GST/HST registration in Canada

The Canadian goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) applies to non-residents doing business in Canada. A GST/HST account number is part of a business number (BN). If you don’t have a BN yet, you will receive one when you register for your GST/HST account. A non-resident person is not necessarily considered to be carrying on business in Canada for income tax purposes simply because that person is considered to be carrying on business in Canada for GST/HST purposes. Small supplier does not need GST/HST registration. You are no longer a small supplier and you must register for the GST/HST if your total revenues from taxable supplies are over $30,000 ($50,000 for public service bodies) in a single calendar quarter or over four consecutive calendar quarters.

Even if you do not have to register for the GST/HST because you are a small supplier or because you do not carry on business in Canada, still you can choose to voluntarily GST/HST registration.

What is a Business Number?

A Business Number (BN) provides businesses with a 15 digit number which the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) uses for business accounts. The two important accounts for NRIs are the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) program account, and the Import/Export program account.

  • Your business will be given a business number by the CRA if you:
  • Incorporate it federally
  • Register for any CRA program accounts, such as paying the GST (the 5% federal Goods and Services Tax) or HST (harmonized sales tax, which is a combination federal-provincial sales tax paid in the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Prince Edward Island)
  • Register or incorporate it with any of these provinces: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan
  • Register it using Business Registration Online

You can use Business Registration Online to get a business number. You can also register for one or more of the most common Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) program accounts:

  • GST/HST program account (RT)
  • payroll deductions program account (RP)
  • import-export program account (RM)
  • corporation income tax program account (RC)
  • registered charity program account (RR)
  • information returns (RZ)

The business number is supposed to allow for the easy identification of a business at all levels of government. It also prevents confusion of entities that have the same or similar names.

If you just want a business number or to register an RT, RC, RP, RM, RR, or RZ program account, use Business Registration Online instead.

To print a form, go to Form RC1, Request for a Business Number and Certain Program Accounts, or, to order a form, go to Forms and publications.

Fill in Form RC1. Once you have completed the form, mail or fax it to your nearest tax services office or tax centre. To find the appropriate office or centre, go to Find a CRA address.

How Does a CRA Business Number Work?

Business Number

A BN is used by the Canadian government to identify your business, allowing you to conduct all your CRA interactions with a single contact. There are two fundamental reasons why you need a BN if you want to be an NRI:

Your BN Lets You Import into Canada

There’s no getting around it: You need a business number if you want to act as an NRI when you ship your goods into Canada. Applying for a BN will let you apply for an Import-Export program account used by the Canadian Government and gives you the option to become the Importer of Record, which is the party responsible for clearing the goods through customs. The Importer of Record is normally the buyer or the seller.

Your BN Lets You Register for A GST/HST Account

Obtaining a BN does NOT automatically mean you’re registered for a GST/HST account – you need to register for this account separately. While it may not be mandatory to register for GST/HST, there are certain circumstances that would make it mandatory, based on how much revenue you are expecting in a calendar year and if you provide taxable goods and services.

GST/HST returns and payment

When you register for the GST/HST, Canadian tax office will give you a reporting period. Reporting periods are the periods of time for which you file your GST/HST returns. For each reporting period, you have to prepare and send us a GST/HST return showing the amount of the GST/HST. You charged or collected from your customers and the amount of the GST/HST paid or payable to your suppliers. Your reporting period is determined based on the revenue from your total taxable supplies of property and services made in Canada in your immediately preceding fiscal year or in all preceding fiscal quarters ending in that fiscal year.

Canadian tax office can charge penalties and interest on any returns or amounts CRA has not received by the due date. Canadian tax office will hold any GST/HST refund or rebate you are entitled to until Canadian tax office receive all outstanding returns and amounts. If you are a sole proprietor or partnership, your personal income tax refund will also be held. If you are closing a GST/HST account, you must file a final return.

You must file a GST/HST return even if you have:

  • no business transactions
  • no net tax to remit

When a due date falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, or a public holiday recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency, your payment is on time if Canadian tax office receive it on the next business day.

GST/HST filing and payment deadlines

The filing deadline will be different depending on your GST/HST filing period.

See filing deadlines for the different filing periods:

  • monthly
  • quarterly
  • annually – (except for individuals with a December 31 fiscal year-end and business income for income tax purposes)
  • annually – (individuals with a December 31 fiscal year-end and business income for income tax purposes)

Deregister GST/HST account

When you are ready to close (deregister) your GST/HST account, you will need all the following information:

  • business number (BN)
  • legal name of the business
  • cancellation date
  • reason for closing the GST/HST account

Fill out Form RC145, Request to Close Business Number Program Accounts