Business Number FAQs

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The Business Number simplifies the way businesses deal with government by identifying a business and its associated government accounts. These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will answer common questions about the Business Number.

Business Number FAQs

1. What is the Business Number?

The Business Number (BN) is a common client identifier for businesses to simplify their dealings with federal, provincial, and municipal governments. It’s based on the idea of “one business, one number” meaning that each business needs one BN to identify it as a legal entity. 

There are two kinds of Business Numbers: a BN9 and a BN15. For more information about the difference between these, please see FAQ #5. 

A legal entity is a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, trust or other organization. For more information on legal entities, check out our Business Structure article. 

3. How do I know if I need a Business Number and how do I get one?

When starting a business in Manitoba, a Business Number (BN) may be obtained and assigned as part of a government program’s service delivery to the new company. To get a BN in Manitoba, either owners or representatives of the company must register with or seek service from a government program that is part of the Business Number system and uses the BN as a client identifier.

Knowing what you want to do helps determine whether you will need a BN.

If you register with or seek service from one of the government program areas listed below, you will receive a BN as part of their normal business processes:

There are also federal government programs that use the BN - these programs are found at the Canada Revenue Agency’s website.

4. How are Business Numbers created and assigned?

Typically, during business start-up, the owner or the owner’s representatives work with the Companies Office to reserve a business name and incorporate or register the business name. When this is done, a nine-digit Business Number (BN9) will be assigned.

How are BN9s created and assigned?

BN9s are assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provided through various federal, provincial or municipal government programs that use the BN as an identifier, such as the Companies Office.

The BN9 is assigned to the business and uniquely identifies it as a legal entity. Every legal entity will have a particular business structure, which sets out how it’s organized for legal purposes. Learn more about different business structures for legal entities

As a business owner, you may acquire several BN9s if you’re associated with multiple businesses with different business structures.

How are BN15s created and assigned?

The BN15 is a 15-digit Business Number that uses the legal entity’s BN9 and additional alpha-numeric characters to uniquely identify which government program accounts are associated with that particular legal entity.

When the legal entity interacts with a government program that uses the BN system, the program will assign a BN15 to register and identify the legal entity’s account with them.

As a business owner, you’ll have several BN15s if you interact with several federal, provincial, or municipal government programs.

Examples:

Jane is the sole proprietor of two businesses. She has one BN9 for her two sole proprietor businesses because they have the same legal structure. However, she has only three BN15s for her first business (Jane’s Café) but two BN15s for her second business (Jane’s Floral).

Jane’s Sole Proprietorship – 123456789 (BN9)

Jane’s Café

123456789MC0001 (business registration)

Jane’s Café

123456789MT0001 (Provincial Sales Tax)

Jane’s Café

123456789RP0001 (payroll)

Jane’s Floral

123456789MC0002 (business registration)

Jane’s Floral

123456789RT0001 (GST)

Juan has a sole proprietorship and a business in partnership with Jim. Juan has one BN9 for his sole proprietorship, plus several BN15s for that business.  Juan has another BN9 for his partnership with Jim, and that partnership has several (different) BN15s assigned to that partnership.  Juan is associated with two BN9s, one for each business, because they have different legal entity structures. And each business has different dealings and accounts with government, so each business has its own set of BN15s.

Juan’s Sole Proprietorship  – 823456789 (BN9)

Juan’s Auto

823456789MC0001 (business registration)

Juan’s Auto

823456789MT0001 (Provincial Sales Tax)

Juan’s Auto

823456789RP0001 (payroll)

 

Juan and Jim’s Partnership  – 987654321 (BN9)

J & J Leasing

987654321MC0001 (business registration)

J & J Leasing

987654321MT0001 (Provincial Sales Tax)

J & J Leasing

987654321RP0001 (payroll)

 5. What’s the difference between a BN9 and a BN15?

A BN9 is assigned to a business based on its business structure or status as a legal entity.  A legal entity can be a sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, trust or other organization. A business structure sets out how a business is organized for legal purposes. There are several types of business structures:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • Trust
  • “Other”

A BN15 is assigned by a federal, provincial or municipal government program that uses the BN as a client identifier. A business is assigned a BN15 when it opens an account with one of those BN-using programs.

6. What does the business structure I choose have to do with my Business Number?

The business structure you choose matters because a Business Number (BN) is assigned to the business/legal entity, not to you as the business owner. For a full discussion about legal entities and business structures, and how these use the BN, please see our Business Structures article.

7. What do BN15s look like?

The BN15 is a 15-digit Business Number that uses the legal entity’s unique 9-digit root, followed by an account number, which is made up of a 2-character program identifier (identifying the government program for which the business is registered), and a 4-digit account number (an incremental number assigned to each account the business has within each program). The BN15’s structure identifies the business via the root and keeps track of the programs for which the business is registered via the various suffixes.

The chart below shows how BN15s look in Manitoba. Your business/legal entity will have only one 9-digit Business Number (the BN9 “root”), but it will have as many Business Number program accounts (BN15) as you have registrations with government programs. 

  

BN9 root

Program Identifier

Account Number

Goods and Services Tax (CRA)

945127589

RT

0001

Manitoba Corporation Registry

945127589

MC

0001

Manitoba Retail Sales Tax

945127589

MT

0001

Manitoba Health and Education Tax

945127589

MT

0002

City of Winnipeg

945127589

MM

0001

Workers Compensation Board*

945127589

MW

0001

Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit

945127589

MG

0001

 

Example:

‘Chan, Smith, Mohammed, and Associates’ is a partnership, a legal entity with a BN9 of “945127589” and it has several BN15s:

  • 945127589MC0029:  a Manitoba Companies Office account
  • 945127589MT1234:  a Manitoba Taxation account
  • 945127589RT9990:  a Federal GST account

8. Why am I getting so many BN15s? Do I need them all?

You will get a BN15 every time you register or interact with a federal, provincial, or municipal government program that uses the Business Number. You’ll need these BN15s as reference numbers when you’re interacting with the government program areas that gave them to you. It’s a good idea to keep your BN15s in a place that’s safe, but convenient to reference.

Once the legal entity has its BN9, every account it opens where it uses its BN9 will result in a new program account being created. You can use either the BN9 or any of the BN15s to identify you and your company with a government program that uses the BN as an identifier.

9. Who needs to know I have a Business Number?

Any partner program in Manitoba that uses the Business Number will need to know your BN. You can refer to FAQ #3 for a list of Business Number (BN) partner programs in Manitoba. When you’re interacting with one of these programs for the first time, tell them you have a Business Number. Any of them can give you a BN9 if you don’t yet have one.

If you already have a BN9 for your business/legal entity, tell them what that BN9 is so your business isn’t issued another one. Once your business has a BN9, you want only BN15s to be issued for that business.

It’s important to know that once a BN9 is issued to your legal entity, it belongs to your legal entity “for life”.  So, if you open a business as a sole proprietor in 2002, close it in 2009, and open a new, different business as a sole proprietor in 2012, you will re-use the BN you were using between 2002 and 2009, assuming you didn’t close in 2009 due to bankruptcy. But now we’re getting complicated and for matters like this, when in doubt … contact us!

10. What does it cost to get a Business Number?

The Business Number (BN) itself is free of charge. However, a BN can only be obtained by registering for a government program that participates in the BN system. If a program has a registration fee for their services, you’ll have to pay this fee. Programs are not permitted to charge a separate fee to issue the BN.

If it appears that you’ve been charged for a BN, please let Entrepreneurship Manitoba know by sending an email with relevant details to onenumber@gov.mb.ca.

11. Where do I call for more information?

For information about how to register with government programs that use the Business Number, or how the programs use the Business Number, contact those programs directly. 

For general information about the Business Number system, contact Entrepreneurship Manitoba’s Business Number program, called Manitoba Business Links, as follows:

Entrepreneurship Manitoba
Phone: 204-945-0514
Toll free: 1-866-205-1657
Email: onenumber@gov.mb.ca
Hours: Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., CST/CDT