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Incorporation Checklist

If you’re ready to incorporate your co-op, congrats! You’ve already put in a lot of the legwork needed to figure out what your co-op will be. If you’re not quite there yet that’s okay; this page will provide an incorporation checklist for what to expect when you reach this point in the development of your co-operative.

There are many important steps that lead up to incorporating a co-op, which makes your business idea into a legal entity. Here’s a quick reference to help make sure you have everything organized.

Incorporation checklist item 1: Preparing to incorporate your co-op

Before actually incorporating your co-operative business, there are some basic questions to answer about the identity of the co-op. It’s important for your incorporating group to answer these questions together, as creating a co-op is a group endeavour.

  • What is the name of the co-operative? (You can use a dotmocracy exercise to help you pick one)
  • Where will the co-operative do most of its business?
  • Will we have a limited number of shareholders or will it be open?
  • What will be the cost of a share or membership fee?
  • How many board members should we have?
  • Will there be more than one class of shareholder?
  • What, specifically, will be the objectives or purpose of the co-operative?

The answers to these questions will give you some of the information you’ll use to create the articles of incorporation and some provisions in the bylaws.* (Not sure what “articles of incorporation” or “bylaws” are? Or the difference between them? This video will help). These documents are usually created by the group who wants to incorporate the co-op (ie. the steering committee), but groups may also want some expert help with this process. The Co-operatives First team is happy to help steering committees in western Canada with incorporation — if you have any questions about it, please get in touch.

*If you’re in British Columbia, your articles of incorporation are known as “memorandum of association”, and your bylaws are known as “rules of association” (just to keep things interesting).

Incorporation checklist item 2: Technical components

There are several tasks that governments require new businesses to complete to incorporate. These are necessary for government records for regulatory purposes, but also formalize the co-operative as a legal entity with individual rights and powers. This checklist provides an overview of the steps you need to complete to incorporate your co-operative:

  • Set up an account with the corporate registry in your province:
  • Finalize the name and location for your co-op
  • Reserve your co-op’s name by submitting a name request search form to your province’s corporate registry. Once you’ve done this, you’ll receive a reservation number.
  • Decide who the incorporators and first directors will be (the steering committee setting up the co-op usually takes these roles). Compile their full contact details.
  • Complete your province’s Articles of Incorporation form(s).
  • Complete the bylaws of the co-operative.
  • Submit necessary documents to the corporate registry account.
  • Notify relevant government departments of incorporation (workers compensation, ministry of finance, etc.)
  • Pay any outstanding fees.

This list may look intimidating, but don’t worry — if you have trouble with any (or all) of these steps, contact us to talk about how we can best help your group. If you want us to handle your incorporation (and you’re in western Canada), click here for more.

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