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Business Numbers: Learning the Basics

As a small business, we understand that navigating all the ins and outs of registration requirements can be confusing. In this post, we will go over why you need a business number.

What is a business number?

A business number identifies your business to federal, provincial and municipal governments. This number allows you to enroll in programs with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Each program will result in a different sub-account of the business number. These programs include:

  • Payroll,
  • GST/HST,
  • Import/export
  • Corporate reporting.

You may be wondering how to tell the difference between this number and a business license number or provincial business identification number. You can easily identify federal business numbers as they start with a 1, 7 or an 8 and are nine digits long.

Also, a federal business number is a requirement for creating a Chit Chats returns account.

What if I need to Import/Export Goods?

The business number is the master number used for Canadian business activity. However, if your business imports commercial goods you must register for the CRA’s import/export program. Registering creates a new sub-account identified by a number beginning with RM. Your business number for importing will include the sub-account number. For example:

  • Business number: 888888888
  • Importer sub-account number: RM0001
  • Business number for importing: 888888888RM0001

How to register for a business number with the Government of Canada

Getting a federal business number is as simple as going online or making a phone call to the CRA at 1-800-959-5525.

  • Be ready to answer a few questions about your business
  • Have your SIN number and other identification ready
  • On average it takes 5-10 minutes to complete the call. Find live wait times on the CRA’s website

If you need more help getting a federal business number, please contact the CRA.

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