Obtaining a certificate of compliance or certificate of existence

At some point, you may be asked to provide a certificate of compliance, a certificate of existence or both. These certificates are often needed to support a loan request or to provide assurance to a potential supplier or buyer you are looking to enter into a contract with that your corporation exists and has not been dissolved.

This document will help you to obtain a certificate of compliance or a certificate of existence for a corporation governed by the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act).

Certificate of compliance

A certificate of compliance is issued by Corporations Canada to show that a corporation:

  • exists under the NFP Act, meaning the corporation has not been dissolved, amalgamated into another corporation or discontinued so that it is governed by a different legislation
  • has filed the required annual returns with Corporations Canada
  • has paid all required fees.

Certificate of existence

A certificate of existence shows that a corporation exists as of a specified date (for example, November 1, 2014). In other words, the certificate states that on the specified date, the corporation was not dissolved, amalgamated into another corporation or discontinued so that it is governed by a different legislation.

Corporations Canada can also issue a certificate of existence for a specific time period (for example, between January 1, 2014 and November 1, 2015) as long as the corporation was not dissolved, amalgamated or discontinued at any point during that period.

A certificate of existence does not certify that a corporation has sent all the required documents to Corporations Canada or that it has paid all required fees.

Requesting a certificate

Any person can request online a certificate of compliance or a certificate of existence for a not-for-profit corporation. There is a fee. (See Services, fees and processing times - NFP Act).

When making your request, you will need to provide the name of the corporation, its corporation number or business number and information on the contact person. If you request a certificate of existence, you will need to provide the date or dates for which you want the confirmation of the existence of the corporation.

Corporations Canada offers other ways to request a certificate of compliance or a certificate of existence. (See How to I file my application?)

Corporate name change – Certificate of existence

If the corporate name has been amended, the certificate of existence will show the current corporate name even though it may have existed under a different name during part of the specific time period covered by the certificate of existence.

Date of issuance

The certificate of compliance or the certificate of existence will be dated as of the day Corporations Canada issues the certificate.

It is not possible to request a certificate be dated as of a date before it was actually issued.

Letter of existence – Canada Corporations Act (CCA)

Corporations Canada cannot issue a certificate of compliance or a certificate of existence under the NFP Act for a time period when a corporation was governed by the CCA. However, on request, Corporations Canada can issue a letter of existence that certifies the corporation existed under the CCA at a specific date or for a specific time period. To determine if your corporation was governed by the CCA, consult the corporation’s information at Search for a Federal Corporation.

To obtain a letter of existence, send a written request to Corporations Canada stating that you would like to obtain a letter of existence with the following information:

  • corporate name of the corporation for which the letter is being requested
  • requested date or time period
  • name and telephone number of a contact person
  • email address, postal address or fax number to where Corporations Canada should send the certificate

There is no fee for a letter of existence related to the CCA.

Failure to meet certificate requirements

If the corporation does not meet Corporations Canada's requirements for issuing a requested certificate, Corporations Canada will send the applicant notice of refusal that indicates the reasons why the certificate cannot be issued.
The fees are non-refundable.

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