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Actionable Tips for Small Businesses

How-To Register Your Business in Canada (Plus Infographic)

One of the first steps when starting a business in Canada is the process of registering. Depending on where your business is located, and the type (ltd company, corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership), you may have to register your business at several different levels or areas of government. Thankfully, once this step is over with you won’t have to do it again (unless you’re successful and decide to start a second business).

Canadian Residents

Get started quickly by registering online. The Canada Revenue Agency offers “Business Registration Online” (BRO) http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/bn-ne/bro-ide/menu-eng.html. Perks include not having to wait in line in a crowded government office, being able to register your business in the comfort of your own home in your pajamas, and registering at a time that’s convenient to you (think 2am with leftover pizza in hand).

From the official Canada Revenue Agency site:

“Business Registration Online is a one stop, online, self-serve application that allows you to register for a Business Number, as well as for four program accounts: Corporation income tax, GST/HST, Payroll and Import/Export. You can also register or apply for Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia program accounts.”

This is the information you will be asked for when registering online:

• Full legal name as it appears on your tax return,
• Business name,
• Social insurance number (SIN),
• Telephone number,
• Address for yourself and the business,
• Type of business,
• The amount of your current Canada revenue and worldwide sales.

Unfortunately, not everyone can register online. The following disqualifies you from online BRO:

• Those without an SIN number,
• Not filing income tax return with the CRA,
• Those who have a BN already,
• Those needing a GST/HST program account for a business with a physical address in Québec,
• Those who have a non-resident business and want to register for a GST/HST program account,
• Those wishing to register a bare trust.

If you aren’t qualified to register online, don’t let your hopes and dreams be crushed. Other options available to you are registering your business by phone, fax, or mail. Call the Canada Revenue Agency at 1-800-959-5525 Monday through Friday from 8:15 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. local time for information on registering by phone or mail. Amazingly, they aim to respond to all callers within 2 minutes. Their automated phone service is available 24/7, you just won’t get that personalized service from their super friendly staff.

Need to call and register? Print out form RC1 ahead of time. Again, the number is 1-800-959-5525. See the helpful Infographic at the bottom for more details!

Registering for Non-Residents

If you are not a resident of Canada, but wish to register a business in Canada, there are only three simple steps, which makes it like a one stop business registration process. You will still need to basic information, like the company you will be doing business as, addresses, and so forth.

Step 1: Download form RC1 (PDF format) and fill it out. (Form here http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/rc1/rc1-12e.pdf)

Step 2: Call 1-800-959-5525, press 1, then 1, then * and find out which number you fax your form to (number varies based on your location).

Step 3: Fax your RC1.

Note that form RC1 is used for both residents and non-residents of Canada. Non-residents will not have an SIN. Your form will processed with 30 days, and as long as everything checks out, your business will be registered!


Comments (One Comment) Leave a Comment
  • A Hayes July 16, 2013 at 3:12 pm . Reply

    This article does a great job of outlining the steps to registering a business, however, I would add that business owner’s need to first carefully consider what form of business organization they would like to register (sole proprietorship, partnership or corporation). Each of these forms of business organization have various pros and cons that need to be carefully evaluated against the objectives of the business owner. Once a particular form of business organization has been selected, this article provides a good starting point. However, if you need help with registering a business, check out http://www.launchraft.ca. The site also contains important information about each form of business organization and has been designed to make registering a business easy.

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