corporations & business numbers

step by step


*Please note that this article is based on Canadian Federal System

Your corporation is assigned two different numbers: the Corporation Number and the Business Number. Each number is used by different branches of the government to identify your business.

The Corporation Number is assigned by Corporations Canada or a Provincial Government at the time the company is incorporated. It is used for filing legal documents with Corporations Canada, such as any changes to the corporation's structure or to file the Annual Return. The number is usually 7 digits long.

Registering your corporation federally provides heightened name protection, the right to carry your business across Canada, global recognition, and online account management. The cost to file online is $200.

Provincial incorporation is less expensive, but it only allows you to operate your business within that jurisdiction and does not provide name protection outside of that province. To incorporate your business at the federal level, visit Corporations Canada here.

Business numbers (BN) have a variety of endings or identifiers depending on the account. In each instance, the 9-digit number remains the same, with the program identifier changing. For example:

Income Tax 123456789 RC 0001

Payroll 123456789 RP 0001

HST 123456789 RT 0001

To find a corporation's BN, you can access the federal corporations' online database provided by Corporations online database of federal corporations or by contacting Corporations Canada or CRA directly.

Before incorporating your business, you may want to obtain a NUANS report. Although not necessary unless you wish to pre-approve a corporate name, it is still worth doing. It provides assurance that your proposed company name is available for use and eligible for incorporation. The NUANS report provides a list of existing corporate names, business names, and trademarks that are similar to the proposed name. The report is only valid for 90 days and can be obtained for a cost of $13.50 at the NUANS website.