The Australian business number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier that makes it easier for businesses and all levels of government to interact – says Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

ABN is issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) for those business visa holders who intend to set up a business or to manage a business in Australia. A person who is either an employee or using resources of an employer to conduct a business need not apply for ABN.

Australian Tax Office (ATO) supervises the issuance of ABNs. A specific business number for people interested in having business in Australia is introduced on 1st of July 2000 by John Howard’s government.

Australian Business Number holders have different tax and superannuation regulations. Such as declaring income, contributing to their own superannuation fund, registering for GST, if applicable, etc.

It is essential that the required visa holders get an ABN and update it regularly. Many government agencies need this number to provide demographically targeted community services, infrastructure facilities or other provisions depending on the region your business is established. It is a single identification number that that can connect your business with various government agencies and departments.

The ABN details get stored in Australian Business Register. If the ABN details are changing, you must inform at ABR within 28 days of a change in your details or termination of your business. The business number gets cancelled if you are not meeting the requirements of holding an ABN, that is if you have stopped conducting the business.

How to Apply for an ABN?

There are three ways to apply for the business number in Australia.

  1. Through Australian Business Register official website
  2. Through paper application
  3. Through tax agents

There are no fees to apply for an Australian Business Number if it is applied independently. If the business visa holders are applying for ABN through a tax agent, professional charges are applicable for engaging the services of a specialist.

If the applicant provided information is complete and verifiable, the ABN is generated immediately after the application is filled and submitted online. However, the omission of information or lack of identity proof may extend the time taken to provide an ABN. It takes 20 working days for the ATO to process your ABN application manually.

You can check the process status of an ABN application here

Multiple businesses and one ABN

If the business structure of your other business enterprises is the same as the one you have got your ABN for, then you can start multiple business ventures on a single ABN.

For businesses that have different business structure, you need to apply for individual ABNs for each venture.

The ABN gets cancelled if you are changing your business structure. Say, from being a sole trading enterprise to a company or from being a company to a partnership entity or a trust.

What an ABN allows you to do?

ATO allots an ABN only to those entities who are entitled to it. Not everyone needs or can get an ABN.

Here’s what an ABN lets you do:

  • Get an Australian domain name for your business website
  • Get GST credits from the government
  • Confirm your business identity to others (such as business partners, communities) while ordering or invoicing for goods or services.
  • Avoid paying PAYG (Pay As You Go) tax on payment receivables
  • Get energy grants credits
  • Service delivery
  • Implement and manage infrastructure for your business
  • Avail disaster rescue aid for your business and community

ABN is different from Australian Company Number (ACN) and Tax File Number (TFN)

The Australian Company Number is a 9-digit unique number issued by the ASIC Australian Securities and Investments Commission to the companies registered under Commonwealth Corporations Act 2001. ACN needs to be mentioned in every correspondence and invoices issued by the company.

The ACN remains unchanged even if a change occurs in the company name or it gets deregistered.

One can apply for ACN and ABN in a single form here

The Tax File Number (TFN) is a 9-digit unique identifying number to every entity that is eligible to pay tax, such as a sole trading or partnership company, an individual, a trust or a superannuation fund. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) issues TFN.

A business running in Australia needs to have both ABN and TFN. While ABN helps connect your business with the government bodies and community for administration purpose, the TFN is strictly used for taxation purpose. The businesses can use their ABN instead of TFN.

Reach us here so that our business migration experts can explain you about the ABN at length and help you take necessary action.