Opening a branch office or other corporate or legal Canadian business type in Canada is much like starting your business all over again! You have an expansion plan; researched the best business “entity” for your business and decided upon whether to have a virtual office from your home or rent office space, warehouse or storefront. Then you have to set up a legal entity to do business under and to carry out setting up the business. All of these activities will require a Canadian address. Without a Canadian address, you are in bureaucratic ‘quicksand.’

The Virtual Office Options

There is not much to consider when deciding whether a P.O. Box is appropriate over a virtual address because a P.O. Box is not a legal address for the purposes of incorporation or almost any legal business entity that a U.S.-based or foreign company can use. A Business Centre’s virtual office and office space services provide your business with complete flexibility when these services are provided. It is almost assuredly going to cost more using a lawyer to provide an address and forward all your correspondence until your staff are in place. If you go for a telephone answering and mail service, all your contact points are covered. Some business centres will forward calls to long distance numbers or a toll-free number and/or take messages (generally available via email as well) giving your business the appearance of being local.

Another type of mail forwarding is International Mail Service. In most cases this service will repackage all the mail received on behalf of your business into one envelope and then quickly forward it to your address of choice. This service and a VoIP phone service can give the appearance of being local when you are actually on a different continent.

The Office Space Option

Another big advantage is that a business centre enables you to use the virtual address when you just need mail forwarded – with the real advantages coming from the ability to add telephone answering services and eventually flexible office workspace )with all the business furniture and equipment and professional reception services included). All without the nuisance of updating corporate information or notifying vendors or customers of changing contact information.

You will be able to grow from one address. So, as your branch office grows:

  1. New office space is automatically available or excess space can be dropped
  2. No notifying customers of your address and phone contact info changing
  3. No loss of customers due to changing contact info
  4. Your employees won’t have to furnish the office space
  5. No need to hire reception or office support staff
  6. Source and equip your branch office
  7. Save on maintenance and other costs associated with renting traditional office space
  8. More efficient use of support space (lunch/breakrooms, reception/waiting areas and conference rooms. etc.)

The biggest advantage of using a business centre as your office space solution is a business centre’s flexibility in rental terms. Most business centres that have excess office space means that you can start with a space that is always fully utilized – without worrying about what will happen if growth is faster than anticipated or the reverse, where you have rented to much space. If you have rented too much space, your only real option to fix it is to share the office space with another company. If growth is faster than expected, you can increase the space with no fear of paying more for under-utilized space when growth subsides or when spending time and resources associated with moving a business. Unlike a traditional office space, taxes and maintenance are shared equally among the tenants based on the percentage of the building used. A business centre is spreading that cost over more businesses, so you are not paying all theses costs. They are shared among all customers of the business centre.

Opening a new business in a new country with little knowledge of local service providers or vendors can result in a lot of time and expense spent finding and doing due diligence for new service providers and vendors for business furniture and equipment.  A big advantage of utilizing a business centre for international expansion is that the time and resources used to source and acquire business furniture and equipment as well as hiring support staff, is not required since they are provided by the business centre.

Another advantage a business centre has over traditional office space is that support areas and professional reception staff are included with your office space. Often, there is also meeting room and boardroom time included. A business centre may also include a waiting area, reception and break/lunch room facilities resulting in cost savings due to not paying for common areas. With a traditional rental space, all of these common areas must be included as part of the requirements for space.

The cost of contacting all customers and vendors when your address changes is not inexpensive – so the flexibility of rental terms and amount of space available does result in cost savings for an organization (not to mention the loss of business due to customers and vendors not being able to contact you).


In the end, the biggest advantage a business centre has over all other “location” solutions is that it provides more flexibility at a cheaper price. Basically, using a business centre for your point of contact means considerably less hassles setting up your office and keeping customers informed of contact points – especially at a time when the business is experiencing its highest rate of growth and contact information changing frequently as a result. All of this, and the ability to walk into a fully functioning office, will make the opening of your branch office in Canada the exciting time it should be – instead of the chaos that would accompany having to set up an office and support staff remotely or after you have opened for business.