A guide to obtaining an Australian Business Number (ABN)

Read our guide to what an Australian Business Number (ABN) is, and how to apply for it.

Helen Cockle

Getting an Australian Business Number (ABN) when registering a business is a crucial step. This is why we've compiled this short guide on how to obtain an Australian company number.

ABN - explained

An ABN is an 11-digit number used to identify a registered business to the government. Having an ABN allows your business to claim goods and services tax credits, get an Australian domain name, avoid pay-as-you-go tax and claim energy grants credits. The ABN is also used to identify your company when invoicing. Without an ABN number on the invoices, a supplier may have to withhold tax from their payment in accordance with the PAYG withholding scheme. By contrast, your company may not be eligible for an ABN if you are working as a contractor or employee. Also, renting out residential property rarely leads to PAYG withholding obligations. Therefore, as a property investor, you may not need an ABN.

An ABN is an 11-digit number used to identify a registered business to the government.

Applying for an ABN

You can apply for an ABN online via the website of the Australian Government/ Australian Business Register. For the application, prepare business details such as proof of identity, details of your business associates and activity as well as information on the structure of the company. If successful, you will receive your business's ABN immediately.  The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may need to review your application within 20 business days if they require additional information or encounter problems verifying your identity.

There is no fee for applying for an ABN online. This means you can start this process before any cash inflows into your business.

Changing your business details

Once your company has been issued its ABN details, it is your responsibility to keep the information on your business up to date. If any changes occur, do make sure to update your information within 28 days. However, if your business structure changes (eg from a sole trader to a partnership), you do need to apply for a new ABN.

Keeping the information of a business up to date
Once your company has been issued its ABN details, it is your responsibility to keep the information on your business up to date.

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