How to Select a Name for your Corporation

Congratulations on deciding to incorporate your company. Your first task will be to select a name. (You can also choose to incorporate as a numbered corporation.)

The old cliché is true, we only get one chance to make a first impression and your corporate name is no different.

Your corporate name is the first impression potential clients will have of your business.

To make a strong impression, you will want your name to be interesting, unique, easy for potential clients to remember, as well as easy to spell.

You will also need to make sure your name is in compliance with the Alberta Business Corporations Act (ABCA) and the Alberta Business Corporation Regulation (ABCR).

Elements of a Good Corporate Name

A good corporate name should contain three elements:

  1. A distinctive element
  2. A descriptive element
  3. A legal element

The Distinctive Element

From a marketing/branding perspective, the distinctive element of your corporate name is the most important element. Why is that?

It’s the distinctive element that distinguishes your business from competitors.

In the example: Suzie’s Homemade Sweets Inc., Suzie is considered the distinctive element. 

The Descriptive Element

The descriptive element of the name will describe the type of products and services your business offers.

In the example: Arnold’s Auto Repair Ltd., Auto Repair is the descriptive element.

We do not advise new businesses to incorporate a name that consists only of a distinctive or descriptive element.

  • Painter’s Inc. would not be permitted, as it lacks distinctiveness.
  • Wally Brother’s Inc. may sound like a good business name, however there is nothing in the name that provides any indication of the services the business offers – it lacks a descriptive element. 

Incorporating a name with only a distinctive or descriptive element could limit the success of your newly created business.

The Legal Element

The final element of a good corporate name is the legal element.

All incorporated names must end with a legal element.

There are many variations of the legal element that all communicate the same message about the corporation’s structure. These legal elements – or their French versions – are all acceptable and have the same intended meaning:

  • Limited or Ltd.
  • Incorporated or Inc.
  • Corporation or Corp.

These legal elements mean the liability of the shareholders is limited to the capital contributed to purchase the shares.

You are able to use whichever legal element you feel suits your corporation best.

Make Sure the Corporate Name you Want is Available

Alberta corporations are prohibited from using names that are identical or similar to any other name that has been incorporated in Alberta or across the country (federally). You must therefore determine the availability of your selected name before you incorporate.

  • A NUANS is a specialized search report that compares your selected name to a database of existing corporate names to determine availability in the province of Alberta.
  • If the NUANS determines that the name is available, the name will be reserved for you for a period of 90 days.
  • You must present the completed Alberta biased NUANS report at the time of incorporation, within this 90-day period.
  • You can complete a NUANS Search Request at any AMA centre.

Numbered Corporations

Occasionally an incorporator may decide the incorporated name is not an important aspect of the business. In this case, a numbered corporation is created.

Like named Alberta corporations, numbered Alberta corporations are also comprised of three elements:

  1. A numbered element – automatically generated by Alberta Corporate Registries – followed by
  2. The word Alberta, followed by
  3. The legal element of your choosing

For example: 2056486 Alberta Inc.

When you choose to incorporate as a numbered Alberta corporation, a NUANS report is not required.

We’re Here to Help

Remember, selecting a name for your company is one of the most important decisions you will make for you new business. Corporate names are highly regulated and the rules set out in the ABCA surrounding names incorporated in Alberta can be overwhelming.

Let us assist you in determining if a name or a certain element of a name is not recommended. Our professional certified registry agents will work with you and your schedule.

Choose how you’d like to contact us

Please note:

  • In order to use our Corporate Registry services, you must be a member in good standing with the AMA, CAA or AAA.
  • A certified registry agent may provide assistance, but please be advised that the role of the agent does not include the provisions of legal advice. AMA recommends that you consult a lawyer licensed to practice law in Alberta on all matters pertaining to the regulations of documents in the corporate registry.

Before you register your business, make sure you’ve got the proper paperwork filled in. Learn what is needed to set up your business or corporation:

Krista is an Online Content Specialist in Edmonton with AMA, a part-time freelance writer, budding editor, jewellery maker, health nut, baker, and believer that dark chocolate makes the world a better place.