Starting a Business in Canada [Foreigner’s guide]

Starting a Business in Canada

Foreigner’s guide to starting Businesses in Canada

It could initially appear overwhelming to launch a business in Canada. The method involves quite a few steps, so going step by step is helpful.

Whether you run a small business or own a huge corporation, there are numerous options for starting a business in Canada. The purpose of this page is to provide information for international entrepreneurs about how to start a business in Canada.

Canadian Entrepreneurship: How Do Foreign Entrepreneurs Get Started?

There are four choices available to foreign business owners or entrepreneurs looking to launch a company in Canada.

Entrepreneur Work Permits

The Entrepreneur Work Permit program in Canada may be of assistance to you if you are a foreign entrepreneur interested in establishing your business in Canada and relocating. The program is open to foreign entrepreneurs with at least 50% shares of a Canadian business and who demonstrate that their business will create jobs for Canadians and contribute to Canada’s economy. Under various immigration programs in Canada, foreign entrepreneurs may apply for permanent residence after successfully establishing and managing their companies for at least one year.

Intra Company Transfer (ICT)

An existing business you have in another country can be expanded into Canada if you are a foreign entrepreneur. A number of routes lead to permanent residency for foreigners working in ICT in Canada after a year.

Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)

All provinces in the country offer provincial immigration pathways to foreigners interested in investing, working, and settling permanently in the country. It is common for foreign entrepreneurs to utilize the Entrepreneurs streams of the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program and British Columbia PNP.

Owner-Operator LMIA Program

Up until April 2021, when it was terminated, this program was very famous. LMIA is increasingly being used by international entrepreneurs. Alternatively, you can obtain the same results with an Entrepreneur Work Permit.

Common Requirements for Starting a Business in Canada

You will probably need to meet these five requirements in order to be considered for any of the programs mentioned above:

1. Viable Business Plan

Your company proposal is the most crucial part of your work visa application, so make sure it’s thorough, well-conceived, and feasible in the Canadian market. The following sections should be included in a solid business strategy:

  • An explanation of the business model
  • Value statement
  • Advantage over rivals
  • Risks and difficulties
  • Long-range planning
  • Short-term plan of action
  • Team and personnel plan
  • Key suppliers and partners
  • Monetization approach
  • Market analysis Marketing Tactics
  • Profit & loss evaluation

You shouldn’t run your company like an owner-operator who only pays you or your partner. Unlike a passive investment (such as buying a rental property), running your own business requires active management and active engagement.

If it wants to generate jobs for Canadians and significantly boost the country’s economy, it must have a well-developed long-term growth strategy.

2. Relevant Experience

To start and operate your company in Canada, you must also demonstrate management skills and experience (either in your industry or closely related to it). The immigration officer reviewing your application must be convinced that your business plan can be implemented. Make sure you include in your application documentation that shows you have the knowledge and skills to launch a similar venture in Canada, such as educational background, professional experience, or business ownership.

3. The Ability to Afford to Start a Business as a Foreigner in Canada

A company plan in Canada can only be carried out if there is sufficient funding. As well as showing how their investment will benefit Canada, they must also demonstrate how it will benefit the company. Obtaining business finance may be necessary, as well as establishing an appropriate corporate structure. Business owners often ask us how much money they should invest in their ventures. The answer is always “it depends.”. What kind of enterprise you intend to launch in Canada will determine the answer. Investing in a project that is affordable will allow the company to cover operating costs over the next one to two years.

To cover your startup costs in the first year of operation, we recommend investing at least $100,000 as seed money if your business concept is “asset-light.” Ideally, you should have at least $300,000 to $500,000 in liquid funds if the company requires extra funding before it can generate sales.

It is important that you don’t use all your savings to start your Canadian company. It is always risky to start a new business, especially when you expand internationally. Having access to sufficient funding is crucial for your business’s success and your immigration application’s success.

4. Dedication and Action

Put your business plan into action before you submit your immigration application. Relocation applications require you to demonstrate your commitment to implementing your business plan. Before completing your immigration application, you should begin putting your business strategy into action. You must prove your commitment to executing your business plan as part of your immigration application. You can show your dedication to your company’s goal in a variety of ways. For instance, you might incorporate your business federally or provincially, open a provincial sales tax account with the Canada Revenue Agency, acquire supplies or goods, lease space, engage local workers, etc.

Your chances of receiving approval are increased the more preparation you put into starting your Canadian company.

5. No criminal activity and a clear travel record

The final prerequisite is that you cannot have a criminal record or a history of violating immigration regulations in Canada or abroad. Your chances of being successful with an immigration application would probably be lowered if you have a criminal record from any country. The type of your criminal background may lead Canadian authorities to rule that you are ineligible for immigration. If you want to be successful with any startup immigration choices to Canada, having no criminal past is essential.

Benefits of Starting a Business in Canada

Low tax and business costs: Canada’s low taxes and low costs make it a great place to run a business. Compared to other G-7 countries, Canada has a significantly lower tax rate on new corporate investments. Regarding taxes, it is the nation with the friendliest tax system in the entire globe.

Excellent Economic Growth: Canada ranked No. 1 for doing business within Forbes magazine’s G-20 rankings. Business prospects are good in Canada, which has a strong fiscal position.

Excellence in innovation and research: Canada offers a number of advantages for research and development, including world-class infrastructure, skilled manpower, and incentive programs. Through a combination of federal and provincial subsidies, foreign investors can get up to 30 percent of their R&D investment in Canada.

Ideal surroundings for business startups: The workforce in Canada is multiethnic, flexible, and highly educated. This will give firms a huge opportunity to expand in the market and aid in increasing their effectiveness there.

Ways to register a business in Canada

1. Choose the ideal business name

Before you begin doing business in Canada, you must think of a distinctive name for your company. Choose a name for your business that represents it well and is also simple to recall. You must confirm that the name is accessible because it is illegal to use a name that is identical to or similar to one that is currently in use.

2. Get business number

Businesses are identified by their nine-digit Business Numbers, which are used by both the federal and provincial governments. An NEQ is required if you want to incorporate in Quebec (Quebec Enterprise Number).

3. Choose between federal and provincial incorporation for your business

Incorporating with a federal or provincial authority is an option for a company’s owner. Corporations registered under the federal government can operate under the same name across all provinces and territories, but they are more expensive and require more work to be registered.

4. A HST application (Harmonized Sales Tax)

GST/HST accounts are required if your business is expected to generate more than $30,000 in annual revenue. As a merchant, you can get your GST/HST tax back if you register, so it will make sense for the company to encourage smaller merchants to do so.

5. Obtain business licenses and permits

In spite of the fact that most businesses do not require federal or provincial licenses, you may need to obtain municipal business licenses and permits. When you own a cafe, restaurant, or driving school, for example, you might need a municipal operating license. Food handler certification may be required for businesses like daycares or day nurseries.

It is almost certain that you will need a municipal business license if you operate a business from your home or engage in activities that will annoy your neighbors. Your industry’s permits and licenses can be found on the government’s BizPal portal based on your location.


A lot of people who immigrate to Canada already have experience in business or have plans to launch one from scratch. On the other hand, establishing a profitable business is challenging, and the tenets of entrepreneurship might vary by country or sector. Some information is important to know if you intend to launch a small business in Canada.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.