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How to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN)

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and community.

An ABN doesn't replace your tax file number, but it is used for various tax and other business purposes.

You may apply for an ABN for free at any time through the Australian Business Register website.

Do I need an ABN?

Not everyone needs an ABN. To get one you need to be carrying on an enterprise.

If you apply for an ABN and you're not entitled, your application may be refused. You'll be sent a letter explaining why.

With an ABN you can:

  • confirm your business identity to others when ordering and invoicing
  • avoid Pay as You Go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive
  • claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits
  • claim energy grants credits
  • obtain an Australian domain name.

For more information about your entitlement to an ABN visit the Australian Business Register (ABR) website.

How do I apply for an ABN?

Applying for an ABN is free. To apply for an ABN online, visit the Australian Business Register website.

Do I need to register an ABN and a business name separately?

You can register for a business name at the same time as your ABN application. If you choose not to register for both at the same time you will need to go to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to register your business name. You can do this after you get your ABN.

Business names are administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

As your registered business name may sometimes be referred to as an Australian business name or trading name, it's important to understand the difference between your Australian Business Number (ABN) and your registered business name. Visit the register your business name page for more information.

I want to register a company. Do I apply for an Australian Company Number (ACN) or an ABN first?

You will need to register your ACN first, then your ABN. For information on applying for an ACN and to download an application form, visit How to register a company on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website.

How long does it take to get an ABN?

If you provide all the required information when applying online, you'll receive an online notification of your ABN immediately after completing your application.

If your identity cannot be confirmed, or more information is needed, the ABR will review your application within 20 business days. They may contact you if they need more information.

My business details have changed. Who do I need to inform?

You must inform the ABR within 28 days of becoming aware of any changes to your ABN registration details. Please note that when you change your business structure you may also be required to register a new ABN.

Visit the Update your ABN details page on the ABR website for more information about updating you ABN information.

When you make changes to your business, you may also need to change your business name details. To do this, you must inform the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

How can I find an ABN?

If you want to look up information about a registered ABN, such as to check that your details are up to date or check the details of a supplier, you can do this on the ABN Lookup website. ABN Lookup allows you to search publicly available information supplied by businesses when they register for an Australian Business Number (ABN).

When and how do I cancel my ABN?

If you're closing your business, or changing your business structure, it's likely you'll need to cancel your ABN.

You'll need to cancel your ABN when changing from a:

  • sole trader to a company
  • sole trader to partnership
  • partnership to company.

If your business is no longer operating you need to cancel your ABN on the ABR website.

ABR Contact information

Contact the ABR to find out how your application for an ABN is progressing, to update your ABN or to cancel your registration.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2016.

The article was first published on business.gov.au

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1 comments

user
  • user
    An entity can only claim GST credits if it is registered for GST. Obtaining a ABN and registering for GST are 2 separate decisions or actions. It is certainly possible for a micro business to have a ABN and not be registered for GST. Registration for GST is compulsory once forward looking Sales are greater than $75,000 per year (exclusions apply eg taxi drivers). It is possible to voluntarily register for GST but the effort and cost of preparing quarterly/annual GST Return may outweigh the amount of GST credits claimed. An entity with an ABN but not registered for GST issues an Invoice not a Tax Invoice. Business Owners should communicate regularly with their BAS or Tax Agent. Duncan Smith' Business Advice + Tax Regular Contributor to the MYOB Community
    • Duncan Smith
    • 08 Nov 2016
    • 08:36 PM
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