Business Register (BR)

Detailed information for June 2024




2 times per year

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The Business Register (BR) is Statistics Canada's continuously-maintained central repository of baseline information on businesses and institutions operating in Canada. As a statistical register, it provides listings of units and related attributes required for survey sampling frames, data integration, stratification and business demographic statistics.

Data release - June 21, 2024


The Statistics Canada's central statistical register of businesses and institutions, the BR provides the statistical sampling frames for the 200+ business survey programs administered by the agency. It also serves as a central hub for data integration in the compilation of cross-cutting statistics obtained through record linkage. Finally, it is used to compile business demographic indicators, including the detailed counts of enterprises within industries and provinces that comprise the Canadian Business Counts product, which is released semi-annually.

Reference period: December 31st of each calendar year

Collection period: On-going all year


  • 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 of all businesses in Canada that have a corporate income tax (T2) account, an employer payroll deduction remittance (PD7) account, a GST/HST account, a T5013 partnership account, a registered charities account. Persons reporting any of the various types of business income on personal tax forms (T1) are also included on the Register (regardless of whether they have GST/HST or PD7 remittances.).

"Active" businesses are those with current or recent filings through any these various tax programs.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


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 complex portion of the Business Register represents approximately 1% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 52% of the total economic activity in Canada. The simple portion represents approximately 99% of the total active businesses on the database and accounts for approximately 48% of the total economic activity in Canada. The focus of manual intervention is on the complex portion of the Business Register while automatic updates from administrative sources are made on the simple portion.

The Business Register is updated by various sources:

- Files from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) such as; T2, T1, GST, PD7 and T4

- 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

- 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.

Error detection

Editing of BR records is an on-going process that is performed daily by staff in various divisions with different roles across Statistics Canada. The Administrative Data Division takes in the CRA data and performs consistency checks and pre-processing activities. The Statistical Registers and Geography Division (SRGD), as the main manager and maintainer of the BR, then uses the data to build the register. Enterprise profilers and statistical officers on-staff in SRGD perform on-going verifications and updating of data. Industrial and other subject-matter economists working in the many survey program divisions also contribute to the maintenance of the frame. Given the significant number of editors, editing of BR data is controlled through an internal interactive system that ensures coherence and proper routing of editing tasks.


This methodology does not apply.


The estimation process is fairly simple. It is a simple count of the number of establishments or a sum of the revenues or a sum of the employment of those establishments that fall in each category of interest. Those categories are formed by the various crossings of employment size ranges, industrial classification and geographical area. Here is more information on how each of them is defined.

The employment size ranges: The number of employees for each enterprise is obtained through direct contact for complex enterprises and from administrative sources (PD7, T4) for simple enterprises.

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 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). For newly created businesses, the primary industrial coding is initially processed using automated coding software. This software evaluates the activity description indicated by the business and assigns the appropriate industry classification coding (about 40% 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 CRA 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 data that would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Some confidential data can be released for statistical or research purposes with the authorization of the Chief Statistician. Please note that only government bodies can receive authorization from the Chief Statistician permitting them to receive confidential data that identifies individual units. Private companies are not permitted to receive this kind of data (company names, addresses, etc.). 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

Files could theoretically be used for longitudinal analysis:

- files such as the Generic Survey Universe File (SUF)
- files such as the Generic Survey Interface File (SIF).

These two files provide a preview of the population of units in scope for survey programs. They are available in monthly snapshots for the last twenty four months and annually before that.

However, users should be aware that methodological changes might affect longitudinal analysis, e.g. change in the method of identifying inactive units, and that there is no revision to previous reference periods to take these changes into account.

The Canadian Business Counts (CBC) product provides counts of active business locations on the basis of several variables, such as geography, business activity and employment size. However, it is not advised to use this product for time-series analysis involving comparisons across reference periods.

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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