4 Types Of Legal Entities In Canada: Pros & Cons Explained

Want to select a legal entity for your business in Canada? Here are the different types of legal entities in Canada along with their pros and cons.


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    Table of Contents

    Types of Company in Canada in 2023

    Choosing the appropriate business structure is one of many crucial considerations that must be made when starting a business in Canada. Entrepreneurs must be familiar with the various kinds of business structures in the dynamic Canadian business environment. Your choice will affect the legal responsibilities of your company, the tax 

    types of legal entities in canada

    repercussions, and your personal culpability. So that you may make an informed decision, let’s look at the numerous legal organizations that are available in Canada.

    If you intend to set up a company in Canada, this article will explain you the types of companies that you can choose for your business based on your needs and preferences.

    Various Types of Legal Entities in Canada

    4 types of business structures in canada

    Here are the various types of business structures in Canada:

    1. Sole Proprietorship

    A sole proprietorship is one of the most simple types of business structures in Canada. In such types of company in Canada, the business is owned and operated by a single individual, making it a great option for sole proprietors and small businesses.


    • Full Control: As a sole proprietor, you have total command over every aspect of running your organization and decision-making processes.
    • Minimal Setup: Forming a sole proprietorship is easy and cost-effective. There are no complex legal formalities.
    • Direct Tax Benefits: Earnings generated from the business are disclosed on your individual tax return, simplifying taxation.


    • Unlimited Personal Liability: One significant drawback is that you have unlimited personal responsibility. As a result, if the business experiences financial problems, your personal assets, such as your home or savings, could possibly be in danger.
    • Limited Capital: Sole proprietors may face challenges in raising capital since they can only rely on personal funds and loans.
    • Limited Growth: The potential for business growth may be limited compared to other structures, such as corporations.

    2. Partnership

    A Partnership is formed when two or more people or organizations join together to manage a business. Partnerships can be divided into two primary categories: general partnerships and limited partnerships.

    General Partnership:

    • In a general partnership, each partner is equally accountable and liable for the company’s activities.
    • According to the guidelines outlined in the partnership agreement, partners split profits and losses equally.
    • It is suitable for small to medium-sized businesses because it is reasonably simple to set up and manage.

    Limited Partnership:

    • Both general partners and limited partners are present in limited partnerships.
    • General partners actively oversee the company and are accountable for its debts individually.
    • Limited partners have little responsibility but invest money in the company. They aren’t involved in daily operations.


    • Shared Responsibilities: Partnerships distribute responsibilities and resources among partners, allowing for a collaborative approach to management.
    • Flexible Structure: Partnerships can define roles and responsibilities in various ways, offering flexibility to suit the needs of the business.
    • Combined Expertise: With multiple partners, you can tap into a broader range of expertise and skills.


    • Unlimited Liability (General Partners): General partners have unlimited personal liability, which implies that their private assets are in jeopardy.
    • Conflict Potential: Partnerships can sometimes lead to conflicts and disagreements among partners, affecting business operations.
    • Shared Profits: Profits and decision-making are shared among partners, which may not suit everyone’s financial goals.

    3. Corporation

    A corporation is a more complex business structure that is distinct from its owners, known as shareholders. Larger businesses typically choose such types of business structures in Canada.


    • Limited Personal Liability: Shareholders are protected from personal liability, meaning their personal assets are generally not at risk in case of business debt or legal issues.
    • Access to Capital: Corporations can raise capital more easily by selling shares to investors, making it a suitable choice for businesses with growth ambitions.
    • Perpetual Existence: A corporation’s existence is not affected by the passing of shareholders or alterations in ownership. It can continue to operate indefinitely.


    • Complex Setup: Establishing and maintaining a corporation involves more complex legal and administrative processes, including formal registration and compliance with regulatory requirements.
    • Stricter Regulations: Corporations are subject to stricter regulatory requirements, such as annual reporting and financial disclosure.
    • Double Taxation: The possibility of double taxation is a serious concern. Taxes are levied on corporate profits, and shareholders’ payouts are also liable for personal income taxes.

    4. Cooperative

    Cooperatives are a unique business structure where members jointly own and run the company. Depending on their level of activity, members receive a portion of the profits.


    • Shared Decision-Making: Cooperatives promote shared decision-making, allowing members to have a say in business operations and direction.
    • Social Responsibility: Cooperatives often focus on social responsibility and community development, making them suitable for businesses with a strong community-oriented mission.
    • Profit Distribution: Profits are distributed among members, which can be fairer and more equitable than traditional corporate structures.


    • Limited Funding Sources: Cooperatives may have limited access to external funding sources, making it challenging to secure capital for growth.
    • Conflict Resolution: Consensus-based decision-making is common in cooperatives, which could make it more difficult to make decisions.
    • Member Conflicts: Like partnerships, cooperatives can also experience conflicts among members, affecting business operations.


    Making the appropriate business structure choice in Canada will influence your entrepreneurial career. Each choice offers benefits and drawbacks of its own. Check that the corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or cooperative you choose will help you achieve your short- and long-term business goals. 

    Consult with OnDemand International’s business specialists to learn more about the numerous types of legal entities in Canada. Our experts are here to provide comprehensive explanations of the various Canadian legal systems.


    Yes, you can alter your organizational structure as your business grows and evolves. 

    Taxation varies for each structure. Sole proprietors include company earnings in their personal tax returns, while corporations face corporate tax rates. Partnerships and cooperatives have their own tax rules.

    Registering your business depends on your location and structure. Generally, you must register with the relevant provincial or territorial agencies and acquire the required licenses and permits.

    Sole proprietorship or partnership is possibly appropriate for small startups due to their simplicity and cost-effectiveness. Consult with a business advisor for personalized guidance.

    Yes, non-residents can start a business in Canada, but they may need to appoint a Canadian resident director and navigate specific regulations.

    To incorporate, you’ll need to choose a business name, file articles of incorporation, and meet other legal requirements.