How to Register for HST: A Guide for Ottawa Business Owners

As the entrepreneurial spirit continues to flourish in Ottawa, one of the fundamental steps every new business owner needs to take is understanding their tax obligations. Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) is a core aspect of this. Whether you’re operating a tech startup in Kanata, a cozy café in the ByWard Market, or offering consulting services in Nepean, registering for HST is crucial. Let’s delve into the how-to!

1. Determine Your Eligibility

Before you consider registering, ensure that your business surpasses the $30,000 threshold in four consecutive calendar quarters. However, even if you haven’t met this threshold, voluntary registration can offer some benefits like claiming input tax credits.

2. Choose the Right Time

You have 29 days from the day your business exceeds the $30,000 threshold to register for HST. Proactive Ottawa business owners often choose to register even before hitting this benchmark to be prepared.

3. Register Online

The most efficient way is through the CRA’s Business Registration Online (BRO) service. This portal allows you to manage various business accounts, making it an essential tool for Ottawa entrepreneurs.

4. Gather Necessary Information

Before registering, make sure you have:

  • Business details, including its name, address, and type.
  • The date you first made a taxable sale or service in Ottawa (or elsewhere in Canada).
  • A description of the goods or services you offer.

5. Understand Your Reporting Period

The frequency you need to file and the method (quick, simplified, or regular method) depends on your business’s annual taxable supplies. Familiarize yourself with the various reporting periods to stay compliant.

6. Know the Benefits

Once registered, you can claim Input Tax Credits (ITC) on HST paid or owed on business-related purchases. This can result in significant savings, especially for startups with considerable initial investments.

7. Stay Updated

Tax laws and regulations can change. Ottawa business owners should regularly check the CRA’s HST updates and possibly consult with local accounting professionals familiar with the Ottawa business landscape.


Registering for HST might seem daunting at first, but it’s a straightforward process, and the benefits often outweigh the initial effort. As Ottawa continues to emerge as a hub for entrepreneurs, ensuring your business adheres to tax regulations becomes even more vital. If you’re uncertain or need guidance, always consider seeking advice from local accounting experts.

more insights