Please note the following is a summary of information from associated government websites. It is for reference only and is not an official interpretation of the governing legislation. The official documents and legal counsel should be consulted to ensure accuracy.
Governed by the Charter of the French language (articles 58 and 59), Regulation respecting the language of commerce and business (Division III, articles15 to 26)
Chapter VII-The Language of Commerce and Business
- Public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in French.
- They may also be both in French and in another language provided that French is markedly predominant.
- However, the Government may determine, by regulation, the places, cases, conditions or circumstances where public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in French only, where French need not be predominant or where such signs, posters and advertising may be in another language only.
59. Section 58 does not apply to advertising carried in news media that publish in a language other than French, or to messages of a religious, political, ideological or humanitarian nature if not for a profit motive.
DIVISION III – PUBLIC SIGNS AND POSTERS AND COMMERCIAL ADVERTISING
15. A firm’s commercial advertising, displayed on billboards, on signs or posters or on any other medium having an area of 16 m2 or more and visible from any public highway within the meaning of section 4 of the Highway Safety Code (R.S.Q., c. C-24.2), must be exclusively in French unless the advertising is displayed on the very premises of an establishment of the firm.
16. A firm’s commercial advertising on or in any public means of transportation and on or in the accesses thereto, including bus shelters, must be exclusively in French.
17. Public signs and posters displayed on or in a vehicle regularly used to transport passengers or merchandise, both in Québec and outside Québec, may be both in French and in another language provided that French appears at least as prominently.
20. Public signs and posters and commercial advertising concerning an event intended for an international public or an event in which the majority of participants come from outside Québec, where directly related to the nature and recognized purpose of the event, may be both in French and in another language provided that French appears at least as prominently.
22. Unless the vehicle used is a news medium which publishes or broadcasts in French, public signs and posters and commercial advertising concerning a cultural or educational product within the meaning of section 2, a cultural or educational activity within the meaning of section 11 or a news medium may be exclusively in a language other than French provided that the content of the cultural or educational product is in that other language, the activity is held in that other language or the news medium publishes or broadcasts in that other language, as the case may be.
23. Public signs and posters displayed by a natural person for non-professional and non-commercial purposes may be in the language of the person’s choice.
24. Public signs and posters and commercial advertising concerning a convention, conference, fair or exhibition intended solely for a specialized or limited public may, during the event, be exclusively in a language other than French.
25. On public signs and posters and in commercial advertising, the following may appear exclusively in a language other than French:
- the firm name of a firm established exclusively outside Québec;
- a name of origin, the denomination of an exotic product or foreign specialty, a heraldic motto or any other non-commercial motto;
- a place name designating a place situated outside Québec or a place name in such other language as officialized by the Commission de toponymie du Québec, a family name, a given name or the name of a personality or character or a distinctive name of a cultural nature; and
- a recognized trade mark within the meaning of the Trade Marks Act (R.S.C. 1985, c. T-13), unless a French version has been registered
26. Nothing in this Division precludes the use of any artificial combination of letters, syllables or figures or the use of pictographs, figures or initials on public signs and posters and in commercial advertising.
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Governed by the Official Languages Act
Communication with the Public
29. Institutions shall publish all postings, publications and documents intended for the general public in both official languages.
30. The Province and its institutions are responsible for ensuring that all services offered to the public by third parties on their behalf are delivered in both official languages.
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Amendments current as of November 2013
Date of COMMB Update: January 2017