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 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 business number and 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. For more information, go to Canada Revenue Agency registration and provincial or other federal programs.

Getting a business number as part of other registrations

You will get a business number if you:

  • register using Business Registration Online
  • 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
    • Manitoba
    • Nova Scotia
    • Ontario
    • Saskatchewan
    • New Brunswick
    • Prince Edward Island

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 Canada Revenue Agency 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 CRA 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 program account will be added to your business number. Your business will only ever have one 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 program account
  3. a 4-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:

business number:

  • 123456789

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 business number. 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 business number accounts if you do not need them for any other businesses that you operate. For more information, go to Corporation income tax program account.

Other CRA program accounts

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 CRA program accounts such as:

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