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How to Activate your Business Number for Importing

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If you have a business, regardless of its size, you are likely already registered with the CRA for payroll or income tax. If your business is importing for the first time, you will need to contact the CRA to activate this business number specifically for import/export.

To activate your business number, simply call the CRA hotline at 800-959-5525. You will want to do this before your shipment arrives in Canada to avoid delays or additional bonding charges during the shipment of your merchandise.

What is a business number?

It must start with the numbers ‘8,’ ‘7,’ or ‘1’ and be nine-digits long. It will also be followed by an ‘account identifier’: RC, RT, or RM. It is the same number used to report payroll and income tax to the CRA. Also known as an ‘importer number’ or ‘BN.’

E.g. of a business number: 123456789RM0001

What if I do not have a business number?

Even if you believe you do not have one, it is worth calling the CRA to double-check. In the event that your business is not registered, a BN can be obtained online, by phone (800-959-5525), or by mailing or faxing a completed form RC1 to the nearest tax services center.

If the number is strictly for importing, Border Bee can expedite your registration.



Is it easier to declare my commercial goods as personal?

No. Per the CBSA: anything for “commercial, occupational, industrial or like use” is considered commercial goods and must be imported under a business number. Not only will the importer reserve cash flow by importing as a business–commercial imports are not subject to PST, QST or the provincial portion of HST–but Customs may not release your shipment until you are registered. Large orders and commercial wares will have a difficult time crossing the border posing as ‘personal’ goods and you may even be subject to a penalty.

In addition to paying provincial tax, personal importers are also subject to additional scrutiny and may be required to provide a receipt or proof of purchase.



Still confused? Contact us


Ecommerce, Customs and You provides answers to your questions on importing goods, written by the Border Bee staff.

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