Do You Need to Register for the GST?
GST registration is mandatory for all businesses in Canada except for those deemed small suppliers. Do I Need to Register for GST? explains the Canada Revenue Agency’s definition of a Small Supplier.
However, even if you don’t have to register for the GST, you may want to register voluntarily. Without GST registration in Canada, your business won't be able to get back the GST/HST you paid in the course of your commercial activities.
Grappling With the GST provides more details on this.
How Does GST in Canada Work?
Generally, once your GST registration is complete, you charge your customers and/or clients GST/HST on the taxable goods and services you supply to them.
The GST/HST you collect is remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency by completing a GST/HST return either quarterly or annually.
When you are completing your GST/HST return, you can claim Input Tax Credits (ITCs) for the GST/HST you paid or owe "on purchases and expenses you use, consume, or supply in your commercial activities" (General Information for GST/HST Registrants, Canada Revenue Agency), in effect getting back the GST/HST you paid.
See Grappling With the GST/HST for more on the process of collecting and remitting GST and claiming Input Tax Credits.
Common Questions About the GST/HST is a handy guide to the ins and outs of charging the GST, filing and remitting the GST, and dealing with the GST as a non-resident.
The GST Registration Process
GST registration is a very quick and easy process; all you need to do is phone the Canada Revenue Agency. They'll take the necessary information and register your business for GST/HST in Canada.What's the GST Registration Process? gives the CRA phone number and information on how to register for the GST/HST online or by mail if you prefer.
Note that if your business is in Quebec, you need to contact Revenu Quebec instead at 1-800-567-4692 as they deal with GST/HST in that province.
The GST Number
The Canada Revenue Agency assigns your business a Business Number as part of the GST registration process. It's basically a business identification number that you will use in all your correspondence with the Canada Revenue Agency.
You also need to show your Business Number on all of your invoices. (See How to Invoice With PST and/or How to Invoice With HST for a sample of how this is done and a list of other information that must be on your invoices by law.)
When people ask you for your GST Number, it's this Business Number that they’re asking for.
GST/HST Forms and Guides
The Canada Revenue Agency provides many guides and pamphlets with additional information about GST/HST, including guides that are specific to particular types of businesses.GST and HST provides a listing of the most popular of these as well as other GST/HST resources.
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