What Is a Business Registration Number?

by Stephanie Ellen - Updated September 26, 2017

A Business Registration Number (BRN) identifies your business to state government for taxation and licensing purposes. You may be required by a state to obtain a BRN if you do business or ship goods to that state. Three states use BRNs to identify businesses: New York, South Carolina and Massachusetts.

Purpose

The BRN is used by states to uniquely identify your business when you pay taxes or file reports. For example, in the state of Massachusetts, you are required to obtain a BRN if you pay Massachusetts business taxes or hire employees or you are required to submit employee health care data.

Voluntary Registration

Business Registration Numbers aren't just for tax reporting purposes. The state of Massachusetts encourages tax professionals to obtain a BRN so that they can upload returns, pay taxes on behalf of clients and send in new hire reports.

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Application

New York, South Carolina and Massachusetts all offer BRN registration online. The IRS works in conjunction with the state systems; if you need to apply for both an EIN and a BRN, you can apply for both numbers at the same time by clicking on the links in the IRS's State and Federal Online Business Registration page (see the Resources section of this article).

Misconceptions

A BRN is not the same as an Employer Identification Number (EIN). In states that require a BRN, a BRN is used to file state taxes, while an EIN is used to file federal taxes. Other states may use the federal EIN to identify businesses instead of assigning a unique number.

Other Uses

The BRN may be used by companies for purposes other than taxation or licensing. For example, AT&T requires businesses that have a BRN to divulge their BRN when applying for business Internet services.

About the Author

Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.

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