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Choosing a Business Name


Coming up with a name is not only one of the first steps you must take in starting your business, but also one of the most important


Choosing A Name For Your Proprietorship or Partnership

  • You may not use the words "limited", "corporation" or "incorporated" or their respective abbreviations   Ltd., Corp., and Inc. if the business is not incorporated.
  • The name you choose for your Sole Proprietorship or Partnership  should be one that is memorable,  stands out from your competitors ,is distinctive and not misleading or confusing.
  • Your name should fit well with our product or service and help to build your business image
  • Try to tie in a visual element with your name so that when prospective clients see that element, they will think of you!
  • It should be easy to remember AND easy to spell
  • Keep it short
  • When choosing your name, keep in mind that the following words or expressions cannot be used:
  • Words or expressions, in any language, that are obscene or objectionable in nature.
  • Words that imply the business is a different type of organization. For example, you may not imply that  a sole proprietorship is a partnership. You may not use numbers or words that imply the business name  is a corporate number name if it is not incorporated.
  • The words "college", "institute" or "university" cannot be used without the written consent of the  Ministry of Education, if using the word implies the business is a post-secondary institution.
  • Words with restricted use under Federal or Provincial Laws.
  • Words that imply the business is associated with the Crown or the Government of Canada, any province of Canada or any municipal government may not be used without the written consent of the appropriate authority.
  • In Ontario, the following words are not allowed in your Business/Corporate name:
    • Co-op/Co-operative
    • RCMP
    • Parliament Hill
    • United Nations
    • Red Cross
    • Housing (unless appropriate consents obtained)
    • Association (unless appropriate consents obtained)
    • Engineer/Engineering (unless appropriate consents obtained)
    • College/University (unless appropriate consents obtained)
    • Bank, Architect, Lawyer, Dentis, Better Business Bureau (unless appropriate consents obtained)
  • Names of individuals may not be used unless they have or had a material interest in the business activity  and have given their written permission. If an individual is not living, and the name is used within 30 years  of the date of death, the written consent of the estate must be obtained.   It is your responsibility to make sure your business name does not contain any of the above words  or expressions unless proper consent has been obtained.
  • Business names must be registered in the Roman Alphabet (English,French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, etc.)   and may contain numerals.
  • The following marks may also be included in the name, but may not be used as the first character:   ! " # $ % & ' ( ) * + , - . / ; : > + < ? |[ ] ^
  • Business Names composed of characters from other alphabets must be translated and registered in a  language using the Roman alphabet.

A business name in a language other than one using the Roman alphabet may be used in advertising and signs, but the business name must also be displayed in a language using the Roman alphabet.  For example, a business that registers its name in English may have letterhead or signs in Chinese characters  as long as the English name is also displayed at the place of business.  Some jurisdictions pre-approve proposed business names but, in Ontario, it is the responsibility of the proprietor(s) to ensure that the name conforms with the Acts and Regulations.  Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of your business Note: For more information on business name registrations, visit the Service Ontario website at: