Business Register (BR)

Detailed information for fourth quarter 2004





Record number:


The Business Register is a structured list of businesses engaged in the production of goods and services in Canada.

Data release - February 2, 2005


The Business Register Division (BRD) maintains the Business Register (BR) which is the central repository of information on businesses in Canada. The BR is used as the principal frame for the economic statistics program of Statistics Canada (STC). The Business Register's role is to provide Statistics Canada with a comprehensive quality frame in terms of coverage and a set of stratification variables such as industrial classification, gross business income, number of employees and total assets.

Although the BR is updated on an on-going basis, data on population of businesses with employees are released quarterly.

A more detailed survey description is available through a link in the Documentation section below.


  • Business ownership
  • Business performance and ownership
  • Entry, exit, mergers and growth

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Business Register contains stratification, collection and response information for Canadian businesses. The Business Register maintains a complete, up to date and unduplicated list on all active businesses in Canada that have a corporate income tax (T2) account, are an employer or have a GST account with an annual gross business income of over $30.000.

Instrument design

The various questionnaires, documents, letters and forms were developed to facilitate the collection of specific data relative to the legal and operating structures of a business

The information that is collected and processed is reviewed and presented to BR client divisions via the Joint Staff Committee and Contact Archive Tracking System (CATS).


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

The integrated (complex) portion (IP) of the Business Register represents approximately 20% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 80% of the total economic activity in Canada. The non-integrated (non-complex) (NIP) portion represents approximately 80% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 20% of the total economic activity in Canada. The focus of manual intervention is on the complex portion of the Business Register while automatic updates are on the non complex portion.

The Business Register is updated by various sources:
. The monthly BN Master File from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA)
. Profiling of large and medium sized businesses; profiling is the process of conducting in-depth telephone or on-site interviews with senior company representatives so as to obtain all pertinent financial information, relationships, and structures about the company for a specified time frame
. Survey feedback; changes and corrections to frame data on the Business Register are transmitted regularly by survey collection areas during the collection of economic survey data
. Research gathering tools such as: the internet, provincial gazettes, trade and business publications and newspaper clippings.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

Error detection is performed on an ongoing basis using various methods such as:

Interceptor is a system used by the various survey divisions in conjunction with BR to pre scan incoming survey feedback to detect possible errors or emission of data coming from the Regional Offices to enhance the flow of survey feedback.

Interface files such as the Preliminary Analysis File (PAF) which provides a preview of the population of units in scope for survey programs and the Survey Universe File (SUF) which is the official version of the population of statistical units in scope for each survey areas.

Reconciliation is a three phase activity. The first phase is to compare the name of businesses listed on the survey file to the business register and to identify units that are on both files. The second phase is targeted to units on the survey file but not found on the business register. The third phase is to decide the best course of action for the population of units on the BR that has not been found on the survey file. The reconciliation process is an important activity to ensure the validity of the new frame and to explain the difference in the survey estimates resulting from the move to using the BR.


No imputation is done for this survey.


The employment size ranges: For most establishments, the employment estimates are derived using, as a primary input, the amount of payroll deduction remittances made by employers on behalf of their employees. These are model-based estimates and should not be confused with estimates produced by the Labour Force Survey. The model has proven to be a good estimator of the employment-equivalent figures at the establishment level and these are used by Statistics Canada for survey stratification purposes. This variable is updated on a monthly basis.

The industrial classification code: Establishments are coded based on the concept of major business activity in a manner consistent with the approach outlined by the Standard Industry Classification (SIC -- 1980) and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For newly created businesses, the primary industrial coding is initially processed using an automated coder software. This software evaluates the activity description indicated by the business and assigns the appropriate industry classification coding (about 50% of new business records). Activity descriptions lacking precision are subjected to a manually coding process (about 50% of new business records). Subsequent to this initial classification process, the industry code may be further updated if: a) the Business Register is notified of a change of activity as a result of a survey contact; b) a subsequent update from the CCRA administrative source mentions a change in the business activities; or c) a business profile is conducted by the Business Register.

The geography: The spatial coding of establishments is based on the Standard Geographical Classification (SGC) maintained by Statistics Canada. The link between a specific business and its geographical code is made using the postal code. Where a single postal code crosses different SGC geographical units, the Business Register assigns all the establishments claiming the same postal code to a single geographical unit, which in general, is the major geographic unit in the surrounding area.

Quality evaluation

Ongoing quality measures are performed using various methods such as:

Joint Staff Committee meets on a regular basis to solve significant frame issues for complex units which affects two or more surveys simultaneously.

Manual Quality Control is performed on an ongoing basis for all manually processed transactions.

Journals are repositories of information about business surveys and their contacts with business respondents.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Longitudinal analysis in the Business Register can be accomplished using:

Monthly snapshots for the last twelve months and annually before that;

Interface files such as the Generic Survey Universe File (GSUF) and the Generic Survey Interface File (GSIF) provide a preview of the population of units in scope for survey programs;

The Canadian Business Patterns (CBP) product, provides counts of active business establishments on the basis of several variables, such as geography and employment size; and

Users should be aware that methodological changes might affect the longitudinal analysis, e.g. change in the method of identifying inactive units.

Data accuracy

Under coverage - Business Register is subjected to a fluctuating number of unclassified Business Number records, outstanding work and unassigned workloads.

Coverage Error - The Business Register is largely based on the Business Number (BN) which is collected and assigned by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Therefore, the quality of the data is dependent upon the quality of the information submitted by Canadian businesses when applying for their Business Number.


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