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WHAT IS A NUANS?                                                                                                                                       ORDER A NUANS                             acronym for NEWLY UPDATED AUTOMATED NAME SEARCH, a NUANS is comprised of over 3 million business names and trademarks across Canada.  The NUANS is mandatory in most jurisdictions and must accompany the Articles at the time of incorporation (or the nuans report number if incorporating electronically)  The NUANS compares the proposed name with those on the database and results in a 6 page report listing the closest and most similar existing and proposed names and trademarks.

Incorporating a new Ontario Incorporation (both profit and non-profit) A NUANS is required when:

  • Nova Scotia, which is ruled on by the Registry of Joint Stocks. This can be done ahead of time
  • New Brunswick,together with a letter of opinion from the Search House
  • Prince Edward Island 
  • Alberta
  • A new Federal (Canada)Corporation
  • Changing a corporate name by filing Articles of Amendment
  • If a corporation is amalgamating with another corporation(s) and will operate under a new name.
  • A Foreign Corporation (outside of Canada) that files an Extra-Provincial License Application in Ontario.
  • A domestic Corporation that wishes to file Articles of Continuance into Ontario.
a NUANS is NOT required for a sole proprietorship or Partnership. HOWEVER a NUANS is highly advisable:
  • An existing business with a similar name can make you change your name
  • An existing business with a similar name can sue you for potential damages to to the name similarity!
  • Loss of business and name association (and a lot of hard work) will result if you need to find a new name

 Preliminary Searches (Pre-checks)

Preliminary Searches are highly recommended in order to determine, before incurring the cost of a NUANS, whether there are any obvious conflicts with the proposed name.  At McHines, we search your proposed name in a variety of ways, including differences in spelling and phonetics. Depending on your preference, we can send you the results by email, or over the phone while you wait.

What's in a Name?-- A Corporate name should consist of three elements; the "distinctive" element which should set the corporate name apart from others; the "descriptive" element which describes the type of business and; the "legal" element (Limited, LTD., Corporation, Corp., Incorporation, Inc.) which identifies the company as a corporation.  With all those Names in the database, finding a name that is distinctive and not in conflict with an existing name is increasingly more difficult. 

WHAT MAKES A NAME DISTINCTIVE?  A surname is not distinctive by it's own, but a surname with a first name or multiple initials is. (E.g. JOHAL CONSULTING SERVICES INC. vs RANJIT JOHAL CONSULTING SERVICES INC.) Two people involved in a Corporation? Try combining the two names: WONGSMITH CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS INC. If using names is not preferable or possible, try coining words relating to your business (BUILDAWEB ONLINE CREATIONS INC , MOWSGRASS LANDSCAPING LTD., DECKUP PATIOS LIMITED)  Stay away from initials or commonly used words like Tech, Teck, Tek, Tec, Web, etc. Have fun with it~ brainstorm, put everything on the table~ ask for opinions and ideas, then pare down the ideas until the right one remains!

Naming the Corporation

  • A Corporate name should be one that is memorable, stands out from competitors, is distinctive and not misleading or confusing.
  • The name should fit well with the product or service and will help to build the business image
  • Try to tie in a visual element with the name so that when prospective clients see that element, they will think of this company!
  • It should be easy to remember AND easy to spell
  • Keep it short
  • Choose a name that, at least part of, can be used for your Website and social media

When choosing a 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.
  • 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. Federal and Eastern Provinces approve the corporate names but, in Ontario, it is the responsibility of the incorporator(s) to ensure that the name conforms with the Acts and Regulations. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of your corporation

Ordering a NUANS (Newly Updated Automated Name Search) Name Search

Step 1--Provide up to 3 Names in order of Preference.  Let us know if you'll be operating as a Provincial or Federal Corporation and and what the general business of the corporation will be. 

Step 2--When requested, we'll conduct the "Preliminary Search" on your Name Choices to determine if there are any obvious conflicts or similar names already in existence.  This preliminary search will be emailed to you with our observations for your review and instructions

Step 3--After you've reviewed the Preliminary, let us know if you'd like to proceed with a full NUANS.  The report is usually ready within 2 hours, which we'll take a look at, indicate any other entities of concern that may appear and then email it to you.  The NUANS is valid for 90 days.

Preliminary Searches--Preliminary Searches are manual searches of the NUANS database, which can sometimes be up to two weeks behind.  Even if a Preliminary search shows no potential conflicts, this is not a guarantee that the name will be available.  Only the full NUANS, with its comprehensive and recently updated database, will give the best indication of a names availability.


NUANS Name Search