We had previously written an article on the selection of a business name, and as well a second article on defending your business name.  I thought I would write an article about changing a company’s business name.  

A business may have initially been registered as a numbered company, or may have a legacy name that does not reflect the current business activities. There may be  many good reasons for the current name of the business.  A numbered company, for instance, is fast and easy to register because it does not require a lot of thinking during the busy time when the business is being established.Numbered names assigned during the incorporation process do not require a name search, and will be processed quickly by the corporate registrar.  

However, from time to time a business will change direction and the previously selected business name will no longer make sense.  The business may wish to stick with the corporate entity rather than reincorporating for a number of reasons (possibly tax reasons, among others), and will want to proceed with a corporate name change.

To illustrate, consider , “Emma’s Pet Foods” as the original company name. A fine name, but when the business shifted to selling paper supplies, this inconsistency became difficult for the business to explain! Branding and credibility are good reasons for changing a corporation’s business name. When signing customer contracts, especially with large commercial counter-parties, an appropriate change of corporate name may increase the business’s credibility. Additionally,  the company’s branding and sales team members may desire to conform the business name with the company’s other branding activities.

If it is time for a name change, the business has some options on how to proceed. One way to accomplish this is to register a new business name in the relevant jurisdiction. Without legally changing its name, the business can use a business name that reflects the actual business (e.g. 12194598 Canada Corporation doing business as The Paper Group. This will require a search of the registered business names registry, and some restrictions apply. More information on business name registration can be found in the linked articles noted above).  If the business is a corporation,  and if a name search (NUANS in Canada) has indicated that the proposed name is available, the name can be changed with an amendment to the articles of incorporation.   



  • The articles linked above can help you determine whether a business name registration is a less expensive option.
  • If you wish proceed with a corporate name change, you can ensure that your newly selected name is defensible by considering the articles linked above.


–  –  –

This article is provided for informational purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship with the reader. It is not legal advice and should not be regarded as such. Any reliance on the information is solely at the reader’s own risk. Clausehound.com is a legal tool geared towards entrepreneurs, early-stage businesses and small businesses alike to help draft legal documents to make businesses more productive. Clausehound offers a $10 per month DIY Legal Library which hosts tens of thousands of legal clauses, contracts, articles, lawyer commentaries and instructional videos. Find Clausehound.com where you see this logo.