How to Register a Business Number or CRA Account

Thinking about starting your own business? Or already working to get it up and running?

Then you should know one of the most important steps for most Ontario businesses when it comes to registering:

How to register for your Canada Revenue Agency Business Number!

What is a CRA Business Number?

Your business number is a unique identifier that makes it easier to separate your business from others (especially those who may have a similar name) when dealing with the government.

It is also the first step to registering for specific CRA accounts, such as the GST/HST account, or a Payroll deductions account. When you register for other CRA programs afterwards your account number for them will include your nine digit Business Number.

It’s sort of like a SIN number for your business — a numerical way for the government to handle the information it needs to help you succeed!

How do I know if I need a Business Number?

Not all businesses require a Business Number, however the majority do.

You need a business number if you incorporate or need a CRA program account.

You will receive 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

There are also certain federal and provincial programs which necessitate a Business Number even if you might not meet one of the criteria above. You can learn more about those on this government webpage.

There are also circumstances where you will need to request a new Business Number, such as when you change the legal ownership or structure of your business.


How do I register for a Business Number?

You can register online for both your Business Number, as well as a number of CRA program accounts using the CRA’s Business Registration Online tool (also called “BRO”).

Access BRO by going here:


This page also contains information about how to register by mail, fax, or phone. However, it is often fastest and most efficient to use the BRO system instead.

BRO is intended for use by:

  • a business owner
  • a third party requester
  • a representative with a RepID or a GroupID
  • an individual that employs a caregiver, a babysitter or a domestic worker

You can use BRO if you have all of the following:

  • valid social insurance number (SIN)
  • income tax return filed with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

You cannot use BRO if you have any of the following:

  • invalid SIN
  • SIN that starts with a 9
  • income tax return that was never filed with the CRA
  • GST/HST program account to register for:
    • business located in Quebec
    • non-resident business
    • bare trust to register

Once registered for your Business Number, you can also apply for the following CRA program accounts using BRO:


  • corporation income tax
  • payroll deductions
  • import-export
  • registered charity
  • information returns

What do I need to prepare to register for a Business Number?

As a business owner (or third party requester), you must provide all of the following:

  • last name
  • social insurance number (SIN)
  • date of birth
  • personal postal code (where you live)

When applying for your Business Number, please have the following information available:

  • business name
  • business number (if this business already has one)
  • type of business or organization (for example: sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, registered charity)
  • name and SIN of owners as required
  • physical address
  • mailing address (if different from the physical address)
  • description of major business activity

There are also other requirements to apply for specific CRA program accounts, such as the GST/HST account. You can read about those on this government webpage.


Registering your business for a Business Number is a quick and painless process!

Doing so establishes your business with the government, and grants you access to other powerful programs that can help your new business flourish.

If you’re serious about starting your business right, then you seriously need to get your Business Number ready!

For more help starting your business, call META today!

*The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice. Information is valid only as of the date of publication. Please always consult the relevant government websites for the latest information, requirements, and links.

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