Business Numbers

A business number is a nine-digit number assigned to a business, incorporated company or society by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The number identifies the business or organization when interacting with federal, provincial and local government programs.

Program Accounts

When a business or organization signs up for some government programs (such as WorkSafe BC) two letters and four numbers are added to the nine-digit business number to identify the program account and create a program number (or BN15)

For example:

123456789 Nine-digit business number issued by CRA (BN9)
123456789BW0001 Program number for a company registered with WorkSafeBC (BN15)

The following government agencies use the BN15 to identify incorporated businesses:

  • BC Registries and Online Services
  • OneStop Business Registry
  • Canada Revenue Agency
  • Payroll and Imports/Exports
  • Liquor Control and Licensing Branch
  • WorkSafeBC
  • BCeID Program

Why is a Business Number Important?

A business number is required for tax matters related to business in Canada. For example, a business number is needed when applying for program accounts such as WorkSafeBC, PST, GST, corporate income tax, payroll deductions or import/export tax with CRA.

As well the business number

  • Makes dealing with government offices easier because your information is accessible, safe and securely shared, as permitted by law
  • Is tied to your business information so that one number provides access to all your information when completing common registrations
  • Saves time because that one number identifies a business or organization immediately, leading to faster, more efficient service
  • Is a more accurate way to identify businesses and prevents mistaken identity which can occur when using only a business name
  • Is kept by your business or organization for the life of the business and there are no fees or renewal processes involved

Getting a Business Number

BC Registries and Online Services automatically requests a business number from CRA for new B.C. corporations, businesses or societies as part of the registration process. The Registry then notifies the corporation, business or society of their number.

If an email address is provided to BC Registry Services, you can receive your business number within two days. If only a regular mailing address is provided, you should receive your business number within ten days.

Note: Entities such as trusts, names of homes, municipalities, cemetery corporations, joint ventures and entities registered under The Libel & Slander Act, are not included in the automatic registration of a business number.

If you do not know your business number or find you need to apply for one, visit the CRA website or contact CRA for assistance.

Change in Business Status

If you already have a business number and you change the legal ownership or the structure of your business, you may have to register for a new business number.