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Advices and insights

Quebec, a French-speaking province of Canada, is a land of investment. It welcomes many foreigners, including the French. Quebec is a popular destination for starting a business because of the many opportunities it offers. And it is not the freezing cold that discourages business promoters. On the other hand, it is necessary to be well prepared to start your business. This means following the steps that are simple, but essential. 

Having the right visa: a condition to create a business in Quebec 

You must be a Quebec or Canadian citizen to be eligible to practice a professional activity. Otherwise, you must be registered in at least one of the business immigration programs. There are :

  •  the entrepreneur program: designed for people who want to start or buy a business,
  • the investor program: intended for those who wish to invest in Quebec to support economic development, 
  • Self-employed program: designed for people who want to be self-employed. 

Thanks to these programs, you will be able to live and create a business in Quebec. 

Know the legal forms of businesses in Quebec 

Clearly, businesses cannot be lumped together or classified in the same way. There are many forms of business. The actual form of a business depends largely on its legal form. A sole proprietorship, for example, is considered to be a self-employed person. It is therefore a single individual who assumes de facto legal responsibility for the business. 

In addition to sole proprietorships, Quebec legislation recognizes cooperatives, non-profit organizations, businesses “not incorporated in Quebec”, joint stock companies incorporated in Quebec, general partnerships and limited partnerships. It is worthwhile to seek professional assistance in choosing the ideal legal form. In fact, each legal structure offers advantages, but also constraints and it is urgent to be assisted by a lawyer, a notary or a chartered accountant to make the right choice. This is, at the very least, what is recommended, given that the life of the company will depend essentially on its birth. 

Proceed with the registration if necessary 

After having made sure that you are authorized to create your business in Quebec. You will have to proceed with the administrative steps to start the business. This step, which follows the reflection on the choice of the legal form of the business, is very light. It simply requires a minimum of preparation and organization. 

Registration is essential to start any professional activity in Quebec. In concrete terms, you will have to fill out a declaration, in this case the one concerning registration with the Registraire des entreprises. At the end of this step, you will be assigned a Quebec business number, commonly called NEQ. This number will identify the business to any governmental structure or organization. The registration fee is 762 Canadian dollars. It is possible to be assisted by an agent by going to the Registrar’s office. 

Nevertheless, two things must be pointed out concerning registration with the Registraire des entreprises. The first concerns sole proprietorships. In fact, their registration is not an obligation except in the case of the tobacco trade. The second one is related to the facilities to proceed to the registration. There is indeed an online service to register your business. Called “Start a business”, this service allows you to follow the file in real time. 

Register with Revenu Québec

Once the company is registered, it is on file and will have to fulfill its legal and fiscal obligations annually. You will be asked for an annual update declaration every year. 

Speaking of taxation, you will also need to obtain the GST and QST numbers. The latter is the equivalent of the VAT. In fact, you will have to register with Revenu Québec, Quebec’s tax agency par excellence.

Registering with the QST and GST/HST files allows you to obtain a unique tax identifier. This number will be used to pay the annual business tax and all other tax charges for the company. These include: 

  • The municipal tax for 9-1-1
  • The tax on accommodation
  • The specific duty on new tires
  • Tax on alcoholic beverages
  • Tax on insurance premiums
  • Tobacco tax
  • Fuel tax

In addition, it is required that companies register with the corporate tax file. In the same vein, it will be necessary to register with the withholding tax file in case of hiring in the company. As mentioned above, it is possible to follow the process of all these registration requests via a digital platform.

Obtain the required prior authorizations

“Ubi societas, ibi jus”. This maxim explains that there is no society without law. And Quebec legislation rightly regulates certain activities which are subject to prior authorizations. Depending on the case, these prior authorizations give rise to a certificate of registration, a sticker or a permit. The regulated sectors that require these prior authorizations are mainly fuel, tobacco and international or interprovincial transportation:

  • Fuel: If you are a fuel importer, refiner, agent-collector. You will be charged tax. The same is true if you are a carrier, bulk storage or retail fuel vendor. In short, the entire sector is affected by this tax.
  • Tobacco: If you work or want to work in the tobacco sector, you should know that you will be required to pay tobacco tax, regardless of the activity you carry out in the tobacco industry.
  • International or interprovincial transportation: the Quebec tax authority, Revenu Québec, will require you to hold a permit, an occasional travel certificate or stickers if you are a carrier of persons or goods. On the other hand, the International Agreement concerning this sector exempts you from fuel tax in each member state or province of the Agreement.

Alicia Gomez - Senior Content Manager | Alicia is an author, blogger, and certified Enneagram coach with a bachelor's in Communications. She's been blogging for six years and run a consulting business offering communications, strategy. Her favorite quote: Be you. Break free. Break through.

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