How to Register for a Business Number in Canada

If you wish to own a business after immigrating to Canada, you must register for a Business Number (BN) after you arrive and the business has been established. A business number is a unique number made up of 9 digits and is required of all businesses in Canada.

BN is issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and is the unique way the government or other legal entities identify each business in Canada.

It doesn’t matter if your business is a corporation, a sole proprietorship, or a partnership; you will still be issued a Business Number once you register with the CRA.

Your business can only have one Business Number at a time. However, you may be required to change your BN as you make certain improvements or changes to your business.

What is a Business Number?

A Business Number ensures you have the same identification information even when registering or filling in your business information anywhere.

It also makes it easier for your business to communicate with Canada’s federal or provincial government. You will need it to file a federal tax return for your business whenever you want.

You will require to open several accounts with the CRA, but the first nine digits that make up your BN remain the same in all these cases. Hence, any other identification number you have for various accounts, such as GST/HST and payroll, will be divided into three sections.

  • The first section is the 9-digit number that makes up your Business Number.
  • The second section is the program identifier. This determines what kind of account or program the number is specific for. For example, ‘RC’ is used for income tax, while ‘Rp’ is used for payroll.
  • The third section is referred to as the reference number.

An HST number for a certain business in Canada is therefore going to look like this:


Although the Business Number is significant in Canada, you don’t need one if your business is not making up to $30,000 per annum as gross profit yet.

Why do you need a Business Number in Canada?

You need a Canadian Business Number for the following reasons:

  • To incorporate a CRA program account.
  • In other to open a CRA My Business account
  • To transact with Canada’s federal, territorial, provincial, or municipal governments.
  • When you want to make the following registrations:
  • Business Registration Online
  • Incorporating your business with the federal government
  • CRA program accounts. This includes GST/HST, import-export, and payroll deductions.
  • Incorporating your business with the government of the following provinces or territories:
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan

When do You Need a New Business Number in Canada?

You will be required to register for a New Business Number in Canada when you want to go about specific processes, such as changing your business’s structure or legal ownership.

Also, you may be required to register for a new number when making changes with regard to the administration of your business or expanding business operations.

Business Number for Sole Proprietorship

While your business remains handled by you alone, you can still register for a BN. Such BN will, however, be issued to you as an individual and not as a government.

To register for a Business Number, in this case, you must also open at least one account with the CRA. This could be GST/HST account, Import/Export Account, etc.

An individual can only have one Business Number in Canada. So if you have more than one sole proprietorship or dissolve one to start another, all will be registered under the identical BN.

Business Number for Company or Corporation

If your business grows and you need more hands, the business is no longer a sole proprietorship.

In this case, you will have to forsake the initial BN and register another for the business. In addition, you will have to transfer all assets and liabilities from sole proprietorship to corporation.

If you are starting your business from scratch as a corporation, you will still require to apply for a new BN even if you have had one as an individual before or have another already existing business.

Business Number for Partnership

Partnering with someone else in your business means you will have a separate BN for the partnership. However, if the partnership is later dissolved, such a Business Number is no longer needed and will be canceled.

Requirements for Applying for a Business Number in Canada

When applying for BN from the CRA, you will be asked certain questions about your business and be asked to provide certain documents. Such requirements are:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Documents showing the appropriate registration of the business
  • Financial year-end. This includes all profits and losses made by your business within the first 53 weeks of operation.

How to Register For A Business Number Online

You can Register For a Business Number online, by mail, fax, or telephone. Or you can register online through the CRA website. You can also open other CRA program accounts online. Such accounts are:

  • GST/HST program account (RT)
  • Payroll deductions program account (RP)
  • Import-export program account (RM)
  • Corporation income tax program account (RC)

Registering for A Business Number By Mail or by Fax

If you only want a business number, use Business Registration Online instead.

To print a form, go to Form RC1, and ask for a business number and certain program accounts, or to order a form, go to “Get a form or publications.”

Fill in form RC1 upon completing the form, mail or fax it to your tax service office or tax center closer to you.

Register By phone

To get a business number and register for CRA program accounts by phone, please call us via our Business inquiries line at 1-800-959-5525. In the case of hours of service, go to Hours of telephone service. If you want a business number, use Business Registration Online (above) instead.

Before calling, be ready to answer all the questions in Part A of Form RC1, Request for a business number and certain program accounts, and any other questions in the form about the CRA program accounts you want to open.

Business Operating In Quebec And GST/HST Program Account

In Quebec, Revenu Québec generally administers the GST/HST. ThoTherefore, those who have a physical location of their business in Quebec have to file their returns with Revenu Québec using its forms unless you are someone that is a selected listed financial institution (SLFI) for GST/HST or QST purposes or both.

You can also see here for Citizenship Identification Documents In Canada.

How to Register for My Business Account in Canada

You may want to take it further from this by having a My Business Account (MBA) with the CRA. This process is ideal because the business account becomes a convenient and trusted way for your business to access its online account information with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Through this account, you can view updates on your basic business information, file your corporate tax, make online payments, and view your business account balance.

To open a business in Canada, follow the steps below:

  • Visit the webpage on how to open a My Business Account with the CRA.
  • Enter your Social Insurance Number as a means of validating your identity
  • Enter all required information such as postal or zip code, date of birth, benefit returns from the previous or current tax year, etc.
  • You will be required to receive a CRA security code to access My Business Account. Choose a delivery option and follow the steps to get the code.
  • Create your CRA user ID and password
  • Choose any five security questions and answer them.
  • Check the terms and conditions of using a My Business Account and select “I agree.”
  • Wait to receive your security code. Through this, you can log in to your now-registered My Business Account.
  • To have full access to the account, you must provide your Business Number as indicated.

FAQs About How To Register For A Business Number In Canada

Why do I Need a CRA Business Number? 

Ans. You need a Business Number to open some accounts with the CRA, such as a program account and a My Business Account. You also need it to incorporate business with certain provinces or territories in Canada.

Is my CRA Business Number the same as my GST Number?

Ans. No. Your Business Number is different from your GST/HST account number. The GST/HST number is only part of the Business Number. If you do not have a BN, you must apply for one when registering for a GST/HST account.

How can I find my BN Number?

Ans. If you forgot your BN or lost access to it, you can retrieve it by logging in to your CRA My Business Account if you have one. You will also find your Business Number on any correspondence or document that the CRA has issued you before regarding your business. You can also call CRA at (1-800-959-5525) to request the retrieval of your Business Number.

Is the CRA Business Number the same as the Ontario Business Number?

Ans. No. Both Business Numbers do not mean the same thing. For example, if you have a business in Ontario, Canada, you must have the province’s designated corporate Business Number. However, for any dealings your business has with the federal government of Canada, you are required to have a CRA Business Number.


In conclusion, businesses in Canada need a business number to operate legally. A few steps need to be taken to get this number, and once it is registered, businesses can start operating legally. Businesses should contact their local Chamber of Commerce or the Ministry of Industry for more information on how to register and get started.

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