Transparency Register Required for B.C. Private Businesses

With the intent to end hidden ownership of companies in British Columbia and help crack down on illegal activities; Bill 24 of the B.C Business Corporations Amendment Act (BCBCAA), 2019, will come into effect on October 1, 2020. The following is a high-level summary of Bill 24. Under BCBCAA, private businesses in B.C. are required to maintain a Transparency Register that records information on the company’s Significant Individuals.

In general terms, Significant Individuals are the business’s beneficial owners, including individuals who have direct or indirect control of the company or its shares. Information collected includes full legal name, date of birth, citizenship, and last known address.

To create the Transparency Register for your company, you must determine who are the Significant Individuals of your company. Once you have determined that someone is a significant individual, you must contact that person and request the required information from them. The significant individual is required to provide this information. 

A Transparency Register is specific only to private companies incorporated in B.C. and will be held in each company’s own records office and the public will not have access to it. Only current directors of the company, law enforcement and specific inspecting officials will have access, subject to certain rules.

Transparency Register must be reviewed annually, and any changes that would affect the register must be recorded within 30 days of the company becoming aware of the changes.

There are severe penalties for failing to comply with the requirements. Companies may be fined up to $100,000 and individuals; shareholders, directors, officers, and persons who act as their records office may be fined up to $50,000 for failing to comply.

The BC government’s comprehensive guide to the Transparency Register is located here.

We recommend that you read the BC Government’s documentation at the above link and that you seek legal consultation regarding the specific issues your company may have complying with the requirement to set-up and maintain a Transparency Register.