BN and RM Numbers | What Do They Have To Do With Importing Into Canada?
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What is Step 1 when importing commercially into Canada? Well, the answer is obtaining a Business Number (BN). In this blog we will explore what it is, why importers need one and how it’s different from an Import/Export (RM) number.

What Is A BN?

A Business Number (BN) is a unique 9-digit number assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to businesses and/or self-employed individuals. 

The CRA uses the BN as a standard identifier for your business, or simply put, CRA assigns a BN as a tax identification number. Each BN is unique to each business or legal entity. You need a BN to interact with the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments. 

What Is A Program Account?

The BN is used for major government revenue programs such as Goods and Services Tax (GST), payroll deductions, corporate income tax and import/export. CRA refers to these revenue programs as program accounts. When CRA assigns you a BN you can then register for a program account. You can have more than one program account. There are six major program accounts with the following 2 letter program identifier code:

  1. RT - Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax
  2. RP - Payroll Deductions
  3. RM - Import/Export
  4. RC - Corporate Income Tax
  5. RR - Registered Charity
  6. RZ - Information Returns

What Do The BN And RM Numbers Mean?

A CRA program account has three parts; 

  1. 9-digit business number to identify the business
  2. 2-letter program identifier code to identify the CRA program account
  3. 4-digit reference number to identify an individual CRA program account 

An example of a BN with an Import/Export program account is:

123456789 RM 0001

CBSA uses the BN with the Import/Export program account (RM) for identification of the business at time of import to process customs documents and for compliance purposes. 

Do I need a BN And RM Account To Import?

If your business imports goods or sells goods or services abroad you will need a valid BN and an Import/Export program account (RM) prior to importing goods into Canada. 

Registering for a CRA program account will get you a business number if you do not already have one. If you have a business number the CRA program account will be added to your BN.

How Do I Register For A BN Or RM?

If you are new to importing and need a BN or RM, a Customs Broker can obtain one for you quickly.

Alternatively, registering for a BN and program account is free of charge and can usually be obtained within a few business days. 

With the CBSA Assessment and Revenue Management project (CARM) Release 2 scheduled for 2023, you will be able to apply for a BN and RM number directly through the CARM client portal

Should you have any questions regarding the necessity of a BN and RM number, contact us directly. 

contact us if you are looking for a customs broker to assist you.
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About Author
Jan Brock

Jan Brock joined PCB Customs Brokers in 2015 as a Senior Trade Advisor. She retired from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2015 after serving more than 37 years. Jan started her career with CBSA as a summer student in 1976 and worked part-time until she graduated from U.B.C. with a Bachelor of Education Degree in 1980 . Shortly after graduating from U.B.C. Jan worked full time as an inspector with CBSA and within three years was promoted to Superintendent. She served some time in the Regional Operations office as an Operations Review Officer before she was promoted to Chief of Operations first at the Customs Mail Centre, then in the Metro District as the Commercial Chief and ending her career as a Chief at Pacific Highway Commercial Operations where she served as Chief from 1992 to 2015. During her career she was a member of the Customs Drug Team and a trainer in the National Enforcement Program. Jan also served as the Regional Coordinator Officer Powers and Use of Force for the Pacific Region. Jan served on many Commercial Program Reviews and committees both national and regional during her career and possesses an expansive knowledge of importing and exporting into and from Canada.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.