Federal Certificates of Compliance are issued by the federal government on behalf of federally incorporated companies. These certificates can be referred to differently in different jurisdictions, including jurisdictions outside of Canada. Every company that is active and in good standing will be able to obtain such a certificate.
Basically a federal Certificate of Compliance is required when you need to provide someone or some other company with the assurance that your federal company is in good standing.
Being in good standing means that the company is still active and has not been dissolved for non-filing of federal and/or provincial tax returns or non-filing of federal annual filings pursuant to the requirements of Corporations Canada.
The federal Certificate of Compliance issued on behalf of a federal company will provide the accurate current name of the federal company, the federal corporate number and the status of the company.
Federal companies must file federal tax returns each year and if those returns are not filed for a number of years the federal government will dissolve the company. If your address is current on file you will be provided with warning from the Revenue Canada Agency that tax returns are due.
As well, federal companies must file federal annual returns each year with Corporations Canada on the anniversary date of incorporation. If those returns are not filed for 2 years the company will be dissolved. Even if only one of those returns is outstanding the company will not be able to obtain a Certificate of Compliance.
It is very expensive to revive a company and the federal government puts the onus on the owners of federal companies to follow the statute requirements. Any reputable Canadian search house will be able to check for you to see that your annual returns have been filed and there should not be a cost for this. If it is determined that you need to file annual returns this can be done fairly quickly by a search house and then a favourable Certificate of Compliance can be issued.
Certificates of Compliance are sometimes required by banks, law firms, individuals on the other side of a corporate deal whereby you may be selling your company, when buying property through your business, when registering a vehicle against the company, etc. Any person or company that your federal company is dealing with may ask you to provide them with a Certificate of Compliance to ensure your federal company is in good standing with Corporations Canada. Knowing this in advance will save you money and problems.