Choose a legal structure for your business or non-profit
Choosing a legal structure is one of the first decisions you need to make when starting a business or non-profit. The legal structure you choose will impact personal liability, how much you pay in taxes, and the type of forms and reporting required.
Most businesses or non-profits operating in Nova Scotia must register with Registry of Joint Stock Companies. You need to choose a legal structure for your business or non-profit before you can register your business.
You need to choose a legal structure for your business or non-profit before you can register it. By law, all businesses or non-profits operating in Nova Scotia must register with Registry of Joint Stock Companies except:
- corporations, sole proprietorships, partnerships and business names (operating names) formed in New Brunswick
- sole proprietors or partners using only their personal names (for example, you don’t need to register ‘John Smith’, but you do need to register ‘John Smith and Associates’)
- sole proprietorships and partnerships whose sole purpose is farming or fishing
When choosing a legal structure for your business or non-profit, you should consider:
- personal liability
- tax implications
- legal implications
- who will own the business
- rules for naming a business
Registration costs and procedures vary depending on the type of legal structure you register.
In Nova Scotia, non-profits can choose to incorporate or not. You can incorporate a non-profit in several ways:
- non-profit co-operative
- limited by guarantee company
Help choosing a legal structure
Registry of Joint Stock Companies can’t give you legal advice. The registry can help by describing the registration process and requirements for each legal structure. If you have questions about what structure is right for you, you should discuss your options with your legal and accounting advisors.
Types of legal structuresSole proprietorship: Registry of Joint Stock Companies requirements
A sole proprietorship is a business owned by only 1 person. It’s not incorporated.Partnership: Registry of Joint Stock Companies requirements
A partnership is a business made up of 2 or more partners. It’s not incorporated. A partner can be a real person or a corporation.Company: Registry of Joint Stock Companies requirements
A company, also called a corporation, is a legal entity separate from its owners. It has all the rights, powers and privileges of a person.Co-operative: Registry of Joint Stock Companies requirements
A co-operative is a legally incorporated association. It’s controlled by its members who participate through a “one-member, one-vote” process. A co-operative can be a for-profit or non-profit business.Society: Registry of Joint Stock Companies requirements
A society is made up mainly of volunteers who join together for the benefit of the general public. A minimum of 5 people need to subscribe to the Memorandum of Association.