An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit number that identifies your business or organisation to the government and community.
Before applying for an ABN, you need to make sure that you are entitled to do so. You may face prosecution or criminal charges if you apply for an ABN, register for GST and claim GST refunds when you’re not entitled.
You’re entitled to an ABN if you’re:
- carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia
- making supplies connected with Australia’s indirect tax zone
- a Corporations Act company.
You will also need to have decided on the right structure for your business, for example, sole trader or company. When deciding on your structure, it is best to seek legal advice on the best structure to suit you and your business.
Requirements for ABN application
To complete your ABN application – depending on your circumstances – you’ll need your:
- Tax File Number (TFN) and the TFNs of any associates – e.g. partners, directors and trustees. (read more on applying for a TFN)
- Tax or BAS agents registered agent number, if you use a registered agent
- Professional adviser number – if you’re using the services of a professional adviser, you can provide their licence number e.g. Australian Financial Services licence (AFS licence)
- Any previously held ABNs
- Australian company number (ACN) or Australian registered body number (ARBN). Companies and registrable organisations can register for an ACN or ARBN through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC)
- The date your ABN is required. This should be the date that you expect to start any business activities – e.g. buying stock. This date can’t be more than six months in the future when you apply
- Entity legal name – appears on all official documents or legal papers (read more on entity legal names)
- Any authorised contacts – this can be a registered tax or BAS agent if they are authorised to make changes or update information on behalf of the entity
- Associates’ details – associate requirements are different for each entity type (read more on associate details for specific entities)
- Business contact details including an address, postal address, email address and phone number. Your email address must meet requirements such as; being between 5 – 200 characters, contain no spaces and not start with ‘support@’, ‘Sales@’ or ‘info@’
- Business activity – usually the main source of income for your enterprise e.g. agriculture, construction, investment and manufacturing. Self-managed super funds may not be carrying on a business and therefore might not have a main business activity
- Business locations – provide businesses physical locations for all premises operated by your enterprise, unless there’s a risk to safety of individuals as a result of the disclosure e.g. a women’s refuge.
Business Registration Service
The Australian Government has a Business Registration Service where you can apply for key business and tax registrations in one place. Not sure which registrations you need? The Business Registration Service has a tool to help you decide the business structure that will best suit your needs and basic business and tax registrations that you should consider applying for.
The Business Registration Service has links to:
- Register for an ABN
- Register Business name
- Register for taxes (PAYG, GST and FBT)
- Register your company, apply for a company name and get an ACN
Visit the Business Registration Service website