Doing business in Québec? Not as complex as it sounds!
The unique charm and distinctiveness of Québec culture
Quebecers come from a unique blend of North-American, European and Native influences—an unmatched cultural combination.
Practically speaking, they’ve inherited:
- the American’s straightforward efficiency
- the Frenchmen’s rich language and love of food
- the British’s pride and even-keeled disposition
- and the First Nation’s cunning and sense of concord. All in all, this makes for a genuinely happy people.
So, as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. A wise organization will seize the opportunity to join in Québec’s way of life and being.
Bill 101, also known as the Charter of the French Language, establishes French as the official language in the province of Québec. Prior to its adoption by the National Assembly on August 26, 1977, Québec was the only province in Canada to practice full bilingualism in its public institutions.
Practically speaking, Bill 101 is aimed at safeguarding the Quebecers’ mother tongue and culture, all the while giving them a formidable opportunity to take control of their destiny and to thrive as a distinct people. As they proceed through their historical journey, more and more French-speaking Quebecers pursue a university education, develop their entrepreneurial spirit and vie for managerial positions. Nowadays, French is the language of choice for the workforce, for signage and for all aspects of life in Québec. The purpose of the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) is to preserve and protect this prized French individuality.
Did you know that Québec is far from being the only place in the world where laws have been implemented to protect the cultural and linguistic identity of its people?
There are more than 50 States internationally (including 30-some States in the U.S.) that have adopted language laws because of fear of assimilation.
Francization certificate for businesses
In order to make sure that businesses from outside Québec are in conformity with the Charter, the OQLF has created a simple but efficient tool to assess their situation: the Linguistic Analysis. This process is a crucial step in helping businesses with 50 or more employees to establish a French‑friendly work environment.
Things like instruction guides, computers and software, typical signage throughout the premises (ex.: “Exit” signs to be changed to “Sortie”)—everyday stuff for which common sense dictates that it should be available and easily comprehended by its users has to be offered in French. Results from the French usage analysis eventually leads to obtaining the francization certificate.
Benefits of French as the language in the workplace for the business and its employees
A study has shown that Francophones working in a French-friendly environment tend to be 1.5 times more productive than if they had been working in an English-speaking setting. Moreover, the prominence of quality French in the workplace creates a sense of pride in your workforce, which translates into more engaged and committed employees toward the clientele.
Benefits of French for a business and its clientele
Following honesty, sense of belonging is the most important trait for Quebecers. Doing business in French can be a marketing boon since companies acting accordingly will generate loyalty from their customers and reap unmatched publicity from appreciative, wide-spreading word-of-mouth. In some instances, they may even get visibility in the media for making efforts to truly embrace local ways.
In their decision-making process, businesses should consider the positive financial impact that results from adopting French in their dealings with their Québec clientele.
The Registraire des entreprises du Québec
The very first action to be taken by a business when arriving in Québec is to get in touch with the Registraire des entreprises du Québec (REQ) to obtain a mandatory registration number. The REQ also needs to be informed of any modification to the number of employees in your organization.
To contact the REQ :
- Québec City region: 418-644-4545
- Montréal region: 514-644-4545
- Elsewhere in Québec: 1-877 644-4545
The QST a.k.a. Québec Sales Tax
The QST (Québec Sales Tax) on goods and services is levied by the Québec provincial government. Since 2013, it has been fixed at 9.975% and is calculated on top of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) imposed by the Federal government.
You must refer to the QST basic regulations to determine if you need to register with the related agencies in charge of the QST and GST. It also gives you more detailed information about your obligations and which taxes apply to which type of sales in a given location.
Hence, you may have to take the following steps:
- Register your company with the agencies in charge of the QST and GST
- Collect taxes from your customers
- Calculate your input tax credits and refunds
- File a GST/QST return for each returning period
This said—and conditional to your status and level or revenues—, you may qualify for a provincial or federal tax rebate.
Translating from English to French
At Francisation InterGlobe, our experienced team will translate and adapt any document from English to French. We offer a high quality level of French translations for the Québec market.
We help businesses wanting to set up shop in Québec. We offer strategic marketing services that will increase your success in the Québec market. We want to increase your sales and ensure that you retain your clientele.