RC2 – The Business Number and Your Canada Revenue Agency Program Accounts

RC2(E) Rev. 15

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Unless otherwise noted, all legislative references are to the Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations.

Table of contents

Before you start

Is this booklet for you?

This booklet will help you get a business number (BN) if you need one or more of the following Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program accounts:

  • goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST)(RT);
  • payroll deductions (RP);
  • import-export (RM); or
  • corporation income tax (RC).

What's new?

Online services for representatives

Representatives can now access the "Business Registration Online (BRO)" service directly through Represent a Client.

The business number

A business number (BN) allows the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to identify a specific business (or other organization such as a charity) for tax matters related to business in Canada. Having a BN lets businesses and other organizations simplify their dealings with each other, as well as with all levels of the public sector. The BN is based on the idea that each organization has one unique nine-digit number.

How a BN works

The 9-digit BN forms the root of the 15-character program account numbers that are also assigned by the CRA or by participating BN programs. The program account number is used to identify the programs and specific accounts used by a business.

A program account number has three parts:

  • a nine-digit BN to identify the business;
  • a two-letter program identifier, used to identify the program type; and
  • a four-digit reference number to identify each account a business may have within a program type.

For example:

Program account number
Business number (BN)Footnote 1 Program identifierFootnote 2 Reference numberFootnote 3
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R P 0 0 0 2

It is important to show which program account you want to access by providing the two-letter program identifier and the four-digit reference number with your BN. For example, when you make a payment, the money will go to the program account you designate using the two-letter program identifier and the four-digit reference number. This applies to any transaction on your program accounts—the two letters tell us which program account you want to access.

The four major program accounts registered by the CRA are:

  • goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) (RT);
  • payroll deductions (RP);
  • import-export (RM); or
  • corporation income tax (RC).

You can register your new business for all the major program accounts you need at the same time. If your business expands, you may need to open more program accounts. For instance, if you open offices in different cities across the country, you may have separate payroll offices in each city, and you will need more payroll deductions program accounts. Each payroll office will have the same BN and program identifier, but a different four-digit reference number. For this reason, you should set up your computer systems, forms, and records to handle all 15 characters of the program account number. Once you have a BN, more program accounts can be added easily.

Example

"Business X" wants to register with the CRA for a BN, one GST/HST account, and two payroll accounts. The business will receive a:

Business Number:
123456789
GST/HST program account:
123456789 RT 0001
1st payroll program account:
123456789 RP 0001
2nd payroll program account:
123456789 RP 0002

Note

There are other types of CRA program accounts that are not on Form RC1, Request for a Business Number. For example:

  • air travellers security charge (RG)
  • children's special allowances (RA)
  • excise duty (RD)
  • excise tax (RE)
  • information returns (RZ)
  • insurance premiums (RN)
  • registered charity (RR)
  • softwood lumber (SL).

For more information about program accounts, or to register for them, go to Registering your business and select "Do you need a program account?" or call 1-800-959-5525.

The CRA has forged partnerships and working relationships with Industry Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) and the following provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. These partnerships with the CRA allow a business to receive a BN by registering for either a provincial program or federal program.

You can register for provincial accounts for the provinces listed above through the province's website. For more information on how to register for programs with CRA's provincial partners, go to Provincial programs.

Who can get a BN

Each sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, trust, or other ownership type, will be assigned one BN when they register for a program account. One business, one number throughout Canada.

Note

If you do not need a program account, you do not need a business number. For example, a sole proprietor that has no employees, only sells product locally and is not legally required to get a GST/HST program account may not need to get a business number.

Organizations such as clubs, and charities, will also get a BN, if, for example, they have to register for GST/HST or claim a rebate. As well, a trustee or administrator of a registered retirement savings plan or a registered retirement income fund who has to open a payroll deductions program account will need a BN.

Note

If you change the legal structure of your business you will need a new BN. For example, if your unincorporated business becomes a corporation, or your partnership becomes a corporation, you will need a new BN. When such a change occurs, call 1-800-959-5525.

Before registering for a BN

Before registering for a BN, you should make decisions about the business you plan to operate. For example, you should know: the name of the business; the physical location and mailing address; the legal structure (such as, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or other ownership type); the fiscal year-end; the gross sales in Canada and worldwide sales.

In considering when to register, you should keep several factors in mind. One of these is your legal obligations. For example, when you register for GST/HST depends on the nature of your business and its sales. You should also consider the advantages of registering, such as the ability to claim input tax credits for the GST/HST you pay on your business's start-up expenses. Opening an import-export program account before you are ready to import or export goods into Canada will avoid delays at the port of entry. You should open a payroll deductions program account as soon as you know when you will have employees so that you can make regular deductions for them and remit tax and other amounts on time.

Opening CRA program accounts is the first step in a process that requires you to remit tax and other amounts, file returns, and meet other obligations. For this reason, you should open your CRA program accounts when you are close to starting your operations.

Note

If you are a sole proprietor or a partner in a partnership, you will continue to use your social insurance number (SIN) to file your individual income tax return, even though you may have a BN for your GST/HST, payroll deductions, and import-export program accounts.

How to register for a BN

You can register for a BN and your CRA program accounts in any of the following ways:

  • online;
  • by telephone;
  • by mail; or
  • by fax.

Registering electronically through Business Registration Online (BRO) has many benefits:

One-stop service – This integrated online service lets you register for key CRA program accounts and some provincial accounts at the same time. This saves time and duplicated effort.

Convenient – Service is available from your home and office anywhere in Canada well outside normal business hours, and on Saturdays.

Easy-to-use – Questions guide you through the registration process. Helpful features such as pop-up messages are displayed when missing or incorrect information is entered.

Secure – State-of-the-art encryption and security procedures allow you to follow steps that further protect your private information.

To register online or to find out more about online registration, go to Business Registration Online.

If you are registering by telephone, call us at 1-800-959-5525 and be ready to answer all the questions in Part A of Form RC1, Request for a Business Number, and any other questions in the rest of the form that relate to the program accounts you want to open.

If you are registering by mail or by fax, fill in Form RC1. To get the address of the tax centre closest to you, go to Tax Centres.

If you are a selected listed financial institution (SLFI) requesting a business number for GST/HST and QST purposes, or QST purposes, fill in Form RC7301, Request for a Business Number for Certain Selected Listed Financial Institutions, and send it to the Summerside Tax Centre.

Doing business in Quebec

If your business is in Quebec, a BN includes your GST/HST program accounts. Revenu Québec administers the GST/HST for the CRA, unless the person is an SLFI for GST/HST or QST purposes or both.

For more information on how to contact Revenu Québec, go to General Information – Businesses or send a written request to the following address:

Direction principale des relations avec la clientèle des entreprises
Revenu Québec
3800, rue de Marly
Québec QC  G1X 4A5
Telephone: 1-800-567-4692
Persons with a hearing impairment: 1-800-361-3795

If you register for a GST/HST program account with Revenu Québec, before you register for a BN with the CRA, we will use the BN you are given when you receive your GST/HST program account number.

If you open a GST/HST program account after you register for a BN with the CRA, please provide Revenu Québec with your existing BN so that they may add the GST/HST program account number to it.

Note

To register for your other program accounts, (for example, payroll deductions, import-export, and corporation income tax), or if you are an SLFI for GST/HST or QST purposes or both, you can register:

For more information, including the definition of an SLFI for GST/HST and QST purposes, go to Financial institutions.

Completing Form RC1, Request for a Business Number

If you decide you need a BN but are not registering online, you will have to fill in Form RC1, Request for a Business Number. The following information will help you decide which program accounts you need and help you fill in the form.

Do not use Form RC1 or RC1A if all of the following apply:

  • you are an SLFI for GST/HST purposes or QST purposes, or both; and
  • you want to register for GST/HST and QST purposes or you want to register for QST purposes.

Instead, use Form RC7301, Request for a Business Number for Certain Selected Listed Financial Institutions or RC7301A, Business Number – GST/HST Program Account Information and QST Registration for Selected Listed Financial Institutions. For more information, including the definition of an SLFI for GST/HST and QST purposes, go to Financial institutions.

Note

If you are an SLFI, use these forms to register for the GST/HST unless you are making or joining a consolidated filing election. If you are making a consolidated filing election, fill in Form RC4602, Request for a Group GST/HST Registration Number for Selected Listed Financial Institutions with Consolidated Filing or if you are making an election to join a consolidated filing election, fill in Form RC4602-1, Request to be Added to a Group GST/HST Registration for Selected Listed Financial Institutions with Consolidated Filing.

There are six parts to the RC1:

All businesses must fill in parts A1 to A5 and sign the certification in Part F. You will also have to fill in parts B, C, D, or E of the form depending on the type of program accounts you need to open.

Some of the other types of CRA program accounts have their own request forms. For example, when requesting an information return program account (RZ), you must fill in Part A and Part F of Form RC1 and fill in Form RC257, Request for an Information Return Program Account (RZ). You submit both forms together, if you do not have a business number.

Direct deposit is available for most program accounts. To use this option, fill in Form RC366, Direct Deposit Request for Businesses. For more information, see Direct deposit.

Part A – General business information

Part A helps identify your business and the nature of its activities.

Part A1 – Ownership type and operation type

This section is used to indicate the type of business you will operate and the ownership type. All corporations have to provide a copy of the certificate of incorporation or amalgamation or fill in Part E2 providing their certificate number, date of incorporation or date of amalgamation and jurisdiction (federal, provincial, or foreign). If your business does not match any of the ownership types listed, choose "Other" and describe your business.

Choose the operation type that best describes the type of business you have. If none apply, leave this section blank.

Note

If you are a non-resident corporation that has incorporated outside of Canada, you must provide us with a copy of your certificate of incorporation or amalgamation before we can assign you a BN. You must also provide us with documentation regarding any amendments that may have taken place.

Part A2 – Owners information

Enter the information for all individual owners, partners, corporation directors, or officers of the business. If you need more space than the form provides, add a separate sheet with the information. This part will let us know who owns the business and who may provide authorization to a representative to communicate for the business.

Note

Giving a social insurance number is mandatory only for individuals (sole proprietors) applying for a GST/HST program account (Social Insurance Number Disclosure Regulations and the Excise Tax Act). All owners who provide their social insurance number can register for the My Business Account service to access and manage their BN program account information online. To register, go to My Business Account.

Contact person

For registration purposes, you must provide a contact person. A contact person can be anyone in the business and does not necessarily need to be an authorized representative or delegated authority. The reason we need this information is so that we know who to contact if we need to clarify the information provided on the form or to ask for more information.

Note

The role or title of contact person is different from an authorized representative or a delegated authority. A contact person does not have authority unless they are also an authorized representative or a delegated authority. If a contact person does not have authority on the business number program account, they cannot change information and we cannot share information with them. If you want to authorize a representative to deal with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about your BN program accounts, see Authorizing online access for employees and representatives.

Part A3 – Business information

Give the name that the business will use during its operation as well as its physical location, mailing address, and the address where you keep the business records. Enter an operating or trading name of the business, if applicable, and your choice of language for correspondence.

Your business name (legal name) and operating or trade name may be different. For example, you are a sole proprietor and your name is John Smith, and you advertise your business as ABC Framing. In this case, your legal name is John Smith and your operating name is ABC Framing. The same unique business number identifies both names for your business.

Your program account name is different from the legal and trade names. In most cases, each program account can have its own program account name to help distinguish between program accounts such as RT0001, RT0002, and RT0003. For example, your RT0001 account name could be head office, other accounts could have branch names, or divisional accounts (such as Central Office Account, Administration Account, or Western Division) that operate under the same legal name or trade name.

Part A4 – Major business activity

Enter your major business activity, and give as much detail as possible. You have to list the products and services you will sell and estimate the percentage of revenues each product or service represents. For example, a new art store may estimate revenues of 60% for framed paintings (including original works and prints), 30% for framing services, and 10% for art supplies.

Note

If you are a financial institution, also indicate if you are a listed financial institution or a selected listed financial institution for GST/HST purposes resident in Canada. 

Part A5 – GST/HST information

All businesses have to fill in Part A5. If you need a GST/HST program account, also fill in Part B of the form.

If your business is in Quebec, see Doing business in Quebec.

Note

There may be circumstances where you have to determine whether you are self-employed or an employee before registering for the GST/HST. For example, a real estate agent who earns a commission for sales while working for a real estate agency may be an employee and not have to register. A quick test would be to determine whether an employer withholds payroll deductions. If you are not sure whether you are an employee or self-employed, see Guide RC4110, Employee or Self-employed? or call 1-800-959-5525.

Before you fill in this section of the form, you need to know basic information about your obligations and entitlements for the GST/HST.

GST/HST rates and exemptions

Most businesses that sell or provide taxable property and services in Canada need a GST/HST program account number. Taxable property and services are property and services that are taxable at 5% GST, 13%, 14%, or 15% HST (depending on the province), or 0% (zero-rated property and services). This does not include supplies of property and services that are exempt.

Property and services taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, or 15%

If you are a GST/HST registrant and you supply property and services in Canada that are taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, or 15%, you have to charge GST/HST to your clients. You may also claim input tax credits to recover the GST/HST you pay or owe on property and services you consume, use, or supply in your commercial activities.

Examples of property and services taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, or 15% include:

  • commercial space (sales and leases);
  • automobiles (sales and leases);
  • gasoline;
  • clothing and footwear;
  • legal and accounting services;
  • hotel accommodation; and
  • advertising.
Zero-rated (0%) property and services

If you are a GST/HST registrant and you provide zero-rated property and services, you do not charge the GST/HST to your clients but you can claim input tax credits.

Zero-rated property and services include:

  • basic groceries such as milk, bread, and vegetables;
  • certain prescription drugs and medical devices;
  • most farm products and livestock;
  • most fishery products; and
  • exports (most property and services taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, or 15% in Canada are zero-rated when exported).
Exempt property and services

When you provide exempt property and services, you do not charge the GST/HST to your clients and you cannot claim input tax credits. In general, when you provide only exempt property and services, you cannot register for the GST/HST.

Examples of exempt property and services include:

  • long-term residential rents of one month or more, and residential condominium fees;
  • day-care services provided mainly to children 14 years old and younger;
  • most medical and dental services;
  • most financial services; and
  • legal aid services.

Do you have to register for the GST/HST?

You must register for the GST/HST if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You are an operator of a taxi or limousine service or you are a self-employed independent taxi or limousine driver (regardless of your revenues).
  • You make taxable supplies in Canada in the course of a commercial activity in Canada (if you are a non-resident, you must be carrying on business in Canada), and you are not a small supplier. In general, you are not a small supplier if your total revenues (and those of your associates) from worldwide supplies of taxable property and services (other than supplies of financial services, sales of capital property, and goodwill from the sale of a business) were more than $30,000 in your last four consecutive calendar quarters or in any calendar quarter. If you are a public service body (charity, non-profit organization, municipality, public college, university, school authority, or hospital authority), this small supplier limit is $50,000. See Special rules for charities and public institutions. For more information on how to calculate the $30,000 or $50,000 limit, see the Small supplier calculation.
  • You are a non-resident who enters Canada to make taxable supplies of admissions (the admissions are not made by a resident promoter or ticket agent) to a place of amusement or a seminar, an activity or an event held in Canada, even if you are a small supplier. This rule does not apply to a non-resident sponsor who supplies admissions to a foreign convention in which at least 75% of the attendees are non-residents of Canada.
  • You solicit orders in Canada for prescribed goods to be sent by mail or courier to a recipient at an address in Canada, and you are not a small supplier. Prescribed goods include printed materials such as books, newspapers, periodicals, and magazines, and audio recordings that relate to these publications and that accompany the publications when they are sent to Canada.
  • You are a selected listed financial institution (SLFI) that is making a reporting entity, consolidated filing or tax adjustment transfer election. For more information see GST/HST Notice 265, GST/HST Registration for Listed Financial Institutions (Including Selected Listed Financial Institutions).

Generally, you do not have to register for GST/HST if:

  • you are a small supplier;
  • your only commercial activity is the sale of real property other than in the course of a business; or
  • you are a non-resident person who does not carry on any business in Canada.

For more information, see Guide RC4022, General Information for GST/HST Registrants.

Voluntary registration

If you are not required to register for GST/HST purposes, you can register voluntarily. To do so, you must make taxable supplies of property and services in Canada in the course of a commercial activity. You may want to register voluntarily for the following reasons:

  • You want to claim input tax credits to recover the GST/HST you pay or owe on your business purchases.
  • You are starting your business activities and you want to register before you exceed the small supplier limit of $30,000 or $50,000 for a public service body.
  • Your clients only do business with businesses that are registered for GST/HST purposes.

If you decide to register voluntarily, you have to charge, collect, and remit the GST/HST on your supplies of property and services made in Canada that are taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, or 15%. The application of GST/HST to your supplies depends on when you register or are required to be registered. The rate you apply depends on the province or provinces where the supplies are made. You will also have to file GST/HST returns regularly. For more information on rates, see GST/HST rates and exemptions.

Note

If you decide to register voluntarily, you have to stay registered for at least one year before you can cancel your registration (unless you decide to close your business or you stop your commercial activities).

Small supplier calculation

In your calculation to determine if you are a small supplier, you have to include your revenues from your worldwide supplies of property and services that are taxable at 5%, 13%, 14%, 15%, and 0% (zero-rated property or services). You also include such revenues of all your associates. You exclude revenues from supplies of financial services, goodwill, and sales of capital property. For more information on small suppliers, see GST/HST Memorandum 2.2, Small suppliers.

The following examples explain how to calculate the limit to determine if you are a small supplier.

Example 1

You started your business in January 2014 and made the following taxable supplies throughout that year:

First quarter (January to March)

$2,000

Second quarter (April to June)

$10,000

Third quarter (July to September)

$12,000

Fourth quarter (October to December)

$5,000

Total

$29,000

Because you did not exceed the $30,000 limit in the four consecutive calendar quarters or any calendar quarter, you are considered a small supplier throughout 2014, the first quarter of 2015, and the month of April 2015. At the end of every quarter, you have to make the same calculation to determine if you are still a small supplier.

Example 2

This example shows what happens when you exceed the $30,000 limit over four consecutive calendar quarters and you are not a public service body.

First quarter (April 2014 to June 2014)

$2,000

Second quarter (July 2014 to September 2014)

$10,000

Third quarter (October 2014 to December 2014)

$12,000

Fourth quarter (January 2015 to March 2015)

$8,000

Total

$32,000

Because you exceeded the $30,000 limit over the last four consecutive calendar quarters, but not in one calendar quarter, you stop being a small supplier at the end of the following month. You will be a small supplier until April 30, 2015. Any taxable supply you make on or after May 1, 2015, is subject to the GST/HST. Therefore, if your first taxable supply in Canada is made on May 2, 2015, you must apply to be registered for GST/HST purposes before June 1, 2015, (that is, before the day that is 30 days after you made that first taxable supply in Canada otherwise than as a small supplier). Your effective date of registration will be May 2, 2015.

Example 3

This example explains what happens if you exceed the $30,000 limit in a single calendar quarter and you are not a public service body.

First quarter (January to March)

$2,000

Second quarter (April to June)

$10,000

Third quarter (July to September)

$38,000

Because you had $38,000 from taxable supplies in the third quarter alone, this means that you exceeded the $30,000 limit in a single calendar quarter. In this case, you stop being a small supplier just before making the taxable supply that resulted in you exceeding the $30,000 limit. You have to charge the GST/HST on that taxable supply (unless it is a zero-rated supply), even if you are not yet registered. You have 30 days after the day you made that taxable supply to register for a GST/HST program account. In this particular case, if you made the taxable supply on September 23, you have until October 22 to register.

Other cases for voluntary registration

You might also be able to register voluntarily if you are in one of the following situations:

  • You are a non-resident who carries on business outside Canada and you regularly solicit orders for goods to be delivered in or exported to Canada.
  • You are a non-resident who, in the ordinary course of carrying on business outside Canada, enters into an agreement to perform services in Canada, or to supply intangible personal property to be used in Canada or that relates to:
    • real property situated in Canada;
    • goods situated in Canada; or
    • services to be performed in Canada.
  • You are a listed financial institution and you are a resident of Canada.
  • You are a corporation resident in Canada, and you:
    • own shares or hold debts of a related corporation; or
    • are acquiring or are proposing to acquire at least 90% of the issued and outstanding shares of another corporation, having full voting rights under all circumstances.

      Note
      In either scenario, 90% or more of the property of the other corporation for the purposes of section 186 of the Excise Tax Act must have been acquired or imported by that corporation for consumption, use or supply exclusively in its commercial activities.

  • You are a corporation resident in Canada that satisfies the definition of "temporary member" in subsection 156(1) of the Excise Tax Act for the purposes of the election for nil consideration, except that you are not a registrant.

Special rules for charities and public institutions

A charity is a registered charity or a registered Canadian amateur athletic association under the Income Tax Act, but does not include a public institution. A public institution is a registered charity that is also a school authority, public college, university, hospital authority, or local authority determined to be a municipality. Charities and public institutions may qualify as small suppliers if they meet either of the following tests:

  • the $50,000 taxable supplies test; or
  • the $250,000 gross revenue test.

For more information on these two tests, see Guide RC4082, GST/HST Information for Charities. For more information on public institutions, see GST/HST Info Sheet GI‑068, Basic GST/HST Guidelines for Public Institutions.

Non-resident security

In general, non-residents who do not have a permanent establishment in Canada and who register for the GST/HST have to provide security. For more information on security, see Guide RC4027, Doing Business in Canada – GST/HST Information for Non-Residents.

Part B – Registering for a GST/HST program account (RT)

If, after completing Part A5, you determine that you have to register for the GST/HST or if you want to register voluntarily, fill in Part B of the form.

Note

More information must be provided if the effective date of registration for GST/HST purposes indicated below is more than 30 days before the date of application for registration. Usually, you must provide:

  • sale invoices or other documents proving that the business began charging the GST/HST on the effective date entered on this form if you are voluntarily registering for the GST/HST; or
  • a document (a balance sheet, financial statement or information slip) proving that the business is required to register for GST/HST because its taxable supplies, including zero-rated supplies, exceeded $30,000 (or $50,000 for a public service body) over the last four calendar quarters or in a single calendar quarter.

Part B2 – Filing information

In the first section of Part B2, enter the total amount of your sales and other revenues from taxable supplies of property and services you made in Canada in your previous fiscal year, including those of your associates. Do not include zero-rated exports and financial services, taxable sales of capital real property, or goodwill. If you don't have any sales or other revenue, enter $0. If you need help to determine if you are associated to another person, call 1-800-959-5525.

In the second section of Part B2, enter the total amount of your sales and other revenues from worldwide taxable supplies of property and services you made in your last four consecutive calendar quarters, including those of your associates. However, if such sales and other revenues exceed $30,000 (or $50,000 for a public service body) in a single calendar quarter, enter that amount for the single calendar quarter in the second section. Your total revenues from worldwide taxable supplies (and those of your associates) determine whether you have to be registered, while the total revenues from your taxable supplies (and those of your associates) made in Canada will determine your reporting periods and how frequently you have to file your GST/HST returns.

Enter your fiscal year-end in the third section of Part B2.

  • For a sole proprietorship or a partnership, a fiscal year for GST/HST purposes generally ends on December 31 unless the business is eligible to elect to use a different date during the calendar year.
  • For a corporation, the fiscal year for GST/HST purposes is the corporation's tax year. If a corporation has a non-calendar tax year, it can elect to use a calendar year as its GST/HST fiscal year. If the corporation's tax year-end has not been determined, we will enter December 31.
  • For an SLFI that is an investment plan or a segregated fund of an insurer, the fiscal year for GST/HST purposes generally ends on December 31.

To change the fiscal year-end of your business for GST/HST purposes, answer yes to the question in the fourth section of Part B2 and enter the new fiscal year-end date you would like to use.

After you open your GST/HST program account, you may be eligible to change your GST/HST fiscal year-end by filing Form GST70, Election or Revocation of an Election to Change a GST/HST Fiscal Year or by using the "File an election" online service at My Business Account. An authorized representative can access the online service at Represent a Client.

Enter the effective date of registration in the last section of Part B2. The effective date of registration for the GST/HST is important because it helps set up your reporting requirements, and it establishes the date that you become both liable to collect the GST/HST and eligible to claim input tax credits.

If you register on a voluntary basis, you can leave this section blank and the effective date of registration will be the date the application is received by the CRA. However, the CRA will accept an earlier effective date, as long as the date is within 30 days of the date when the application for registration was made, regardless of the method of registration (online, telephone, or paper). You can also choose a later date (for example, if you have not yet set up your business).

If you have to register for the GST/HST, your effective date of registration is the date you make your first taxable supply other than as a small supplier.

  1. If, during the four most recent consecutive calendar quarters, your revenues from worldwide GST/HST taxable supplies of property and services (and those of your associates), are more than $30,000 (or $50,000 if you are a public service body), your effective date of registration is the date you make your first taxable supply in Canada after the month following the calendar quarter in which your revenues from taxable supplies were more than $30,000 (or $50,000).

    Example
    Suppose your revenues from taxable supplies throughout the four consecutive calendar quarters ending on December 31, 2014, were more than $30,000 (or $50,000 for a public service body) on December 10, 2014. You then make taxable supplies (in Canada) on January 15, 2015, and February 10, 2015. Your effective date of registration would be February 10, 2015.

  2. If, in any calendar quarter, your revenues from worldwide GST/HST taxable supplies of property and services (and those of your associates) are more than $30,000 (or $50,000 if you are a public service body), either as a result of one supply or cumulative supplies in the same calendar quarter, your effective date of registration will generally be the date the transaction occurred that made your revenues from taxable supplies exceed $30,000 (or $50,000).

    Example
    If your revenues from taxable supplies were more than $30,000 (or $50,000 for a public service body) in a calendar quarter and you made the taxable supply that put you over $30,000 (or $50,000) on November 10, 2014, your effective date of registration would be November 10, 2014.

Depending on your situation, you may have to register for the GST/HST regardless of the total amount of revenue from your GST/HST taxable supplies of property and services. If you are an operator of a taxi or limousine service, your effective date of registration is the date you began to operate the service. For non-residents who charge admission directly to audiences, the effective date of registration is the first date an admission is charged. For an SLFI that is making a reporting entity, consolidated filing or tax adjustment transfer election, the effective date of registration is the first day one of these elections is in effect.

Part B3 – Reporting period

We will assign you a reporting period based on your total amount of revenues from your GST/HST taxable supplies of property and services made in Canada (including those of your associates) for the preceding year. In general, this amount determines how often you will have to file your GST/HST returns. In calculating this amount, do not include revenues from zero-rated exports and financial services, taxable sales of capital real property, or goodwill.

The following chart shows the assigned reporting periods based on your revenues and the options available. If you want to change your assigned period, fill in the "Options" section in Part B3, or call 1-800-959-5525.

Assigned reporting periods and options available
Total annual GST/HST taxable supplies in Canada (including those of your associates) Reporting period assigned to you, unless you choose to change it (see next column) Reporting period options
More than $6,000,000 Monthly No option
More than $1,500,000 up to $6,000,000 Quarterly Monthly
$1,500,000 or less Annual Monthly or quarterly
Charities Annual Monthly or quarterly
Listed financial institutions Annual Monthly or quarterly Footnote 1

We assign an annual reporting period to most listed financial institutions and to charities, regardless of their revenues.

For more information on changing your reporting period, see the general information section of Form GST20, Election for GST/HST Reporting Period.

Part C – Registering for a payroll deductions program account (RP)

Most employers, trustees, and administrators need a payroll deductions program account.

Employers

You are an employer if you:

  • pay a salary, wages (including advances), bonuses, vacation pay, or tips to your employees; or
  • provide a benefit, such as board and lodging, to your employees.

Usually, a person who performs services for you is your employee (engaged under a contract of service). Generally, an employer-employee relationship exists if you have the right to control and direct the person or people who perform the services for you. If you are not sure whether someone is your employee, see Guide RC4110, Employee or Self-employed? or call 1-800-959-5525.

Persons paying for services performed in Canada

If you are paying amounts to a non-resident for services performed in Canada of an independent nature, you need a payroll deductions program account to deduct and remit withholding taxes as well as report the payment.

Trustees and administrators

If you are a trustee or an administrator (for example, of a registered retirement savings plan or a registered retirement income fund), you need a payroll deductions program account to deduct and remit income tax. This applies if you:

  • administer, manage, distribute, wind up, control, or otherwise deal with the property, business, estate, or income of another person; and
  • authorize or cause a payment to be made for that other person who performs a function similar to the one a trustee performs.

A trustee includes a liquidator, receiver, receiver-manager, trustee in bankruptcy, assignee, executor, administrator, sequestrator, or any other person who performs a function similar to that of a trustee.

As soon as you become an employer, trustee, or administrator, you need a payroll deductions program account. You will have to open the program account before the first remittance date, which falls on the 15th day of the month after the month in which you become an employer, trustee, or administrator.

Part D – Registering for an import-export program account (RM)

If your business will be importing commercial shipments from a foreign country, or exporting commercial goods to other countries, you must register for an import-export program account. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will use the import-export program account number to process customs documents. To avoid delays in releasing your goods at the border, open your program account before you import or export goods.

When you fill in Part D of the Form RC1, Request for a Business Number, include all business names that may appear on customs release forms and documents such as commercial invoices. These names could be the legal entity or common trading name. If the name on the customs release document is different from the names that appear in your BN account, your goods may be held up at the border. Fill in a separate form for each branch or division of your corporation that requires an import-export program account for commercial purposes.

When two or more corporations amalgamate to create a new corporation, a new BN may be issued to the new corporation. Any import-export program accounts you had for the amalgamated corporations will be closed at once. Certain privileges such as the Frequent Import Release System (FIRST) and the Pre-Arrival Release System (PARS) linked to your previous BN may need to be reviewed.

Part E – Registering for a corporation income tax program account (RC)

Fill in Part E of the form if you register your corporation in a province or territory that is not a partner with the CRA (namely: Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon). You will automatically receive a BN and a corporation income tax program account if you incorporate federally or provincially through the CRA partnering provinces (namely: British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan).

When you register for a corporation income tax program account, you must provide a copy of the certificate of incorporation or amalgamation or fill in Part E2 and provide your certificate number, date of incorporation or date of amalgamation. You must also provide your jurisdiction (federal, provincial, or foreign) in Part E3. If you need your BN before you receive confirmation that we have opened your corporation income tax program account, call 1-800-959-5525.

Note

If you are a non-resident corporation that has incorporated outside of Canada, you must provide us with a copy of your certificate of incorporation or amalgamation before we can assign you a BN. You must also provide us with documentation regarding any amendments that may have taken place.

Part F – Certification

All businesses must fill in and sign this part in order for the form to be processed. Please note that the social insurance number (SIN) is mandatory for individuals (sole proprietors) applying to register for a GST/HST program account (Social Insurance Number Disclosure Regulations, Excise Tax Act). Provide the name and SIN of one of the following: owner, partner or corporate director. After you register your CRA program account we may contact you to confirm the information you provided. At that time we may ask you to provide more information. We can serve you better when you have complete and valid information on file for your business.

After you register

If you register by mail, the CRA will send you a letter confirming your BN, the program accounts you registered, and a summary of the information you provided. If you register by telephone or online you will be provided with your BN, and the registered program accounts. If you need a summary of accounts you may view your business account information online at My Business Account, or call us at 1-800-959-5525.

We may contact you to confirm the information you provided or to ask you to provide more information. Having complete and valid information on file for your business allows us to serve you better.

GST/HST

If you need more information about your new GST/HST program account, you can get Guide RC4022, General Information for GST/HST Registrants, at GST/HST related forms and publications. This guide explains how the GST/HST works.

Payroll

If you need more information about your new payroll deductions program account, you can get Guide T4001, Employer's Guide – Payroll Deductions and Remittances, at Forms and publications. This guide contains details about income tax deductions, Canada Pension Plan contributions, Quebec Pension Plan contributions, and employment insurance premiums that employers, trustees, and administrators have to deduct and remit.

We encourage you to use the Payroll Deductions Online Calculator (PDOC), or the electronic versions of the following publications:

Note

If you open a payroll deductions program account and are then delayed in hiring your employees, you should notify us. Otherwise, you will receive a notice asking for your first payment. You may provide a nil remittance online at My Business Account. For more information about this service, see Handling business taxes online.

Import-export

If you need more information on importing and exporting, see the Canada Border Services Agency website's Exporters page at Exporters, or the Importers page at Information for Importers.

Corporation income tax

If you want to incorporate your business provincially or territorially, you should contact your provincial or territorial incorporating authority. If you want to incorporate federally, contact Corporations Canada; a division of Industry Canada. For more information on Corporations Canada, go to Industry Canada, Corporations Canada.

When you incorporate in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, or through Corporations Canada, your business will automatically be registered for a BN and a corporation income tax program account.

If your business is federally, provincially, or territorially incorporated, or if you are a non-resident corporation operating in Canada, you have to file Form T2, Corporation Income Tax Return. Corporations that we consider to be registered charities are the only exception. You must file the Corporation Income Tax Return within six months of the end of each tax year.

The tax year of a corporation is its fiscal period. Generally, corporations have to pay their taxes in monthly instalment payments or quarterly instalment payments. If you need help calculating your tax instalments, you can use the "Instalment payment calculator" service at My Business Account, or go to Corporations for information.

For more information, see Guide T4012, T2 Corporation – Income Tax Guide and Guide T7B – CORP, Corporation Instalment Guide.

Accessing your BN program account information online

You can access your business number program account information online through My Business Account, and use our wide range of services.

All owners who provide their social insurance number are eligible to register for My Business Account and take advantage of the services. For more information about the growing list of services available in My Business Account, go to My Business Account and under topics, select "What can I do on My Business Account?"

Authorized employees and representatives can access most of these services by registering with Represent a Client. For a complete list of services and their options, select either the "List of services for representatives of individuals" or the "List of services for representatives of businesses" from the "Topics" menu on the Represent a Client webpage.

Authorizing your representatives (including your employees)

If you want others to have online access to tax-related information and services related to your business accounts, they must first register with Represent a Client and then give you their representative identifier (RepID), group identifier (GroupID), or BN. With this information, you can authorize a representative  by using either the "Authorize or manage representatives" online service in My Business Account or you can fill in Form RC59, Business Consent, and send it to us. In both cases you may assign levels of access to your tax related business information. Based on the assigned level, your representative will have access to your information by telephone and in writing and may have access online. The representative can also request an authorization online through "Represent a Client." For more information, go to Represent a Client.

Changing owners, partners, directors, and officers of a non-profit organization

Whenever one of the owners or directors of your business changes, it is important that you let the CRA know. You can send a copy of official documentation showing the change of owners or directors either by fax or by mail to your tax centre. If we need more information before updating our system, we will contact you.

Depending on the structure of your business, a change of owner or partner could require a legal name change or the registration of a new BN and new CRA program accounts.

All owners, partners, directors, and officers of a non-profit organization who provide their social insurance number are eligible to register and take advantage of the online services in My Business Account.

Online services

My Account

Using the CRA's My Account service is a fast, easy, and secure way to access and manage your tax and benefit information online, seven days a week.

To log in to My Account, you can use either your CRA user ID and password or the Sign-in Partner option.

An authorized representative can access most of these online services through Represent a Client.

For more information, go to My Account for Individuals.

Handling business taxes online

Save time using the CRA's online services for businesses. You can:

  • authorize a representative, an employee, or a group of employees, who has registered with Represent a Client, for online access to your business accounts;
  • request or delete authorization online through Represent a Client, if you are a representative;
  • change mailing and physical addresses, as well as the address where you keep your books and records;
  • file a return electronically without a web access code;
  • register for online mail, get email notifications, and view your mail online;
  • enrol for direct deposit, update banking information, and view direct deposit transactions;
  • authorize the withdrawal of a pre-determined amount from your bank account;
  • request additional remittance vouchers;
  • transfer payments and immediately view updated balances;
  • add another business to your profile;
  • view answers to common enquiries, and if needed, submit account-related enquiries;
  • view the account balance and instalment balance, including the corresponding transactions (for example, payments); and
  • do much more.

To register or log in to our online services, go to:

For more information, go to E-services for Businesses.

Authorizing online access for employees and representatives

You can authorize your employees and representatives to have online access to your business accounts. First, they have to register at Represent a Client and give you their representative identifier (RepID) or their business number.

Then, to give them online access to your business accounts, you can:

You can do one authorization for a group of employees. For more information, go to Represent a Client.

Representatives – Requesting or deleting authorizations online

Representatives can use online services to:

  • send an authorization request to get access to their client's business accounts; and
  • delete the authorization of a client that they no longer represent.

Simply go to Represent a Client.

Electronic payments

Make your payment using:

For more information on all payment options, go to Make a payment.

For more information

What if you need help?

If you need more information after reading this publication, visit the CRA website or call 1-800-959-5525.

Direct deposit

Direct deposit is a faster, more convenient, reliable, and secure way to get your refunds and rebates deposited directly into your account at a financial institution in Canada.

You can choose to have all amounts deposited into one account or to have refunds and rebates from different programs deposited into different accounts.

To start direct deposit or to change the banking information you have already given us, complete Form RC366, Direct Deposit Request for Businesses, and send it to your tax centre.

You can view your direct deposit information and online transactions at My Business Account.

For more information, go to Direct deposit.

Forms and publications

To get our forms and publications, go to Forms and publications or call 1-800-959-5525.

Electronic mailing lists

We can notify you by email when new information on a subject of interest to you is available on our website. To subscribe to our electronic mailing lists, go to Electronic mailing lists.

Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS)

For personal and general tax information by telephone, use our automated service, TIPS, by calling 1-800-267-6999.

Teletypewriter (TTY) users

TTY users can call 1-800-665-0354 for bilingual assistance during regular business hours.

Service complaints

You can expect to be treated fairly under clear and established rules, and get a high level of service each time you deal with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA); see the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

If you are not satisfied with the service you received, try to resolve the matter with the CRA employee you have been dealing with or call the telephone number provided in the CRA's correspondence. If you do not have contact information, go to Contact information.

If you still disagree with the way your concerns were addressed, you can ask to discuss the matter with the employee's supervisor.

If you are still not satisfied, you can file a service complaint by filling out Form RC193, Service-Related Complaint.

If the CRA has not resolved your service-related complaint, you can submit a complaint with the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman.

For more information, go to Service complaints or see Booklet RC4420, Information on CRA – Service Complaints.

Reprisal complaint

If you believe that you have experienced reprisal, fill out Form RC459, Reprisal Complaint.

For more information about reprisal complaints, go to Reprisal Complaints.

Tax information videos

We have a number of tax information videos for small businesses on topics such as business income and expenses, GST/HST, and payroll. To watch our videos, go to Video gallery.

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