What is a business number
The business number (BN) is a common client identifier for businesses to simplify their dealings with federal, provincial, and municipal governments. It is based on the idea of one business, one number. Each business requires one BN for its legal entity. A legal entity is defined as a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, trust or other organization. For more information on these legal entities, see Business structure.
A sole proprietor that operates more than one business needs only one BN. (If it is the same ownership type)
What is the difference between a business number (BN) and a Business Identification Number (BIN)
The BN is a 9-digit business identifier used in Canada to which businesses can register program accounts with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
This number should be used when communicating with the CRA about program accounts you have or wish to register for. For example, if you would like to discuss your GST/HST account or you would like to register for a payroll account, you should quote your BN.
The Business Identification Number (BIN) is a 9-digit number used by the Ontario Ministry of Government Services to identify provincial business accounts. It also appears on the Ontario Master Business Licence and should be used for communications with the Ontario government about your business.
Format of the BN
The BN is a nine digit business identifier. The program account number consists of three parts - the BN, the two letter program identifier and the four digit reference number. The entire program account number has 15 characters:
- Nine digit BN to identify the business; and
- Two letters and four digits to identify each account a business may have.
In this 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
Although you can register for several program accounts at one time, each type of program account requires very specific information and must be registered separately. So you should not assume that because you have a BN with a GST/HST account, you automatically have a payroll account. For more information on registering for a BN, see How to register and Business Number (BN) registration. For more information on program accounts, see Do you need a program account?
Different letters are used to identify types of program accounts.
Four major program accounts:
- RT - GST/HST
- RP - payroll
- RC - corporate income tax
- RM - import/export
Other program accounts:
- RR - registered charity
- RD - excise duty
- RE - excise tax
- RN - insurance premium tax
- RG - air travelers security charge
- RZ - Information Returns
When you contact us, or make a payment, it is important to provide all 15 characters. You should set up your computer systems, forms, and books and records to handle all 15 characters.
A business may also want to register with British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan,.
If your business operates in British Columbia, BRO can automatically transfer you to the OneStop Business Registry Web site to register for British Columbia programs.
To obtain information on how to do business in Manitoba, or to register for Manitoba program accounts, go to Manitoba programs.
To obtain information on how to do business in New Brunswick, or to register for New Brunswick program accounts, go to New Brunswick programs.
If your business operates in Nova Scotia, BRO can automatically transfer you to the Nova Scotia Business Registry (NSBR) Web site to complete the registration for Nova Scotia programs.
A business may also want to use Business Registration Online (BRO) to register its business name with Ontario. This means, in addition to the BN, the business will receive an Ontario BIN that must be used for Ontario Business Name renewals. Through BRO, the business will also be able to print its Ontario Master Business Licence (MBL).
Any information sent to BRO to apply for the Ontario accounts mentioned above will be forwarded to the Ontario Government for processing.
If your business operates in Quebec, BRO can automatically transfer you to the Revenu Québec Web site to register for Revenu Québec programs.
To obtain information on how to do business in Saskatchewan, or to register for Saskatchewan program accounts, go to Saskatchewan programs.
Forms and publications
- Pamphlet RC2, The Business Number and Your Canada Revenue Agency Program Accounts
- Form RC1, Request for a Business Number (BN)
- Form RC59, Business Consent Form
- Business Number (BN) registration
- Business Registration Online
- Business structure
- Canada Business Network
- Do you need a program account?
- How to register
- Industry Canada
- Provincial programs
- Related provincial and territorial government sites
- Converting the Filer Identification Number to the Business Number
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