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Ontario Business Number (BN): What is it and Do I Need One

As an entrepreneur, when first starting your business it can seem like you have a never-ending to-do list and are eager to get going. But, it’s important to map out what’s legally required for your business to operate prior to offering the physical thing you do or sell as a business. In Ontario, a business number (BN) might be one of them.

What is a Business Number (BN)?

The nine-digit business number (BN) is a unique account identifier associated only with your business. It streamlines how your business deals with the federal government of Canada and gives entrepreneurs access to important Canada Revenue Agency accounts. The BN is issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Is a Business Number (BN) the Same Number as the Business Identification Number (BIN) I Received When I Registered My Business?

No, the numbers are not the same. When you register your business name and are issued a Business Name Registration (previously called an Ontario Master Business License), you are assigned a nine-digit BIN number that is used by the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services to identify provincial business accounts.

Does my Business Need a Business Number (BN)?

If you’re planning to incorporate your business, you will need a BN. Businesses registering as sole proprietors or as partnerships are not required to immediately get a BN, rather are only required when they need to register for any CRA program accounts.

The most common CRA program accounts that your business may require are:

  • GST/HST – if your business collects and remits GST or HST (most common)
  • Payroll deductions – if your business has any employees
  • Corporate tax income – if your business is incorporated

If your business will be collecting $30,000 or more in gross revenues (goods and services) in any 12-month period, you are required to register, collect, and remit GST/HST (need a BN). If your sales are less than $30,000, registration is not mandatory. Generally, you will need to register for your business number (BN) before you can register for a GST/HST account.

If you register voluntarily, however, you can claim back the HST paid on items purchased for the business as input tax credits when you file your GST/HST remittance. There is no fee for this registration, but mandatory to keep it for one year once registered.

How do I Register for a BN in Ontario?

You can register for a BN in Ontario quickly online, by mail or fax, or by telephone. To register online visit the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) service. If you prefer, you can also complete an RC1 form and mail or fax it to your nearest tax services office. To register for a BN by phone, call 1-800-959-5525.

In order to complete a BN application online, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Social insurance number (SIN)
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Postal code of residential address
  • Registered business name
  • Type of business (e.g. sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, trust)
  • Name and SIN of owners
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Mailing address (if different from physical address)
  • Description of your major business activity

Additional Resources:

Have questions? Contact the CRA Business inquiries toll-free by calling 1-800-959-5525.