When you need a business number or Canada Revenue Agency program accounts
Certain business activities require a business number. You can register for:
- a business number (BN): a unique, nine-digit number and the standard identifier for businesses which is unique to a business or legal entity
- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program accounts: two letters and four digits attached to a BN and used for specific business activities that must be reported to the CRA
When you need a BN
You need a BN if you incorporate or need a CRA program account.
You might need a BN to interact with other federal, provincial, and municipal governments in Canada. For more information, go to Canada Revenue Agency registration and provincial or other federal programs.
Getting a BN as part of other registrations
You will get a BN if you:
- register using Business Registration Online (BRO)
- register for any CRA program accounts (like GST/HST, Payroll deductions, or Import-export)
- incorporate your business federally
- register or incorporate your business with these provinces:
- British Columbia
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
When you need a new BN
A business or legal entity can only have one BN. If you already have a BN and you want to change the legal ownership or the structure of your business, you may have to register for a new BN. For more information, go to Changes to your business and Canada Revenue Agency program accounts.
There is an exception in the case of a sole proprietor in bankruptcy. For more information, go to Bankruptcy – Business structures.
When you need CRA program accounts
Each CRA program account has its own rules and requirements about when you need to register.
Registering for a CRA program account will get you a BN if you don't already have one. If you already have a BN, the program account will be added to your BN. Your business will only ever have one BN.
The most common CRA program accounts a business may need are:
- GST/HST (RT), if your business collects GST/HST
- Payroll deductions (RP), if your business pays employees
- Corporation income tax (RC), if your business is incorporated
- Import-export (RM), if your business imports goods or sells goods or services abroad
- Information returns (RZ), if your business files information returns, such as tax-free savings account (TFSA), T5, T5013, and more
- Registered charity (RR), if your business is a charity organization
- Underused Housing Tax (RU), if your corporation files a Underused Housing Tax return for each of their properties in Canada. If you are not a corporation, you don't need the RU program account to file this return.
You can register online to get a BN and the most common CRA program accounts:
When you register for a BN using BRO, you will receive a new nine-digit BN. You must keep this new BN for your own records and future interactions with the CRA.
Other CRA program accounts are described below.
CRA program account numbers
A CRA program account number has three parts:
- the nine-digit BN to identify the business
- a two-letter program identifier code to identify the program account
- a four-digit reference number to identify an individual program account (since businesses can have more than one of the same kind)
You start a sole proprietorship. You need a GST/HST program account if you need to charge GST/HST. If you have one or more employees, you will also need a payroll deductions program account.
Once registered, your business will receive a:
GST/HST program account number:
- 123456789 RT 0001
Payroll deductions program account number:
- 123456789 RP 0001
If your business does not receive the information, you will need to check that the program accounts were registered properly. If your business needs to confirm their account number(s), you will need to contact the CRA.
If the business later incorporates, you will need to register for a new BN. This will generate an RC program account for corporation income tax and you will need to add other CRA program accounts that you require (RP, RT). You will then close the sole proprietor BN accounts if you do not need them for any other businesses that you operate. For more information, go to Corporation income tax program account.
- Fuel Charge (CT), for businesses that need to include a fuel charge on products
- Excise duty (RD), for businesses that need to charge excise duty on products
- Excise tax and special levies (RE), for businesses that need to charge excise tax on products
- Air travelers security charge (RG), for air carriers that charge the air travellers security charge
- Insurance premium tax (RN), for brokers and agents who place contracts of insurance
- Luxury tax (LT), for businesses that need to charge luxury tax on the sale or importation of select luxury items
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