Do this before you register your Business Name!

Have you ever gotten all dressed up for a party or event, only to show up and someone was wearing the EXACT same outfit as you?

No? Well, it does sound like something from a sitcom. But this type of embarrassing event CAN happen for your business!

As an entrepreneur, your first faux pas might not be clothing-related. But it can be just as awkward to enter the marketplace with a similar business name as another, unrelated business — or worse, a competitor!

That’s why before you register your business name, it’s crucial that you take some time to see if someone else is using a similar or matching name.

In most cases, you may not even be able to register your proposed business name if it infringes on an existing trademark.

So how do you make sure that the name you’ve chosen is unique enough to help you stand out? Let’s find out!

Google it.

The fastest way to look for other businesses with a similar name to yours is by searching online.

You can also see if someone is using a website name that might make it confusing for your clients to tell you apart.

While you are searching online, it’s also a good idea to see if your proposed name may have a different meaning in different contexts. For instance, the acronym for your business “Shiny Night Lights” might share the spotlight with “Saturday Night Live”.

That said, this is only a quick first step. Next, we’ll review how to perform an official search using government services to get complete and absolute information on registered business names that could give you a reason to consider changing yours.

Check Canada’s business registries.

This is a simple and free service offered at the federal level which allows you to quickly search active and inactive business names.

Please note: This service allows you to get information on businesses from the official registries of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan and from Corporations Canada’s data. It may not provide comprehensive results for all provinces and territories.

To perform this search, please visit: https://beta.canadasbusinessregistries.ca/search

Search the Public Record.

Entrepreneurs can verify whether their proposed name has been registered or incorporated by conducting corporate name and unincorporated business name and limited partnership (BNLP) searches of the Ontario public record.

The body that provides search services (and maintains the records) is called the Central Production and Verification Services Branch (CPVSB).

Please note: The CPVSB does not provide information about trademarks.

To submit a search request with the CPVSB, you can visit:


You will be charged a fee for each search that you do. As part of the search, you will be able to select one of four reports containing information about the business name you searched for. If the report you selected cannot be generated based on the data in the database then a report substitution will occur. See the chart below for report costs and possible report substitutions.


Report Name

Report Fee (Pre-Authorize amount)

Possible Substitution

Substituted Report Fee

Detailed Business Names Report


Statement of No Match Found


Certified Detailed Business Names Report


Statement of No Match Found


Statement of No Match Found


Detailed Business Names Report


Certificate of Non-Registration


Detailed Business Names Report


What about trademarks?

There is an alternative to the Public Record search we just mentioned: the Newly Upgraded Automated Name Search (NUANS).

NUANS is a Canada-wide corporate, business name and trademark registry. A NUANS search report will display corporations, business names AND trademarks, which are similar to your proposed name.

A NUANS report may be obtained from the NUANS website here: https://www.nuans.com/

You will need a NUANS report for requests such as:

  • Requesting a corporate name pre-approval
  • Reviving a corporation
  • Amending the articles of your corporation
  • Amalgamating two or more corporations
  • Continuing from another jurisdiction

Each report costs $13.80.


Choosing the right name for your business is not only important to your brand, but the wrong one can have legal ramifications as well.

Make sure you confirm your name is appropriate and allowed. And now that you know how to search for it, you can do exactly that!

*The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Information is valid only as of the date of publication. Please always consult the relevant government websites for the latest information, requirements, and links.

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