Overview

A society is an independent legal entity, a corporate 'person' that exists separate and apart from its members. Because of this, the members cannot be held personally responsible for the debts of the society.

Societies are similar to non-profit companies, and must direct any profits back into fulfilling the objectives of the organization. You should get legal advice if you are not sure whether a society or non-profit company is best for your group's purposes.

'If your society plans to register as a charity under the Income Tax Act, you need to make sure the society's objectives or purposes meet Canada Revenue Agency requirements.

For more information, see the Societies Act.

When to form a society

Five or more people can form a society for purposes such as:

  • social activities
  • recreation
  • culture
  • charity

You cannot form a society to carry out trade or business.

Societies can:

  • buy, sell and own property, including land
  • enter into contracts
  • sue others
  • be sued

Societies cannot

  • issue shares
  • declare dividends for members
  • distribute property among the members during the lifetime of the society

Cost

There is a $50 incorporation fee. Make your cheque payable to “Government of Alberta.” Do not send a credit card number in the mail.

How to apply

Step 1. Choose a name

A society’s name consists of 3 elements:

  • distinctive
  • descriptive
  • legal

‘Smith Falls White Water Rafting Association’ is an example of a society name that contains all 3 elements.

Distinctive element

A distinctive element is a unique word or location that makes your society’s name different from others.

In the example above, ‘Smith Falls’ is the distinctive element.

Descriptive element

A descriptive element describes what the society does or what the society is.

In the example above, ‘White Water Rafting’ is the descriptive element.

Legal element

All societies are required to have a legal element at the end of their name.

In the example above, ‘Association’ is the legal element.

Accepted legal elements

The following legal elements are permitted:

  • Society
  • Association
  • Club
  • Fellowship
  • Guild
  • Foundation
  • Institute
  • League
  • Committee
  • Council
  • Board
  • Centre
  • Bureau

Your society can choose to have a number name, (for example: '55667789 Alberta Society'). The number will be assigned by the Registrar of Corporations.

Step 2. Get an Alberta NUANS report

You need to get an Alberta NUANS report and review it to make sure there is no other society with an identical name. Identically named societies are not allowed. You will also need to decide if your proposed name is too similar to other incorporated names.

Find a NUANS service provider

The NUANS report reserves the proposed name for 90 days. The original report must be submitted with the incorporation details and must be less than 91 days old.

If another society feels your corporation’s name is too similar to theirs, they can file an objection with the Registrar of Corporations. If the Registrar agrees with the objection, your society can be forced to change its name

Step 3. Fill out the forms

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Step 4. Submit the forms and information

Submit the following to Corporate Registry:

  • signed duplicates of your completed forms
  • NUANS report
  • the $50 incorporation fee, payable to ‘Government of Alberta’
    • do not send a credit card number in the mail

Corporate Registry
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:00 pm (Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)

Address:
South Counter
Mezzanine Floor, John E. Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 3W7

Mailing address:
Box 1007 Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4W6

After you apply

If your information meets requirements Corporate Registry will enter it into the computer system and mail you a Certificate of Incorporation.

Contact

To connect with Corporate Registry:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-427-7013