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: a unique, 9-digit number - the standard identifier for businesses. It is unique to a business or legal entity.
- CRA program accounts: 2 letters and 4 digits attached to a business number - used for specific business activities that must be reported to the CRA.
When you need a business number
You need a business number if you incorporate or need a CRA program account.
You might need a business number to interact with other federal, provincial, and municipal governments in Canada.
Getting a business number as part of other registrations
You will get a business number if you:
- 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
- Nova Scotia
- New Brunswick
- register using Business Registration Online (BRO)
When you need a new business number
If you already have a business number and you want to change the legal ownership or the structure of your business, you may have to register for a new business number. For more information, go to Changes to your business and CRA program accounts.
When you need CRA program accounts
Each CRA program account has its own rules and requirements about when you need to register.
The most common 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
Other CRA program accounts are described below.
Registering for a CRA program account will get you a business number if you don't already have one. If you already have a business number, the CRA program account will be added to your business number. Your business will only ever have 1 business number.
You can register online to get a business number and the most common CRA program accounts:
CRA program account numbers
A CRA program account number has three parts:
- the 9-digit business number to identify the business
- a 2-letter program identifier code to identify the CRA program account
- a 4-digit reference number to identify an individual CRA program account (since businesses can have more than one of the same kind)
A sole proprietorship needs a GST/HST program account if they need to charge GST/HST. If they have one or more employees they would need a payroll deductions program account. Once registered, the business will receive a:
- business number:
- GST/HST program account number:
123456789 RT 0001
- Payroll deductions program account number:
123456789 RP 0001
If the business later incorporates, they will need to register for a Corporation income tax account. That will be added to their existing business number:
- Corporation income tax account number:
123456789 RC 0001
A business that files information returns such as tax free savings account (TFSA), T5, T5013 and more, may also need the following business account:
Very few businesses need other program accounts, such as:
- 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
- Registered charity (RR) - For charity organizations
- Softwood lumber (SL) - For persons who export softwood lumber products
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