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:
    • Alberta
    • British Columbia
    • Manitoba
    • Nova Scotia
    • Ontario
    • Saskatchewan
    • New Brunswick
    • Prince Edward Island
  • 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:

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:

Example 1

Example 2

CRA program account numbers

Business number, 123456789. Program identifier, RP. Reference number, 0002.

A CRA program account number has three parts:

  1. the 9-digit business number to identify the business
  2. a 2-letter program identifier code to identify the CRA program account
  3. 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

Other CRA program accounts

Very few businesses need other program accounts, such as:

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