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ABN Basics

Questions


Answers


What is an ABN?

The Australian Business Number (ABN) was introduced on 1 July 2000 to enable businesses in Australia to deal with a range of government departments and agencies using a single identification number. The ABN is a public number which does not replace your tax file number.

ABN registration details become part of the Australian Business Register (ABR), which the ATO maintains on behalf of the Commonwealth. You can access the publicly available information contained in the ABR through the ABN Lookup web site.

Why should I apply for an ABN?

An ABN:

  • Enables your business to claim goods and services tax (GST) credits
  • stops businesses deducting pay as you go (PAYG) withholding tax from payments to you
  • allows businesses to easily confirm your details for ordering and invoicing purposes

An ABN is required if your business registers for GST - you must register for GST if your business has an annual turnover of $75,000 or more. If your business is a not-for-profit which records annual turnover of $150,000 or more you must register for GST.

How do I apply for an ABN?

You can apply for an ABN online.

How long does it take to get an ABN?

You will receive on-line notification of your ABN upon completion of the application unless further verification is necessary. Under these circumstances your application will be processed manually by the ATO.

How much does it cost to get an ABN?

The ATO does not impose a fee for applying for an ABN online or by paper application.

How can I update my ABN details?

Simply notify the ATO of changes to your business online ». This includes changes to your business structure, contact details or legal and trading names.

How do I cancel my ABN?

You must notify the ATO if you have ceased trading or your business has been sold. Further information on ending your business can be found at the following webpage »

How do I reactivate my ABN?

You can reactivate your ABN via an online application or in writing:

  • complete the ABN application - the system will search for your previous ABN and the status will be changed to 'active' once authorised

Can I replace an ABN?

You can replace an ABN under the following circumstances:

  • an incorrect Australian Company Number (ACN) or Australian Registered Body Number (ARBN) was used to generate the ABN
  • a company has received an ABN without an ACN/ARBN embedded in it
  • the ABN holder has requested a different number

A request for a different number would only be approved where exceptional circumstances exist (e.g. for religious or cultural reasons) and the request must be in writing.

Can I use the same ABN for more than one business?

You can conduct any number of businesses/activities under the same ABN provided they all operate under the same business structure.

Is an ABN the same as a TFN?

No, an ABN is not the same as a Tax File Number (TFN). A TFN is your personal number for dealing with the ATO. An ABN is a public number used in business dealings.

What is an ACN or ARBN?

An ACN is an Australian Company Number - it is issued to an entity when it registers as a company under corporations law.

An ARBN is an Australian Registered Body Number - it is a nine digit number issued by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

For more information visit the ASIC website »

Do I need an ACN to apply for an ABN?

If you intend to register a company under the Australian Corporations Act 2001 you will need to obtain an ACN before completing your ABN application. To find out more about obtaining an ACN visit the ASIC website »

How do I register my business name?

How you register your business name depends on the type of business you conduct - read more about registering your business name at business.gov.au »

Can I add additional trading names to my ABN record?

If all businesses are conducted under the same business structure (e.g. same partners) you can use the existing ABN. To add additional trading names to your ABN you need to notify the ATO of changes to your business.

 

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