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Starting a business in Canada as a non Canadian can be quite hard especially when you are not an indigene. Are you a non-Canadian who has an established business in your home country and would like to start a business in Canada? Or are you a from another country and would like to start a company in Canada? Then this article is for you.

Starting a Canadian Business When You Already Own a Business

Expanding your own business into Canada for an already-established foreign business is straightforward: each province has its own registration procedures (and fees), But for the extra-provincial incorporation.

So, for example, if you as a non-Canadian, currently operate a corporation in China, and you want to open a business in Toronto, you need to register your business as an extra-provincial corporation in that province.

For extra-provincial incorporation, you will need an Agent for Service, an “individual, 18 years of age or older who is resident in Toronto, or a corporation having its registered office in Toronto”.

Note that the facts that Toronto is the province in this example, all the Canadian provinces and territories have similar requirements. To start a business in Canada, you will need to contact the provincial registry of the province you want to start business in and go through its required processes. If you wish to do business in more than one province, you will need to register your new business separately with each of the province. 

On the other hand, if you are not from Canada, want to start a company in Canada and do not already have an established business in your country of origin, there are several ways you can open your own business in Canada.

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Start a Business in Canada by Immigrating

First, if you desire to live in Canada, you could apply to come to Canada as a business immigrant. This is the best method that you will be able to both start a business in Canada and live here.

When you look through the information on immigration to Canada from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, you’ll see that there are two types of business immigrant: Start-up visa for that is for entrepreneurs and Self-employed persons. Starting from February 11, 2014, the new categories replaced the original Immigrant Investor and Federal Entrepreneur programs.

To migrate to Canada as a self-employed person you must have either:

  • Relevant knowledge the in cultural activities or athletics, and intend and be able to make a good contribution to the cultural or athletic life of the country, or
  • Experience in farm management, and intend and be able to buy and manage a farm that is in Canada. 

Other factors affecting your application to come to Canada as a self-employed person include your education, age, adaptability and language abilities; you must be able to listen, speak, read and write English or French proficiently to come to Canada.

Start a Business in Canada without Living in Canada

 If you do not immigrate to Canada and are not a Canadian citizen or a landed immigrant (has permanent resident status), you can still start a company in Canada. The important thing to understand is that the rules about who can and who can’t start certain types of businesses are determined by Canada’s individual provinces and are different from province to province (or territory).

For instance, currently, the province of British Columbia (B.C.) has the most flexible rules regarding non-resident businesses. In that province, anyone can start a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation whether they’re a Canadian citizen or not.

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To begin doing a business in B.C. you need to:

  • Have a legal physical address for your business (a post office box is not nice enough)
  • Possess the correct work permit from Citizenship and Immigration Canada
  • Submit an Investment Canada application for review (The Investment Canada Act states that “non-Canadians who acquire control of an existing Canadian business or who wish to establish a new unrelated Canadian business are subject to this Act, and they must submit either a Notification or an Application for Review.”)

Then you’re ready to follow the necessary steps before starting a business in Canada

If you want to start a business in any other province or territory, you will have to check on their particular requirements. If they do not allow non-Canadians to start the type of business you would like to start there, you might set up a partnership or a corporation with one or more Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.

Obviously, as a non-Canadian starting a business in Canada, if you are setting up a partnership with another person, that other person would have to be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant.

For corporations, as for the Canada Business Corporations Act,

“At least 25 per cent of the directors must be resident Canadians (if 25% of the directors is not a whole number round up to the nearest whole number). Where a corporation has less than four directors, at least one must be a resident Canadian (S. 118(3))”.

When you start a company in Canada, if that company is a partnership, you will need to register your partnership in the province or territory you are going to do business in. Contact the provincial registry of the province you want to do business in and go through its required procedure.‚Äč

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If the company you are starting is a corporation, you will first need to decide whether you are going to incorporate your business federally or provincially.

The Bottom Line if You Want to Start a Company in Canada

If you are a non-Canadian who wants to start a business in Canada and live in Canada, you will have to immigrate to Canada or find one or more Canadians to team up with. The only way you can stay in Canada permanently and do your business is if you immigrate down to Canada. 

I am a geography graduate and a graphic designer. Passionate about sharing ideas and tips online.

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