How to Register for a Business Number In Canada

Business Number makes it easier for your business to communicate with the federal or provincial government of Canada.

If you wish to own a business after immigrating to Canada, you will have to 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 means through which each business in Canada is identified by the government or other legal entities.

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 exact same identification information even when you register or fill your business information anywhere.

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

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 is going to be divided into three sections.

  • The first section is the 9 digit number that makes up your Business Number
  • 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 very important in Canada, it is not necessary for you to have 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 the federal, territorial, provincial, or municipal governments in Canada
  • 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, 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 certain processes such as changing the structure of your business or changing its 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 still 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 you dissolve one to start another, all will be registered under the same BN.

Business Number for Company or Corporation

How to Register for a Business Number In Canada

If your business grows and you need more hands, it means 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. You will have to transfer all assets and liabilities from sole proprietorship to corporation.

If you are starting your business from the scratch as a corporation, you will still require to apply for a new BN even if you have 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. 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 by 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, 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 completion of 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 just 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. For those who have their physical location of your business in Quebec, they 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 a step further from this by having a My Business Account (MyBA) 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 are able to do this such as view updates on your business basic information, file your corporate tax, and make online payments, and also 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 for access to My Business Account. Choose a delivery option for this and follow the steps to finally getting 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 have to provide your Business Number as indicated.


FAQs About How To Register For A Business Number In Canada

Q. 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.

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

Ans. No. your Business Number is not the same as your GST/HST account number. The GST/HST number is only part of the Business Number. If you don’t have a BN before, you will be required to apply for one when you register for a GST/HST account.

Q. 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 for retrieval of your Business Number.

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

Ans. No. Both Business Numbers do not mean the same thing. If you have a business in Ontario, Canada, you will be required to have the province’s designated or 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.