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.
Virtual meetings during the pandemic
Organizations can provide meeting notices, conduct meetings and hold votes using digital technology, if their bylaws do not prohibit it.
If organizations want to meet and vote in person, or if their bylaws already allow for online meeting and voting, no changes are required.
If organizations want to meet and vote electronically, but their bylaws prohibit such actions, the bylaws need to be adjusted.
When to form a society
Five or more people can form a society for purposes such as:
- social activities
You cannot form a society to carry out trade or business.
- buy, sell and own property, including land
- enter into contracts
- sue others
- be sued
- issue shares
- declare dividends for members
- distribute property among the members during the lifetime of the society
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:
‘Smith Falls White Water Rafting Association’ is an example of a society name that contains all 3 elements.
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.
A descriptive element describes what the society does or what the society is.
In the example above, ‘White Water Rafting’ is the descriptive element.
All societies are required to have a legal element in their name.
In the example above, ‘Association’ is the legal element.
Accepted legal elements
The following legal elements are permitted:
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.
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
PDF form issues
Fillable PDF forms do not open properly on some mobile devices and web browsers. To fill in and save the form:
- Save the PDF form to your computer – click or right-click the link and download the form.
- Open the PDF form with Adobe Reader. Fill it in and save it.
- Application to Form a Society (PDF, 176 KB)
- Society Bylaws (PDF, 73 KB)
- Notice of Address for Societies (PDF, 151 KB)
- Notice of Directors for a Society (PDF, 102 KB)
- Service Request (PDF, 178 KB)
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
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. You will receive an email when your federal business number is issued.
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