Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How to Apply for Business number in BC (British Columbia)

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Jillian Castillo
Jillian Castillo
"Proud thinker. Tv fanatic. Communicator. Evil student. Food junkie. Passionate coffee geek. Award-winning alcohol advocate."

As someone who has walked through the process of obtaining a Business Number (BN) in British Columbia (BC), I understand the concerns and questions that arise during the application. My aim is to make this process as clear and straightforward as possible for you, sharing from my personal experience.

The Business Number

The Business Number (BN) is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to businesses and self-employed individuals in Canada. The BN serves as a unified identifier for businesses in their interactions with federal, provincial, and local government agencies.

In BC, if your business requires registration for one or more of the CRA’s accounts (such as GST/HST, payroll, import/export, or corporate income tax), you will need a BN.

Determine If You Need a Business Number

Before starting the application process, you need to ascertain whether your business actually needs a BN. If you’re a sole proprietor earning business income beyond a certain threshold, a partnership, or a corporation, you generally need a BN. Also, if you plan to hire employees, collect GST/HST, or import/export goods, a BN is necessary.

In my case, as I intended to hire employees and exceed the threshold for GST/HST collection, I needed to obtain a BN for my business.

Gather the Necessary Information

You will need to provide certain information during the application process. This includes:

  • The legal name of your business
  • Business address
  • Description of your business activities
  • Social insurance number (if you’re a sole proprietor)
  • Corporation key (if you’re a corporation)

As part of my preparation, I made sure I had all this information on hand, ensuring a smooth application process.

Choose Your Method of Application

You can apply for a BN in BC in three ways:

  1. Online through the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) service. This was my preferred method as it was the most convenient.
  2. By mail or fax using form RC1, Request for a Business Number.
  3. By phone by calling the CRA.
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Complete the Application

Online Application: If you’re applying online like I did, follow these steps:

  1. Visit the CRA’s BRO website.
  2. Select Register for a Business Number.
  3. Fill in the required information. The site will guide you through the process and prompt you to create specific accounts (like GST/HST or payroll) based on your responses.
  4. Review your application carefully before submitting it.

Mail or Fax Application: If you prefer to apply by mail or fax, download and complete form RC1, and send it to your tax services office.

Phone Application: You can also call the CRA’s Business inquiries line to apply over the phone.

 Wait for Your Business Number

Once you’ve submitted your application, you will receive your BN. If you applied online or by phone, you would usually receive your BN immediately. If you applied by mail or fax, you would receive your BN within 15 business days.

In my case, applying online meant I received my BN instantly after the successful submission of my application.

Important Points to Remember

From my experience, I want to highlight a few points:

1. Keep Records: Keep a record of your BN and the details of your application. This information will be crucial for your future dealings with the CRA and other government entities.

2. BN Is Free: Applying for a BN is free. Don’t fall for services that charge a fee to obtain a BN on your behalf.

3. Privacy Matters: Never share your BN with anyone who doesn’t need it. It’s sensitive information and should be treated as such.

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4. Changes to Business: If there are changes to your business, such as a change of address or business activity, you need to inform the CRA. This ensures that your business information is kept current.

5. Additional Accounts: Remember, your BN can be used to register for various CRA program accounts like GST/HST, payroll deductions, corporate income tax, or import/export. Depending on the growth and needs of your business, you may need to add these accounts later on.

6. Provincial Requirements: In addition to the BN for federal programs, be aware of your responsibilities for provincial programs in BC. This could include Provincial Sales Tax (PST), Employer Health Tax (EHT), or WorkSafeBC coverage.

Insights from My Experience

As a business owner who has applied for and received a BN in BC, I can share some insights that could help you in your journey:

1. Be Prepared: Before starting the application process, ensure you have all the required information on hand. This significantly simplifies the process and saves time.

2. Online is Easier: I found applying online through the CRA’s BRO service to be the most convenient. It was simple to use, and I received my BN immediately after submission.

3. Stay Informed: It’s essential to understand what your responsibilities are once you have a BN. This includes keeping the CRA informed of any significant changes to your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a Canadian business registration number?

You can obtain a Canadian Business Number (BN) by applying through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). This can be done online via the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) service, by mail or fax using Form RC1, or over the phone by calling the CRA’s Business Enquiries line. You’ll need to provide the necessary information such as your business name, business address, and a description of your business activities.

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How do I register my business name in BC?

To register your business name in BC, you must first conduct a name search and reservation through BC Registry Services’ Name Requests Online. Once your name is approved and reserved, you can proceed to register your business either online through OneStop Business Registration or by mail, or in person through Service BC. You’ll need to provide details such as your business name, location, and the names of the business owners or directors.

What is a BC business registration number?

A BC business registration number, also known as a Business Number (BN), is a unique nine-digit number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to businesses operating in BC and across Canada. This number serves as a unified identifier in the business’s dealings with federal, provincial, and local government agencies, especially for tax matters. This includes GST/HST, payroll deductions, corporate income tax, and import/export


Applying for a Business Number in BC may seem daunting, but it’s a straightforward process, particularly if you’re well-prepared. Remember, the key is to understand what the BN is, why your business may need it, and how to go about the application process. From my experience, the effort is well worth it in order to ensure your business is fully compliant and ready to operate within BC’s thriving economy.

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