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Canada – Self-Employment

Canada is a land of opportunities for people who want to start a business or work for themselves. In recent years, Canada has seen an increase in the number of self-employed individuals, including expats who want to live and work in the country. In this article, we will discuss self-employment and start-ups in Canada, including how it works for expats, how to register as self-employed, how to start a company, and incentives available to encourage entrepreneurship.

How Self-Employment Works for Expats in Canada

Self-employment in Canada is open to anyone, including expats. As a self-employed person, you are responsible for managing your business, filing your taxes, and providing for your own benefits such as health insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits. As a self-employed person, you will have greater flexibility and control over your work schedule and the types of work you take on.

Expats who want to work as self-employed individuals in Canada will need to apply for a work permit. The work permit application process will depend on the type of work you want to do and the requirements set out by the Canadian government.

Registering as Self-Employed in Canada

To register as self-employed in Canada, expats will need to follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business structure – Before registering, you will need to decide on the legal structure of your business. You can choose between a sole proprietorship or a corporation. A sole proprietorship is the simplest and most common form of self-employment in Canada, while a corporation offers greater protection and flexibility but involves more paperwork.

  2. Register your business – You will need to register your business with the Canadian government, including obtaining a Business Number (BN). You can register online through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.

  3. Obtain necessary permits and licenses – Depending on the type of work you will be doing, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the federal, provincial, or municipal level.

  4. Set up your bookkeeping and tax reporting system – As a self-employed person, you are responsible for keeping track of your income and expenses and filing your taxes on time. You may want to hire an accountant or use accounting software to help you with this.

  5. Set up your benefits – As a self-employed person, you will not be eligible for employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance or retirement savings. You will need to set up your own benefits, such as purchasing private health insurance or contributing to a retirement savings plan.

Can You Work as a Digital Nomad in Canada?

Digital nomads are individuals who work remotely and often travel the world while doing so. While Canada offers many opportunities for remote work, digital nomads will need to ensure they comply with Canadian immigration laws if they want to work in the country.

To work in Canada as a digital nomad, you will need to obtain a work permit. This may involve applying for a specific type of work permit, such as an International Experience Canada (IEC) permit, which is available to individuals from certain countries between the ages of 18 and 35. You will also need to comply with Canadian tax laws and file your taxes accordingly.


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How to Start a Company in Canada

Expats who want to start a company in Canada will need to follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business structure – You will need to decide on the legal structure of your business, which could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should consider your goals and needs before making a decision.

  2. Choose a business name – You will need to choose a business name that is unique and not already in use by another business in Canada. You can check the availability of a business name using the NUANS (New Upgraded Automated Name Search) system.

  3. Register your business – You will need to register your business with the appropriate government agencies, which may include the federal government, provincial government, and/or municipal government, depending on your location and type of business.

  4. Obtain necessary permits and licenses – Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the federal, provincial, or municipal level.

  5. Set up your bookkeeping and tax reporting system – As a business owner, you are responsible for keeping accurate records of your income and expenses and filing your taxes on time. You may want to hire an accountant or use accounting software to help you with this.

  6. Set up your benefits – As a business owner, you will need to provide for your own benefits, such as health insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits.

Step-by-Step Guide on How an Expat can Set Up a Company in Canada

To set up a company in Canada, expats will need to follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business structure – As mentioned before, you will need to decide on the legal structure of your business.

  2. Choose a business name – You will need to choose a unique business name that is not already in use by another business in Canada.

  3. Register your business – You will need to register your business with the appropriate government agencies. This may include registering with the federal government, provincial government, and/or municipal government, depending on your location and type of business.

  4. Obtain necessary permits and licenses – Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to obtain additional permits and licenses at the federal, provincial, or municipal level.

  5. Obtain a Business Number (BN) and register for taxes – You will need to obtain a Business Number (BN) from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and register for taxes. You may also need to register for other programs, such as the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) or the Payroll Deductions Program.

  6. Set up your bookkeeping and tax reporting system – As a business owner, you are responsible for keeping accurate records of your income and expenses and filing your taxes on time. You may want to hire an accountant or use accounting software to help you with this.

  7. Set up your benefits – As a business owner, you will need to provide for your own benefits, such as health insurance, retirement savings, and other benefits.

Incentives or Programs for Expats in Canada

Yes, there are several incentives and programs available to encourage entrepreneurship in Canada, including for expats. Some of these programs include:

  1. Start-Up Visa Program – This program is designed to attract foreign entrepreneurs to Canada and encourage them to start businesses that will create jobs and drive economic growth. To be eligible, you must have a viable business idea, receive a commitment from a designated organization, and meet certain other requirements.

  2. Canada Small Business Financing Program – This program provides financing for small businesses, including start-ups, to purchase equipment or real estate, or to invest in other business assets. To be eligible, you must have a viable business plan and meet certain other requirements.

  3. Canada Business Network – This program provides a range of services to help entrepreneurs start, grow, and manage their businesses. Services include business planning, market research, and access to financing and support programs.

  4. Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada – This government department offers a range of programs and services to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada, including funding programs for research and development, access to incubators and accelerators, and assistance with intellectual property.

  5. Provincial and Territorial Programs – Many provinces and territories in Canada offer their own programs and incentives to encourage entrepreneurship, including funding programs, tax credits, and other support services.

Expats who are interested in starting a business or working for themselves in Canada should explore these programs and services to determine which ones may be right for them.

Self-employment and start-ups are thriving in Canada, and expats who are interested in pursuing these paths have many options available to them. Whether you are looking to register as self-employed, start a company, or work as a digital nomad, Canada offers a welcoming and supportive environment for entrepreneurs. By following the steps outlined in this article and exploring the incentives and programs available, expats can take advantage of the opportunities available and build successful businesses in Canada.


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