Starting a business on a First Nation involves unique legal considerations. Our team members can support you every step of the way.
Legislation and First Nations Businesses
Although First Nations are under federal laws and policies, on-Nation co-operatives are regulated provincially.
Businesses on First Nations are affected by laws that impact both property rights and taxation. Ask community leadership if any of these acts apply to your business:
If a Nation has opted into the First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA), it can withdraw from the land-related sections of the Indian Act. It can draft its land code and set out rules regarding the band’s management of its land, including governance, laws, accountability, and land and resources.
Under FNLMA, the Crown (Canadian government) still owns the land, and it can’t be sold outside of the band. But steps like environmental assessments and permits take less time. Working under this Act also eliminates delays often caused by Indigenous Services Canada — the First Nation can create more efficiency, clearer communication, and greater security.
If your Nation has opted into the FNLMA, ask your band for a copy of its land code. Review the code carefully to see how it may affect the set-up of your business.
- First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA)
- First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FNFMA)
- First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act (FNGSA)
We’re here to help you clarify how legislation affects on-Nation co-ops.
For more information about how these acts can affect your co-op, see page 15 of our
There are three options to be granted land on-Nation:
For more information about on-Nation property rights, see page 16 of our
Like property rights, the tax laws that apply to a First Nation depend on whether that band operates under the Indian Act, is self-governing, or has opted into other
Generally, people with Indian status don’t pay taxes for income made on-Nation or goods purchased on-Nation.
If a First Nation is entirely under the Indian Act, Status Indians can buy goods on-Nation without paying GST and PST.
- First Nation-owned businesses have to be registered for GST if they have sales of goods and services over $30,000.
- Once registered, the business must charge sales tax on taxable goods and services.
- If a Status Indian buys something from the business, they must show their status card to receive the tax exemption. The company must record the customer’s name and registry number and retain it for seven years.
Nations that have opted intohave their own tax that replaces GST.