Setting up a “doing business as” (dba) name in British Columbia

First published on August 11, 2009

When we (my business partners and I) assumed ownership of Mugo Web, we decided to adopt the DIY approach for most of our corporate affairs. Since we had taken over a small-ish existing company, we didn’t have as much work to do to get everything in order, as compared to if we had set something up from scratch. However, we still want our customers to be paying for our website development work -– not for our lawyers’ per-email fees!

Our first order of business was to set up a “doing business as” name. The existing Canadian corporate entity that we took over had been operating under a long and relevant name to many existing clients. However, we needed to be able to move forward as “Mugo Web” while still keeping our old setup. In essence, setting up a dba name would allow us to officially operate as Mugo Web and also receive payments written to “Mugo Web”, without having to set up a new corporation, get another business number, and so on.

The process involved two simple steps.

First, we filled out the Name Approval Request Form available on the BC Ministry of Finance Corporate Registry site. Information required included applicant information, a description of the nature of the business, and our top three name choices. Along with a $30 application fee, we mailed the form to Victoria.

Three weeks later, we received notice of our name’s approval – our first choice was available! To complete our dba name process, we went to BC’s OneStop Business Registry website and registered a proprietorship under the name “Mugo Web”, owned by our existing Canadian corporation. This form was completed online, and required a $40 fee payable by credit card. We received instant confirmation of our registered proprietorship in PDF form, sent via e-mail. We forwarded that PDF to our bank account manager, and Mugo Web was officially born.

Mugo Web took $70 and an hour of research and filling out forms. It was well worth it!


18 Responses to “Setting up a “doing business as” (dba) name in British Columbia”

  1. Ankit says:

    I tried to register a DBA name but my application was denied saying this name was not valid. This must mean that no other business can use the names I applied for also.

    Can I use that name anyway putting aside any trademark or copyright issues? Are there any other implications to using an unapproved name?

    Reply from Peter: Sounds like a good question to ask Small Business BC or the Business Registry.

  2. Ankit says:

    Question: Do you sell products and services under Mugo Web? Did you have to re-register for gst/pst etc under the sole proprietorship or did your original corporation gst/pst still valid?

    Our original corporation’s GST registration is still valid (our services do not qualify under PST). However, that’s because we’re still operating as that corporation — we just added the ability to operate under another name.

  3. Kelowna says:

    Nice, thanks for the information – the government sites aren’t exactly clear on how to make this happen so it’s good to hear from someone who’s done it before.

  4. Mick says:

    When you applied for your Name Request did you fill out your personal name in the applicant section or did you use the limited company name?

    Reply from Peter: If there’s already another field for company name, I think I used my name for the applicant name. If you’re unsure, you can always call OneStop — they’re very helpful.

  5. Narinder gill says:

    If there are more than one shareholders, whose name to be used as applicant in name approval request?

    Reply from Peter: I think any of the owners can make the application (we have multiple owners). I’d suggest double-checking with OneStop BC, though; they’re quite responsive.

  6. J says:

    Good crap here. Most things can be done via OneStop. As fro the last post on Nov 27th, when registration is done for trade name or DBA (doing business as) in the form of a sole proprietorship, you will at some point be asked for owner info. That’s when u enter the name of the corp otherwise the name of the person registered as owner for the sole proprietorship will assume 100% liability regardless of whether s/he is a shareholder of the corp.

  7. Salt Spring says:

    Just to confirm – When doing your taxes, you only have to file for the previously existing corporation, right?
    Thank you.

    Reply from Peter: Yes :)

  8. jo danik says:

    Hi Peter,

    Set up a #d incorporated company. Want to just add "aka" so people will know the name..all is registered and approved. I also have a sole proprietorship # set up..which I may or may not use later. My accountant said this is fine. When going to the bank…they say no…when going to the Can. Corp. Registry..Im stopped o Q #2…and cant get any farther. any help?

    Reply from Peter: What is Q#2? If your dba is registered and approved, then the bank should just need some verification of the dba name.

  9. Nicole says:

    Hi Peter,

    If I register a sole proprietorship under my corporation, will I need to disclose the name of the corporation (in addition to the trade name) in client invoices and contracts for the sole proprietorship? In addition, do I need to disclose the name of the corporation in order to limit my liability when doing business under the trade name? Thanks.

    Reply from Peter: I am not an expert, but I have not found the need to disclose the legal name of the corporation on invoices. I do as a general practice disclose it fully on contracts.

  10. Marc says:

    Thanks for sharing! This is exactly the information I was looking for.

  11. Chan says:

    Hi Peter
    My wife and I have a holding company recently bought a restaurant. We are in the process of doing all the paperwork. Lawyer is too expensive for us. We choose to manage by ourselves. Do I own the name of the restaurant after I purchased? Do I need to register the restaurant name under the my incorporated company as DBA?

    Reply from Peter: Perhaps Small Business BC can point you in the right direction.

  12. brent says:

    Question: am I able to register a DBA name with LTD. or Inc. at the end of it?

    Reply from Peter: Unfortunately, I don’t know. However, when someone finds out the answer, please post a comment!

  13. Damian says:

    The BC Registry online site says that you can only use Ltd. or Inc. for a corporate name…not a DBA.

  14. amy says:

    I am trying to register the sole proprietorship but am getting the message:

    "Invalid Name Request type. Check your Results of Name Request letter to confirm this NR is for a Sole Proprietorship or General Partnership. Check the Help screen for more information."

    But I have a NR number which was emailed to me.

  15. Pamela says:

    Thanks so much for this clear advice! Much better than what’s available on the BC website. Also, it’s now all online and quick. I submitted my name request on Tuesday, got confirmation on Thursday, and received instant confirmation of the sole proprietor registration when I did that on Friday!

  16. Mainland says:

    When you file your taxes, do you file under your DBA or your proprietorship (or Incorporation)? If you already have an existing company but want to do a DBA, is all your tax information under the DBA or existing companies GST/PST/income tax? Do your Tax Numbers get transferred to the DBA if you file under your DBA?

    Reply from Peter: I file using the the corporation’s official name, not the DBA. All tax information is under the official name. The DBA doesn’t get a different tax number — it’s just an alias.

  17. Don says:

    Maybe a bit off topic but …
    I read on a BC gov website that receipts for supplies must indicate a company’s registered corporate name, even if the supplies were purchased for a DBA operating inside the corporation. Does this sound right?

    Also, an accountant told me supplies purchased for a corporation can be purchased using a personal credit card as long as the card is only used for the corporation. Does this also sound correct?

    Thank you!

    Reply from Peter: This is not advice, nor am I an accountant, but my business has plenty of receipts with just the DBA name. Also, we sometimes have business purchases on personal credit cards. Keeping it completely separate is more of an admin convenience. The bigger issue is for things like insurance — I wouldn’t want to rely on a personal credit card’s rental car insurance if I were renting a car for business, in case the insurance states that it only covers rentals for leisure purposes.

  18. Ann says:

    Can the organization’s business letterhead be in the name of the registered DBA?

    OR does it have to state the full legal name followed by DBA and stating name of the DBA?

    Can correspondence just be sent in the DBA name?

    What about the website, can it just be in the DBA name?

    Reply from Peter: I believe that you can do all of that in the DBA name alone if you’d like: business letterhead, correspondence, and website.

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