Easy Explanation of What is an ABN

If you run or are planning to run a small business in Australia, then you’ll need an ABN. You’ve probably heard the acronym before, but you might still be confused as to what an ABN actually is. In this Business Kitz article, we will cover all of the fundamentals of an ‘Australian Business Number’, including how to get your own!

What is an ABN?

ABN stands for ‘Australian Business Number’. It is a unique 11 digit number that represents your business to the government and the community. It is is used to: 

  • Identify your business to other companies when ordering and invoicing;
  • Avoid pay as you go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive;  
  • Claim goods and services tax (GST) credits; 
  • Claim energy grant credits; and 
  • Get an Australian domain name. 

How to create an ABN

Registering for an Australian business number is free and easy. You can apply for it and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service. To apply, you will need to compile some relevant documents and details. These details include:

  • a tax file number (TFN) and the the tax file number of any associates
  • If you use a registered agent, include their registered agent number
  • If you use a professional adviser, include their license number
  • If you have previously held an ABN, please provide it
  • previously held ABN
  • Australian company number (ACN) or Australian registered body number (ARBN)
  • It is helpful to include the date that you require your ABN by
  • The legal name of your entity – appears on all official documents or legal papers
  • List any authorised contacts
  • Key contact details of the business including the address, email, and phone number
  • Business contact details including an address, postal address, email address and phone number
  • Business activity – usually the main source of income for your enterprise
  • The physical locations for all premises operated by your enterprise

If you are wondering how long it will take for a successful application, you will find out as soon as you’ve completed your application.

If your identity cannot be verified or further information is needed, your application will be reviewed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) within 20 business days.

Who needs an ABN number?

Not everyone needs an Australian business number. You must own a business or another type of enterprise to gain an Australian business number. If you apply but are not eligible, your request may be declined. However, the Australian Taxation Office will explain why the application was denied.

You’re entitled to create an Australian business number if you’re: 

  • Carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia; 
  • Making supplies connected with Australia’s indirect tax zone; or
  • A Corporations Act company. 

If you are still unsure whether you are eligible. The Australian Business Register (ABR) website has a tool to find out if you are eligible for an Australian business number, this tool will help you to save time during the registration process.

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Is ABN the same as the TFN?

The short answer to this question is no. An ABN doesn’t replace your tax file number, as previously stated, an ABN  is a number that identifies your business. 

ABN and TFN serve different purposes, a TFN is your personal number for interactions with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), while an ABN is a public number used in corporate dealings and is ‘connected’ to your TFN on ATO systems.

Legal advice

Applying to register an ABN is simple. Make sure to check beforehand that you are entitled to an Australian business number and that you have all the correct and relevant information for the application. If you are still unsure about the entitlements, our sister company Legal Kitz can assist you with any business related matters. Book here now for a FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our experienced and professional team members. 

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