Guide to Corporate and Business Name Rules
This guide is intended to inform and assist persons wishing to register a corporate or business name in Prince Edward Island. Although this guide is intended to help you select an acceptable name and have it approved, the information is general in nature and the approval of any name is at the discretion of the Director of Corporations.
Various Acts and Regulations in Prince Edward Island deal with name requirements for corporate and business names (See Business Corporations Act, Partnership Act, Limited Partnerships Act, Co-operative Associations Act, Credit Unions Act and Companies Act). Copies of Prince Edward Island legislation are available online.
Generally, names must be distinctive, descriptive and use legal elements appropriately. Names also cannot be too similar to those already registered or use certain misleading or prohibited words.
If you are unsure about the name registration requirements, it is recommended that you seek legal advice before submitting a name request.
You may also wish to search the following free databases to see if there are any conflicting or similar names to your proposed name:
Reserving a Name
If you intend to register a corporate or business name in Prince Edward Island, you must first submit a name approval request to reserve the proposed name. Reserving a name requires you to do the following:
- Complete the name approval request in the Online Corporate and Business Names Registry. This reserves the name for you but does not approve it for use.
- Submit the non-refundable payment to search and reserve the name. Payments must be made online when submitting your name reservation.
- The Registry Office will review your name (Typically, within 5 business days). You will receive an email if the name is approved. Registry Office staff will call or email if they have any questions. If the name is not approved you will receive an email with information on how to contact the Registry Office.
What if I want a Numbered Name?
If you want your business to have a numbered name (e.g., 1234567 P.E.I. Inc.), you must complete the approval request online and submit the applicable payment. The Registry Office will then assign a number and email this information to you.
Why is a Search Required?
The Registry Office performs a search to help ensure that proposed names are not too similar to those already registered. A name that conflicts or is liable to be confused with the registered name of a corporation or business in Prince Edward Island will not be registered unless the registered corporation or business name owner consents in writing to the use of the name.
While it may be frustrating to have a proposed name rejected for registration, it is generally to your advantage to determine if your proposed name is too similar to a name already in use.
Factors to Consider
The Registry Office considers many factors when deciding whether a proposed name will be registered. These factors include:
A name may be rejected if it is not sufficiently distinctive (e.g., if it is too general).
Business names are generally comprised of two separate elements:
- The Distinctive element is the term which identifies and distinguishes your business from another business (e.g., John’s).
- The Descriptive element describes the type of business that you propose to carry on (e.g., Mussel Farm).
A proposed name may also be rejected it if only describes the nature of the business without a distinctive element.
e.g. Mussel Farm (non-distinctive name) / John’s Mussel Farm (distinctive name)
There are varying degrees of distinctiveness in names, some being highly distinctive and others very weak. If your proposed distinctive element is weak (e.g., a common name or term) you should consider using a strong descriptive element.
Corporate names must also include a Legal element which indicates the status of the entity as a corporation. The word or expression “Limited”, “Limitée”, “Incorporated”, “Incorporée”, “Corporation” or the corresponding abbreviation “Ltd.”, “Ltée”, “Inc.” or “Corp.” must form part of and be at the end of a corporation’s name.
Sole proprietorship and partnership names do not have a legal element in their name.
Certain words are prohibited from being used, including:
- “Amalgamated” unless a corporation is an amalgamated corporation resulting from the amalgamation of two or more corporations;
- “Anne of Green Gables”, or any variation, unless the Anne Licensing Authority consents in writing to the use of the name;
- “Co-operative” unless the Registrar referred to in the Co-operative Associations Act, consents in writing to the use of the name; or
- “Credit Union” or “caisse populaire” unless the Registrar appointed under the Credit Unions Act, consents in writing to the use of the name.
A name will not be approved if it suggests a connection with the Crown, members of the Royal Family, the Government of Canada, Prince Edward Island or another province or territory, or the governing authority of any city, town or other municipality, unless the appropriate government department or agency consents in writing to the use of the name.
University or College
A name cannot suggest a connection with a university, college or technical institute unless a written consent is received from the appropriate university, college or technical institute.
Names Indicating the Practice of a Profession or Occupation
If a name suggests the practice of a profession or occupation that is regulated or established by a statute, the registration must be accompanied by a written consent from the appropriate professional or occupational association.
If your business will have activities of a financial nature, the name cannot suggest carrying on business of a bank, loan company, insurance company, trust company, financial intermediary, stock exchange or other financial institution, unless the appropriate federal or provincial regulator consents in writing to the use of the name.
Obscene or Otherwise Objectionable
A name cannot include a word or expression that is obscene or otherwise objectionable in the public interest.
A name cannot misdescribe the type of business, goods or services of the business (e.g., John’s Mussel Farm – but the nature of the business is aerospace design).
English and French Names
A business may have an English or a French name. If a corporation intends to have a combined English and French name it must have “Inc.” at the end of the name.
Personal Name - Sole Proprietorship
You can operate a sole proprietorship without registering a business name only if it is operated under your own name. If a prefix or suffix of any kind is added to your own name to create the business name, you are required to register your business under the Partnership Act.
Co-operative associations must include the word “Co-operative”, “Co-opérative” or “Coopérative”, as part of the name, and “Limited”, “Ltd.”, “Limitée” or “Ltée.” as the last word in the name.
Any Prince Edward Island limited partnership must have the words “Limited Partnership” in the name. In addition, the surname or distinctive part of the corporate name of a limited partner cannot appear in the firm name of the limited partnership unless it is also the surname or a distinctive part of the corporate name of one of the general partners.
Who can I contact for more information?
Corporate and Business Names Registry
Department of Justice and Public Safety
Consumer, Corporate and Financial Services Division
4th Floor Shaw Building South
Telephone: (902) 368-4550
Fax: (902) 368-5283