Do you need a business number to import?
Yes, all commercial cargo imported into Canada requires a business number. Please note the CBSA’s definition of ‘commercial’ is extremely broad: anything for “commercial, institutional, or occupational use” is considered commercial. Personal orders of a high volume (e.g. 100x of the same item) or peculiar nature (industrial machinery) may also require a business number regardless of their end-use.
What is the difference between a business number and an importer number?
None. The business number is the master number used by Ottawa to track Canadian business activity, and the importer number is a sub-account (business number + RM0001) that is activated when your business imports commercial goods.
Your business number -> 888888888
Your business number for importing -> 888888888RM0001
The numbers currently only start with 1, 7, or 8 and stretch to nine digits. Other sub-accounts of the business number include payroll, GST/HST, and corporate reporting.
Am I eligible to obtain an importer number?
Any Canadian resident or non-resident business is eligible for an importer number.
We are not registered for GST, do we have a business number?
Yes, all registered companies in Canada are issued a business number, regardless of their GST status.
To get an importer number, please contact CRA and ask them to activate it for you - it will look similar to your GST number. Here's CRA's contact information: 800-959-5525