NUANS Report: When and Why Do You Need It?

Jan 29, 2018

What is a NUANS report? Who needs one? When and why?

An interesting set of questions for anyone planning to register a business in Canada. And something you’ll need to understand to determine whether it applies to your business or not.

We know that registering a business doesn’t always seem straightforward, as a quick scan of government resources will show you.

So what do you need to know about filing a NUANS report, and is this relevant to you? Let’s find out.

What Is a NUANS Report?

In brief, a NUANS Report is a name search document.

When you’re incorporating a business in Canada, unless you’re registering a Numbered Company, you need to pick a name to operate under.

The NUANS system is a way of checking for existing companies with similar names to yours. The report allows the relevant jurisdiction to assess and approve (or reject) your chosen name.

They’ll use a number of factors when deciding whether or not to give approval, which we’ll discuss later in this article.

The chosen name is set aside for you until you’ve completed incorporating your business – or until the time limit runs out (see below).

However, not everybody will need one of these reports when starting a business.

Who Needs One?

You’ll need a NUANS Name Reservation Report if you’re incorporating a business in Canada (at the federal level) or in any of the following jurisdictions:

  • Ontario
  • Alberta
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Prince Edward Island

Other jurisdictions use there own name search system. So if you’re incorporating in Quebec, for example, you’ll need to search the Quebec Government’s Enterprise Registry instead.

Should I Incorporate Federally or in My Province?

This is a question you’ll need to find out the answer to prior to ordering your NUANS Name Reservation Report, as the report needs to be specific to the jurisdiction you will be registering in.

As part of federal incorporation, you can sort out your permit to operate across multiple territories and provinces at the same time, if you wish. It’s also possible to register for a federal tax account and other accounts. For example, an import/export account.

However, if you only want to operate in one province, it may be easier to file specifically for that locale. The process is more straightforward and takes less time. But if you think you might bring your business to a new province in the future, it may make more sense

But with either of these options, you may still need to acquire licenses or permits from relevant provincial or territorial governments. These will depend on the nature of your business.

Are There Any Time Restrictions?

Yes. Once you’ve ordered your NUANS Name Reservation Report, you only have 90 days to incorporate your business.

Otherwise, you’ll need to purchase a new report to file with your Articles of Incorporation.

It’s a fairly good idea to have everything lined up for that deadline before filing the report, or you’ll have to redo it. Which wastes your precious time.

Finding some advice on the incorporation procedure sooner rather than later is a decent idea. Knowing how the road is laid out will help you sail through incorporation and you won’t have to worry too much about the 90-day time limit expiring.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

At Opstart, we charge a very reasonable $48 per NUANS report.

But even given the low cost, you might want to spend a little time using our preliminary search tool first.

This will give you an idea of available names, and flag overly similar competitors, before you commit to a formal search. And it costs absolutely nothing.

You won’t trigger the 90-day time limit by doing this. So you won’t have to worry about following through with a name that just won’t work. Or pay for multiple reports, which could rack up costs quite quickly.

Will I Definitely Be Allowed to Use My Chosen Name?

No. The NUANS system ‘reserves’ your chosen name for the 90-day window, but it does not mean that your name will be approved at the end of the day.

The approval process, and its length, varies by jurisdiction. However, there are a set of ‘hold-all’ rules that will apply in most cases.

You definitely can’t hold the same name as another business. But you also can’t pick a name that’s likely to confuse or mislead people into thinking you are another business.

Say that there’s already a company called FarmFresh, for example. There’s a high chance similar names like FarmFresher or FreshFarm might be rejected. New names must be distinctive enough to stand on their own.

Your business name may not contain anything obscene, or any of a set of restricted terms relating to the government and other authorities. It also can’t imply any form of government affiliation or involvement.

So long as the name is approved, you’ll have the exclusive use of the name. Other companies won’t be legally able to use it once you’ve obtained it.

What If My Business Doesn’t Need a NUANS Report?

Even if your business doesn’t need to file one of these reports, you’ll still have some paperwork to do with respect to choosing a name.

Regardless of whether you’re incorporating a business or starting another form of business, naming rules still apply. And it’s wise to pick a distinctive and memorable name in any case for the sake of your marketing.

If you’re going into business as a sole trader, or in a general partnership, try our enhanced business name search instead. We offer detailed business names reports, certified reports, and statements to confirm that no match has been found.

This tool can also be used to check for trading and operating names, as well as official business titles.

If you’ve got any other questions about starting up your new Canadian business, have a good read of our informative blog, or get in touch directly with us.



Free NUANS Preliminary Search
Free NUANS Preliminary Search
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