Learn about societies and decide whether a society is the best legal structure for your non-profit organization.
A society is an independent legal entity, a corporate 'person' that exists separate and apart from its members. Because of this, the members cannot be held personally responsible for the debts of the society.
Societies are similar to non-profit companies, and must direct any profits back into fulfilling the objectives of the organization. You should get legal advice if you’re not sure whether a society or non-profit company is best for your group's purposes.
When to form a society
Five or more people can form a society for purposes such as:
- social activities
You can’t form a society to carry out trade or business.
- buy, sell and own property, including land
- enter into contracts
- sue others
- be sued
- issue shares
- declare dividends for members
- distribute property among the members during the lifetime of the society
There is a $50 incorporation fee. Make your cheque payable to “Government of Alberta”. Don’t send a credit card number in the mail.
1. Choose a name
A society’s name consists of 3 elements:
‘Smith Falls White Water Rafting Association’ is an example of a society name that contains all 3 elements.
A distinctive element is a unique word or location that makes your society’s name different from others.
In the example above, ‘Smith Falls’ is the distinctive element.
A descriptive element describes what the society does or what the society is.
In the example above, ‘White Water Rafting’ is the descriptive element.
All societies are required to have a legal element at the end of their name.
In the example above, ‘Association’ is the legal element.
Accepted legal elements
The following legal elements are permitted:
Your society can choose to have a number name, e.g. '55667789 Alberta Society'. The number will be assigned by the Registrar of Corporations.
2. Get an Alberta NUANS report
You need to get an Alberta NUANS report and review it to make sure there is no other society with an identical name. Identically named societies aren’t allowed.
You’ll also need to decide if your proposed name is too similar to other incorporated names.
- if another society feels your corporation’s name is too similar to theirs, they can file an objection through the Registrar of Corporations
- if the Registrar agrees with the objection, your society can be forced to change its name
- the NUANS report reserves the proposed name for 90 days.
- the original copy of the report must be submitted with the incorporation details and must be less than 91 days old
3. Fill out the forms
4. Submit the forms and information
Submit the following to Corporate Registry:
- signed duplicates of your completed forms
- NUANS report
- the $50 incorporation fee, payable to ‘Government of Alberta’
- don’t send a credit card number in the mail
If your information meets requirements Corporate Registry will enter it into the computer system and mail you a Certificate of Incorporation.
Box 1007 Station Main
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 4W6
8:15 am - 4:00 pm
Monday - Friday
(closed statutory holidays)
Mezzanine Floor, John E. Brownlee Building
Edmonton, Alberta T5J 3W7
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