How to Start a Small Business in Canada as a Non-resident

Welcome to Canada – the land of human rights, gender equality and lots of opportunities! Canada is considered to be one of the best countries to live in. It has ranked number one for its quality of life, and based on the 2019 Best Countries Report, Canada took the winning score on health care, public education, safety, and a solid job market. So there’s no doubt that you would want to live, and even start a small business in Canada; even as a non-resident. If you are a Canadian citizen, the process is the same as anywhere else. But if you are a non-resident, there are a few things to consider before starting a small business in Canada.

Already have an established business in another country?

The process of expanding your already-established-business into the Canadian market, is actually a lot easier than you may think. All you have to do is register your new business in one of the provinces, then register for extra-provincial incorporation. Keep in mind that each province has its own required procedures. If you want to expand your business in more than one province, then you have to register for each province separately.

Looking to start a completely new business in Canada?

There are several ways you can open up a new business in Canada as a non-resident, who does not already have an established business:

Want to live in Canada and become a citizen? Immigrate first

If you want to live in Canada AND start a business, you can apply for business immigration. Based on the information provided on Citizenship and Immigration Canada, there are two types of business immigration options you can apply for: Start-up visas for entrepreneurs and Self-employed persons. If you choose the self-employed person route, you must either have relevant experience in cultural activities or athletics and be able to contribute in those areas or experience in farm management. You must also be able to read, speak, write and understand either English or French (or both!) fluently.

Don’t want to live in Canada or become a citizen?

Good news! You can still start a small business in Canada even if you choose not to immigrate or become a Canadian citizen. But keep in mind that each province has its own rules and regulations of who can or cannot start a certain type of businesses. For example, British Columbia has flexible rules regarding non-residents wanting to start a small business. In order to start a small business in B.C., all you need to have is a physical address for the business and a viable work permit.

The other option is to form a partnership or corporation with a Canadian citizen or business. If you have fewer than four directors on board, at least one has to be Canadian. You then need to register your business in the business that you want to operate. If you decide to go corporate, you must choose a corporate name for your business. The name has to identify the corporation, the activities of the corporation, or include a legal element such as Co., Ltd., or Inc. The next thing to do is to prepare documents for incorporation. They are as follows:

  • The article that states the rules that will govern the rules and regulations
  • The notice of offices to inform the government of your office registration
  • Notice of Directors

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, you have the option of opening up a small business in Canada as a non-resident. If you want to become a Canadian citizen while starting a business, you should first immigrate to Canada. But if you don’t want to become a citizen or immigrate, you can form a partnership or incorporation with a Canadian citizen or business. No matter which path you decide to take, we are here to support you in your business success. Check out your eligibility to see if you qualify for a small business loan!