Understanding your 9-digit Business Number (BN)

January 10, 2024

This article can be found on Canada.ca

Understanding your 9-digit Business Number (BN)

Certain business activities require a business number. You can register for:

  • a business number (BN): a unique, nine-digit number and the standard identifier for businesses which is unique to a business or legal entity
  • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program accounts: two letters and four digits attached to a BN and used for specific business activities that must be reported to the CRA

When you need a BN

You need a BN if you incorporate or need a CRA program account.

You might need a BN to interact with other federal, provincial, and municipal governments in Canada. For more information, go to Canada Revenue Agency registration and provincial or other federal programs.

Getting a BN as part of other registrations

You will get a BN if you:

  • register using Business Registration Online (BRO)
  • 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:
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Saskatchewan

When you need a new BN

A business or legal entity can only have one BN. If you already have a BN and you want to change the legal ownership or the structure of your business, you may have to register for a new BN. For more information, go to Changes to your business and Canada Revenue Agency program accounts.

There is an exception in the case of a sole proprietor in bankruptcy. For more information, go to Bankruptcy – Business structures.

When you need CRA program accounts

Each CRA program account has its own rules and requirements about when you need to register.

Registering for a CRA program account will get you a BN if you don't already have one. If you already have a BN, the program account will be added to your BN. Your business will only ever have one BN.

The most common CRA program accounts a business may need are:

You can register online to get a BN and the most common CRA program accounts:

Register using BRO – What you can do


When you register for a BN using BRO, you will receive a new nine-digit BN. You must keep this new BN for your own records and future interactions with the CRA.

Other CRA program accounts are described below.

CRA program account numbers

Business number, 123456789. Program identifier, RP. Reference number, 0002.

A CRA program account number has three parts:

  1. the nine-digit BN to identify the business
  2. a two-letter program identifier code to identify the program account
  3. a four-digit reference number to identify an individual program account (since businesses can have more than one of the same kind)


You start a sole proprietorship. You need a GST/HST program account if you need to charge GST/HST. If you have one or more employees, you will also need a payroll deductions program account.

Once registered, your business will receive a:


  • 123456789

GST/HST program account number:

  • 123456789 RT 0001

Payroll deductions program account number:

  • 123456789 RP 0001

If your business does not receive the information, you will need to check that the program accounts were registered properly. If your business needs to confirm their account number(s), you will need to contact the CRA.

If the business later incorporates, you will need to register for a new BN. This will generate an RC program account for corporation income tax and you will need to add other CRA program accounts that you require (RP, RT). You will then close the sole proprietor BN accounts if you do not need them for any other businesses that you operate. For more information, go to Corporation income tax program account.

Other CRA program accounts

Very few businesses need other CRA program accounts such as:

This article can be found on Canada.ca

The information provided on this page is intended to provide general information. The information does not take into account your personal situation and is not intended to be used without a specific consultation. Lucas CPA Professional Corporation will not be held liable for any problems that arise from the usage of the information provided on this page.

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