Wikidata:Property proposal/Business Number (Canada)

business number in CanadaEdit

Originally proposed at Wikidata:Property proposal/Organization


The Canadian Business Number (BN) is attributed to all legal entities incorporated or registered in Canada as soon as they interact with the federal government for tax, payroll, charitable or other purposes. Although the Canadian BN is currently not easy to retrieve (see below), its high prevalence makes the BN a useful identifier for disambiguating legal entities, especially in domains where global unique persistent identifiers do not exist or do not have broad adoption in Canada.

The BN may be particularly useful for data collection activities currently conducted as part of a WMF project grant for Modelling and Populating Performing Arts Data in Wikidata. In the performing arts domain, people often confuse a venue and the legal entity that operates/manages it. This is a very common problem in Wikidata and in other knowledge bases. As the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts and its partners are undertaking collection of organization information with the intent of uploading this information as structured data into the knowledge graph and in Wikidata, we believe asking the BN would encourage data providers to make a conceptual distinction between the organization and the venue operated by the organization.

The BN can also serve data integration/reconciliation purposes for several other use cases. For example, in its Integrated Business Statistics Program, Statistics Canada is increasingly relying on administrative sources and industry sources to supplement its own survey programs. The unique identifier used for record linkage by Statistics Canada is the BN.

During early consultations, prior to the submission of this proposal, fellow Wikidata users noted that a few Canadian provinces have not harmonized their business registration process with the federal government. Consequently, these provinces do not automatically attribute a BN to newly registered businesses under their jurisdiction. There may therefore be a delay before these newly registered businesses interact with the federal government and are attributed a BN. This lack of harmonization further presents issues for retrieving BNs. Two distinct directories must be searched to retrieve businesses. A first search must be performed with the Federal corporation search. If the organization can't be found, a second search must be performed in Canada's business registries, for businesses registered under a provincial law.

In spite of these limitations, the BN has been gaining prevalence in Canada as a unique identifier for legal entities over the last decade. It used as a common identifier by most provinces and, since 2012, by municipalities (Government of Manitoba, Provincial And Federal Governments Welcome Winnipeg As First Canadian Municipality To Adopt National Business Number, October 17, 2012).

For all the above reasons, I believe it is time to introduce a property for the Canadian Business Number (as it exists for at least 30 other countries).

Fjjulien (talk) 04:05, 30 October 2020 (UTC)


  •   Support Simon Villeneuve (talk) 14:37, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Véronique Marino (talk) 14:47, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Saumier (talk) 19:28, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Vid (talk) 22:50, 30 October 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Beireke1 (talk) 08:29, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support ChristianBRoy (talk) 14:19, 2 November 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support Amqui (talk) 04:11, 7 November 2020 (UTC)
  • @Fjjulien: The formatter URL in this proposal produces no data for these ID's - or at least for the ones I tried. Can you find a better formatter, or is there not really one that works for this? ArthurPSmith (talk) 18:47, 7 November 2020 (UTC)
    • @ArthurPSmith: Thanks for pointing this mistake out. The formatter URL I mistakingly provided in the proposal is for the federal corporation number, not for the Business Number. The federal corporation number is a federal-only ID, and it is only assigned to entities incorporated under certain federal legislations (such as the Canada Not-for-Profit Corporations Act). It is far less prevalent than the Business Number and is therefore much less useful for disambiguating legal entities registered in Canada (hence the proposal for the Business Number). After further research, there appears to be no formatter URL for the Business Number. I amended the property proposal accordingly. Fjjulien (talk) 03:52, 11 November 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support   Don't ping me NMaia (talk) 01:53, 11 November 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support --1-Byte (talk) 10:18, 13 November 2020 (UTC)
  •   Support sounds good even though there is no format URL --Hannes Röst (talk) 14:55, 16 November 2020 (UTC)
@Fjjulien, Simon Villeneuve, Vero Marino, Saumier, Vid, Beireke1: @ChristianBRoy, Amqui, ArthurPSmith, 1-Byte, Hannes Röst:   Done Canada Business Number (P8860) Pamputt (talk) 21:57, 24 November 2020 (UTC)