Canadian Corporate Director Residency Requirements

Grant Gilmour, Tax Advisor, Canada

Which provinces and territories allow Canadian corporations to have 100% foreign directors? And 100% foreign owners/shareholders?

In Canada a corporation must have at least one director (see International FAQ #27) but directors are not required to be shareholders. It must also have at least one shareholder. Therefore a company incorporated in Canada does not have to have Canadian resident shareholders, but may have to have Canadian resident directors depending on the province or territory they incorporate in.

The provinces and territories that require at least 25% to be Canadian resident directors. Which effectively limits foreign ownership and control. Canadian directorship is based on residency not citizenship.

  • Alberta
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Manitoba
  • Federal

The provinces and territories that do not require Canadian directors. Thus allowing full foreign ownership and control.

  • British Columbia
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Yukon Territory
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut

A company incorporated in one province can easily do business in another province. Thus incorporating in British Columbia allows doing business in Ontario and visa versa. As discussed in International FAQ #27, it may be difficult to get Canadian residents to take on the responsibilities of a director because directors are held personally liable for paying any unremitted Canadian taxes (i.e. sales taxes and payroll deductions).

If you are incorporating in Canada without Canadian resident directors and you have a West coast business, British Columbia would be the best choice for the province of incorporation. However, even if you have a Central Canada business, you may still opt for British Columbia as Eastern Maritime provinces may be too far and Quebec may be too complex a registration process. Also worth considering are the effective tax rates of provinces. Your head office in British Columbia might be a lower tax location than the alternatives (see International FAQ #44).

Have a Canadian tax question? Contact Grant Gilmour.


Grant has been in the CA business since 1988, starting his own practice in 1994. His tax expertise encompasses tax planning, international tax issues, and Scientific Research and Development tax credits. He is a graduate of the CICA In-Depth Tax Course and in 2012, Grant received the CA Community Service Award and the Scout Leader Medal.

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