If you’re reading this, your revenue on taxable supplies has probably exceeded (or is close to exceeding) $30,000. Congratulations!

This means you’re no longer considered a small supplier. It also means you’ll have to start charging GST/HST on your goods or services. But first, there are two things you’ll need to set up with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).


Step 1: Register for a Business Number

Before you can start charging GST/HST, you’ll need a GST/HST number. And before you can register for a GST/HST number, you’ll need a Business Number (BN). (If you’ve already got a BN, you can skip ahead to Step 2.)

The simplest way to acquire your BN is to use the CRA’s online business registration portal. You’ll need certain personal information, including your social insurance number and date of birth, and additional business information, such as the business name and a description of the business activity.

Once you’ve completed the business registration and received your BN, you can register for various program accounts, including the GST/HST number.

What if my computer crashes mid-registration? How can I find out what my BN is? (Asking for a friend….)

In the event that your computer crashes or your wifi disconnects before you can view your BN, you have two options: start over in the online portal or call the CRA.

If the registration was incomplete before you experienced technical difficulties, you should be able to start from scratch online. However, if you are unable to register your business because the CRA claims that it already exists in its system, it means the registration was completed, and you’ll need to call the CRA for assistance.


When you call the CRA:

  • You’ll select the appropriate options through the automated menu
  • You’ll be put on hold until an agent is available
  • You’ll listen to the hold music – an instrumental version of Fauré’s “Nell”

When you speak to a CRA agent:

  • They will ask a series of questions to verify your identity
  • They will ask when you started your business – this refers to the exact date your business was registered with the CRA

Once your identity and business have been verified, the CRA agent will provide your BN, and you can move on to Step 2.


Step 2: Registering for a GST/HST Number

Log into the CRA’s business registration portal and select “GST/HST number” from the list of program account options.

You’ll need the following information:

  • Amount of your annual worldwide and domestic GST/HST taxable supplies
  • Fiscal year-end
  • Effective date of registration
  • Reporting period
  • Physical and mailing addresses, if they differ from the business address on file

The effective date of registration refers to the date at which point you MUST start charging GST/HST. If you exceeded the $30,000 revenue threshold in a single quarter, the effective date of registration is the date of sale that pushed you over the threshold.

However, if you’ve exceeded the threshold over a period of four consecutive quarters, you don’t need to start charging GST/HST until the beginning of the month after you are no longer considered a small supplier. You must register for a GST/HST number within 29 days of exceeding the threshold.

What happens if it’s been more than 29 days?

If more than 29 days have passed, you won’t be able to register for a GST/HST number online, as the CRA’s portal does not allow you to backdate your effective date of registration longer than that. If this is the case, you’ll have to register over the phone.

In addition to the standard personal and business information used to verify your identity, the CRA agent will ask for your quarterly revenue

in order to help you determine your effective date of registration. They will also be able to backdate it as necessary, and provide you with your GST/HST number.


However, regardless of when you receive your number, you must begin charging GST/HST as of the effective date of registration.

For more information on when to register for a GST/HST number, and how to determine your effective date of registration, visit the CRA website.