How to set up a business in Canada

How to set up a business in Canada
Updated 2019-05-02 09:37

To start a business in Canada as an expatriate, you must determine whether you are licensed to own and operate a business in the country. You should also check your immigration status with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship of Canada.

You also need to know how well your qualifications and skills will be recognized in Canada and what are the regulations for your industry. Indeed, it may be necessary to obtain a permit or certification before you can start. To do this, you can consult the licensing Search tool of the government of Canada Business Network service.

Several organizations offer programs and support services to entrepreneurs. You will find a list of these organizations classified by province on the Canada Business Network website. You can also contact the Institution at 1 (888) 576 4444.

Starting a business in Canada: What are the formalities?

It is rather simple and quick to start a business in Canada, but you may need to familiarize yourself with the following terms and data: business licenses, health and safety regulations, environmental and employee protection regulations, and wages and working conditions standards.

Also choose the type of structure you want for your business: individual, stock company or corporation. Register it with provincial and federal authorities, including the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Depending on your province of registration, you may have to pay fees. You can then open a GST/HST tax account - or GST/QST if you are in Quebec - an employer's account - if you have employees -, a corporation tax account or an import and export account.

Here is a list of websites that will give you an overview of the steps to take according to your province:

Visas for business Startup in Canada

Canada is one of the first countries in the world to have implemented a specific immigration program for entrepreneurs that connects them with Canadian private-sector organizations with experience working with young entrepreneurs. Successful candidates obtain permanent residency.

To be eligible for the program, however, you must already have the commitment of a group of angel investors or a designated Canadian venture capital fund ready to invest in your future business. You will also need sufficient financial resources, demonstrate that you have a correct level of English or French and prove that you have already studied at least one year at a post-secondary educational institution.

In addition, some Canadian provinces have a program that allows them to select immigration candidates who are entrepreneurs or, potentially, self-employed. For more information, visit the following websites:

New Brunswick
Quebec City
British Columbia
Ontario (see Business category)
Nova Scotia

Immigration Programs for self-employed workers

You can apply to the Self-Employed Immigration Program if you want to work for yourself, provided you meet these two criteria:

To have a useful experience related to cultural or sports activities and to wish to contribute actively to the cultural or sporting life of the country.

Your experience will be considered useful if you have participated for at least two years in international cultural or sporting activities or if you have been self-employed in the field of culture and sport for at least two years. Other criteria will also be taken into account such as your age, education, language level and ability to adapt. If you are selected by Canada's immigration services, you will be granted permanent residence.

Useful links:

Investing in Canada - official government website
Government of Canada - Information on Starting a Business
Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) - Business Section
The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service - investing in Canada

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