A business name does not have a legal existence in its own right. It is simply a name used by one or more persons to represent their business to the public. That means the sole proprietor or partners are personally responsible for the debts and obligations of the business.
Registering a business name does not grant any right of ownership of the name. It is simply proof that the name is being used by a particular business.
If you need help deciding if a sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation is the best form of business, we highly recommended you get legal advice.
Types of business names
There are 4 types of business names registered under the Partnership Act:
- trade name (sole proprietorship)
- limited partnership
- limited liability partnership
A trade name is used when:
- an individual does business under a name other than their own personal name
- a corporation does business under a name other than its legal name
A trade name is also known as a sole proprietorship.
A partnership is created when 2 or more individuals, or 2 or more corporations, do business together as partners. All partners share in the profits and the risks or debts of the business.
A limited partnership consists of one or more general partners, and one or more limited partners.
Each type of partner has different rights and responsibilities. For example, a general partner is usually liable for the debts of the business, while a limited partner is usually liable only for the amount they have contributed to the business.
Limited liability partnership
A limited liability partnership consists of partners in one or more eligible professions, such as accounting or law.
This type of partnership is similar to a regular partnership, except there is liability protection. A partner in a limited liability partnership is not generally liable for the negligence, wrongdoing, or misconduct of a partner, employee or agent.
Partners in a limited liability partnership may be individual practitioners or professional corporations.
Limited partnerships or limited liability partnerships based in other provinces must also register in Alberta when they do business here.
Service providers will charge a government fee and a service fee to register your business name. See the Registry agent product catalogue.
How to apply
Step 1: Choose a business name
Although there are few restrictions on a business name, you should choose your name carefully. Business names:
- don’t have to be unique; duplicate business names may exist
- however, if you choose a name that is the same as, or similar to, an existing business name, corporation name, or trademark, the owners could take your business to court; you may have to change your name or pay damages to the owners
- cannot use the words 'limited', 'incorporated' or 'corporation' at the end of the business name, since that would imply you are running a corporation
- cannot use the abbreviated forms of these words (such as Ltd., Inc., or Corp., or the French forms/abbreviations of those words)
- if you’re registering a limited liability partnership, will need to include 'limited liability partnership' or the abbreviation 'LLP' at the end of the name, or the French terms 'Société à Responsabilité Limitée' or 'SRL'
Step 2: Get a Business Name Report
This step is recommended, but not mandatory.
The report contains registered business, corporation and trademark names that are similar to your proposed business name.
The report is provided by authorized NUANS members.
Step 3: Fill out the forms
You can use the sample forms shown below to collect the required information or you can create your own forms.
Trade name/sole proprietorship
If you are registering a trade name or sole proprietorship, use the Declaration of Trade Name.
Other partnership types
If you are registering other partnership types, you can use one of the sample forms below or prepare your own form. If you prepare your own form, make sure it contains all of the required information.
Limited partnership (LP)
- Application for Alberta/Extra-Provincial Limited Partnership
- Special Authority to Execute a Registration
(optional) If your limited partnership home province is British Columbia, Manitoba or Saskatchewan and you want to do business in Alberta, use Alberta’s online extra-provincial registration to apply. There is no cost.
(optional) Apply directly for registration of your Alberta limited partnership in British Columbia, Manitoba or Saskatchewan. There is no cost for registration. You will also need to apply and pay for a name search and reservation.
Limited liability partnership (LLP)
- Application for Alberta/Extra-Provincial Limited Liability Partnership
- permission from the Alberta governing body of the profession (such as law, accounting)
- extra-provincial LLPs must also provide proof of active registration in their home jurisdiction, and copies of their original registration documents
- (optional) If your LLP home jurisdiction is in British Columbia, Manitoba, or Saskatchewan, there are special processes to register your business in Alberta. Contact your home jurisdiction registry office for more information.
- (optional) Register your Alberta LLP in BC
- (optional) Register your Alberta LLP in Manitoba
- (optional) Register your Alberta LLP in Saskatchewan
Fax or email these forms to Alberta Corporate Registry:
Email: [email protected]
We will send them to the other province for no-cost registration in that jurisdiction.
Step 4: Take your Alberta registration information to a service provider
Go to an authorized Corporate Registry service provider with:
- your business name information
- Business Name Report (if used)
- valid ID
- fee payment
If your information meets the requirements, it will be entered into the Corporate Registry and you will get a proof of filing. You will receive an email when your federal business number is issued, unless one has previously been assigned to you as an individual or corporation. In that case, you will use the business number you already have.
Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)