. If your business is incorporated in any other province or territory, or if you’re federally incorporated, you don’t need an extra-provincial business licence in Canada to operate in Ontario. But you do need to comply with the Corporations Information Act by filing an Initial Return/Notice of Change, Form 2 within 60 days after the date your corporation starts doing business in Ontario. It’s free to file the form, but depending on the type of business you run and the municipalities in which you want to operate, there may be additional requirements and fees. You can contact the Service Ontario Business Information Line to talk to an information officer and find out for sure.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick’s Reciprocal Agreement

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are two more provinces that make it easy for you to cross their borders to do business. If you’re incorporated and registered to operate your company in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, you can take advantage of their extra-provincial reciprocal agreement.

Under their dual-government agreement, if you incorporate your business in one province, you don’t have to register it in the other. But if your corporation is not based in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick requires you to register your business as an extra-provincial corporation. You must register within 30 days after you begin doing business there, provide an Atlantic-based New Upgraded Automated Name Search (NUANS), which is a Canada business permits and licenses search report, from a private sector firm, and pay the appropriate filing fee.

Provinces and Territories Without Reciprocal Agreements

Not every province and territory has moved to simplify the process of conducting cross-border business by establishing extra-provincial or extraterritorial agreements with their Canadian neighbours.

The jurisdictions without any reciprocal agreements are:

  • Prince Edward Island
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Nunavut
  • Northwest Territories
  • * Yukon

If you want to do business in Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) but you’re incorporated in another province or territory, P.E.I. requires that you register as an extra-provincial corporation. It may cost you between $250 and $1,500, depending on your type of business, and you must renew your registration each year. To qualify for the Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises (EDGE) program and other tax incentives in Newfoundland and Labrador, you have to register as an extra-provincial corporation there, too.

To do business in the territories outside of where you’re incorporated, Nunavut requires you to register as an extraterritorial corporation under the Business Corporations Act (BCA). For registration as an extraterritorial corporation in the Northwest Territories, you must submit materials to Corporate Registries, starting with a Northwest Territories Application for Name Search and Reservation form, unless you’re registering a numbered or federal company. And the Yukon government requires you to register as an extraterritorial corporation under Part 21 of the Yukon Business Corporations Act. You can begin the process by submitting the Application for Name Reservation, along with the appropriate fee.

Only you can decide whether to pursue business opportunities across provincial and territorial boundaries. The good news is that there are numerous opportunities for business growth, development, and benefits at tax time, if you choose to venture out beyond your home base.

Are you planning to conduct business in more than one province or territory? You might need help keeping track of your income and expenses while you’re travelling. Join over 5.6 million QuickBooks businesses today!

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