NUANS Name Search: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re registering your business as a sole proprietorship or incorporation, you’ll be sure to hear the term NUANS. It’s a significant part of naming your business and a mandatory step if you’re incorporating it.

But what exactly is a NUANS? What role does it play in registering your business and how do you utilize it during the process?  

What is a NUANS?

NUANS is short for New Upgraded Automated Name Search and is Canada’s official database of incorporated and trademarked businesses across the country.

When registering your business, you’ll need to perform a name search. You can do that manually by searching through the internet, but in the majority of cases, you’ll need to do a more official name search.

Once you’ve settled on your top two or three name choices, your NUANS report shows you a listing of trademarked or incorporated businesses that have similar names to the business that you’re starting. It’s an opportunity for you to ensure your business name is distinct enough from those listed in the NUANS so you can operate without concern.

When do you need a NUANS report?

There’s a distinction between when you need a NUANS and when a NUANS is required.

  • If you’re registering as a sole proprietorship, you technically don’t need to do a NUANS. You can start and operate your business under whatever name you choose, so long as that business name isn’t already trademarked or incorporated.
  • If you’re incorporating your business, a NUANS is mandatory. You’ll need to submit what’s called your articles of incorporation and a NUANS report is a required part of that submission. This isn’t the case in all provinces. Only Ontario, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and incorporating federally are you required to provide a NUANS report.

Something to keep in mind is that when you’re registering a sole proprietorship, a NUANS report doesn’t guarantee the protection of your name. Only when incorporating can you be sure that your business name can not legally be used by another Canadian company.

Will my business name be available?

A NUANS report is NOT a name search. It simply lets you know the names of trademarked or incorporated businesses that are similar to the business name that you’re proposing. Before you submit your name to a NUANS, you need to do a pre-search of potential business names.

Ownr lets you search up to 30 unique names before ordering a NUANS. This provides you with a thorough search of businesses in the jurisdiction you’re registering your business. If you order a NUANS before doing a pre-search and a similar or identical business name appears on the report, you’ll have to order the NUANS again.

How long are NUANS reports valid?

A NUANS report is valid for 90 days from the date you first order the report. You’ll need to finish registering or incorporating your business within those 90 before the names on the report are no longer valid. That’s a fair amount of time, but it’s more ideal to be ready to incorporate soon or immediately after completing the NUANS. 

Who needs a NUANS report?

If you are incorporating your business in one of the provinces we mentioned — Ontario, New Brunswick, Alberta, PEI, Nova Scotia — or if you’re incorporating federally, then a NUANS report is required. This also applies to non-profits and charitable organizations that are incorporating in these provinces.

When registering as a sole proprietor, it’s still suggested you conduct a pre-search for your business name, but since that name is technically not protected, a NUANS report isn’t mandatory.

How much does a NUANS report cost?

A NUANS report in the provinces where it’s mandatory cost $25 ($35 for federal). In other provinces where a NUANS is not required, the cost can vary between $60-$80 for provincial incorporation. If you live in BC, Ownr lets you submit up to 3 business names for $31.50.

How are NUANS reports used?

Your completed NUANS is submitted with your articles of incorporation where it’s reviewed by federal or provincial government examiners. Their aim is to ensure your business name doesn’t conflict with any existing business. And if there is conflict, they will depend on supporting documentation to explain why you’ve chosen to submit that name.

Can a business name be searched before it’s reserved?

Yes, it can! The purpose of a pre-search is to identify any business names already in use that are similar to the ones you’re thinking of using. You should start with a basic internet search. That will quickly let you know of any glaring conflicts when it comes to your business name.

Once that’s done, you should take the next step and use a search tool. You have options when it comes to the name search tool you decide to use. Ownr gives you up to 30 unique name searches. That should be enough for you to narrow down your top three choices.

How to do you order a NUANS report?

It’s important that you select a NUANS report from the jurisdiction in which you’re starting your business. This is true even if you’re incorporating your business federally. The physical NUANS report comes in the form of a six or seven-page document outlining incorporated or trademarked businesses with names similar to the business names you’ve proposed. 

Ownr wants to make the process of Registering your business as seamless as possible therefore, we include the NUANS Report within your purchased registration package.



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