What is an ABN

Your ABN is an 11-digit number that represents your business to the gov, other businesses and the public in Australia. Legally you are required to have an ABN if you want to start an enterprise in Australia, or if you want to register for GST (Goods and Services Tax). 

You are required to register for GST if your business has a GST turnover of $75,000 or more ($150,000 for not-for-profit businesses). 

If you don’t have to register for GST, you are still expected to have an ABN.

How to get an ABN

There are three ways to apply for an ABN in Australia. The following are the methods. 

    • Registered through the ABR, for free (Australian Business Register)
    • Through your Tax agent
    • Download the form, complete it, mail it

You have to be a business entity to apply for an ABN. There are 4 types of entities. 

    • Individual/ sole trader 
    • Partnership
    • Company
    • Trust 

11 Things to note when applying an ABN

These questions are some that you should ask yourself before you apply for your ABN. Your answer will relate to your ABN application as these are the details that you have to give to the government.

  • Do you have a previously registered ABN?

In the case that you have applied for an ABN at a previous date, you must provide the details of your previous application. Use this link to see if you have an ABN already.

  • Are you using the services of a tax agent? 

Tax agents are representatives that can resolve any issues with the ATO on your behalf. If you are currently being represented by a tax agent, you can provide their registration number, which is usually found on an income tax return.

  • Do you have an ACN or Australian Registered Body Number?

All companies and registrable Australian businesses must register with ASIC before applying for an ABN. Once registered, ASIC will give you an ACN or an ARBN (Australian Registered Body Number). 

  • The name of your business 

If you are a business organisation, you must give the legal name of your business entity, which will be shown on all official business documents and legal papers. If you’re an individual, use your own name will suffice.

  • What is your TFN 

You TFN can allow quick application for an ABN online. During the application, you can give your own TFN and/or the TFN of any of your business associates. Without a TFN, your ABN application may be stalled.

  • Where is your business location 

Details such as the following

    • Street address
    • Business activity details 
    • Phone and email contacts 
  • What are your contact details 

You have to nominate a contact during your application to deal with all issues related to the business’s ABN, make changes and updates when required. This could be yourself, or a person who you nominate who will bear this responsibility. 

You have to give these following details for this person.

    • Name 
    • Position held
    • Mobile, phone and fax numbers (if applicable)
    • Email address 
  • The details of your business associates 

Based on your entity (Sole Trader, Partnership, Company and Trust), your business associates may be Individuals or Organisations

    • If your associates are Individuals, then you must provide their 
      • Date of birth 
      • Gender 
      • Position held 
      • TFN 
      • Residential address
    • If they are an Organisation, then you must provide their
      • ACN or ARBN (if applicable)
      • ABN 
      • TFN or address 
      • Date of formation 
  • Describe the main activity of your business 

You will be required to give out what your main income-generating activity is for your business. 

If you work in multiple locations, you may be required to give out the main business activity for each locale.

  • When do you need your ABN 

You have to specify the date when you need your ABN. Typically, it should be on the date that you want to start your business. 

  • Are you providing the correct information 

At the end of your application, you must declare that all the information you have provided is true and accurate. This is to ensure you can be held accountable for dishonesty.