Register an ABN: A Step-by-Step Guide to Obtaining Your Australian Business Number

What is an Australian Business Number ABN?

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier issued by the Australian government to individuals, companies, partnerships, and other entities conducting business activities within Australia. It serves as a way to simplify various government processes, including tax collection, business registration, and interactions with government agencies. Read below to find out the best way to register an ABN.

What are the benefits of obtaining an ABN?

Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) offers numerous benefits for individuals and businesses operating in Australia. Some key advantages include:

  1. Legitimacy: An ABN lends credibility to your business, signaling to customers, suppliers, and partners that you are a legitimate entity.
  2. Simplifies Taxation: It streamlines the taxation process, allowing you to claim input tax credits, manage your Goods and Services Tax (GST), and meet your tax obligations effectively.
  3. Access to Government Services: Many government services and permits require an ABN. It’s a prerequisite for participating in government tenders and contracts.
  4. Facilitates Business Transactions: Having an ABN makes it easier to conduct business transactions, open business bank accounts, and apply for credit with suppliers.
  5. Avoiding Withholding Tax: Without an ABN, other businesses may need to withhold tax from payments made to you, which can impact your cash flow.
  6. Legal Compliance: Registering an ABN ensures you comply with Australian business laws and regulations.

In summary, obtaining an ABN is essential for operating a business in Australia, as it not only simplifies administrative processes but also enhances your business’s credibility and access to various opportunities.

How much does it cost to get an ABN?

Obtaining an ABN is generally free. The Australian government does not charge a fee for the ABN application itself. However, it’s essential to be cautious because some third-party service providers may offer assistance with the application process for a fee.

While the ABN itself doesn’t cost anything, you might incur other costs associated with your business operations, such as registering for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or other licenses and permits, depending on your business type and activities. These additional obligations could have associated fees.

To get your ABN for free, you can apply directly through the official Australian government website or contact the Australian Business Register (ABR). Be cautious of any service that charges a fee for the ABN application process itself, as it is not necessary.

How much does it cost to activate an ABN?

Activating an Australian Business Number (ABN) does not incur a separate cost. Once you have successfully obtained an ABN, it’s automatically active and ready to use for your business activities. The ABN itself is a free identifier issued by the Australian government to individuals and entities conducting business within Australia.

How do I apply for an ABN?

Applying for an Australian Business Number (ABN) is a relatively straightforward process, and you can do it online through the official Australian government website. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for an ABN:

  1. Gather Necessary Information: Before you begin, make sure you have all the required information, including your personal details, business details, and other relevant information.
  2. Access the ABN Application: Visit the Australian Business Register (ABR) website ( and search for the “Apply for an ABN” link or use the “Apply for an ABN” button if available on the homepage.
  3. Start the Application: Follow the prompts to start your ABN application. You’ll be asked a series of questions to determine your eligibility and the appropriate ABN type for your situation.
  4. Provide Information: Complete the online form, providing accurate and detailed information about your business structure, activities, and contact details.
  5. Declaration: Review the information you’ve provided, make any necessary corrections, and then declare that the information is accurate and complete.
  6. Submit the Application: Once you’ve reviewed and confirmed your details, submit the application electronically. You’ll receive a reference number for your application.
  7. Wait for Processing: ABN applications are typically processed within 20 business days, although you may receive your ABN sooner in many cases.

How do I apply for an ABN with a paper application form?

If you prefer a paper application, you can download the “Application for ABN registration for individuals (sole traders)” form from the ABR website, complete it, and mail it to the address provided on the form.

Applying for ABN is free. Be cautious of third-party services that offer to apply for an ABN on your behalf for a fee, as this service is unnecessary and you can easily apply for an ABN yourself.

Once you receive your ABN, remember to keep your details up to date, as changes in your business structure or activities may require updates to your ABN registration. Additionally, be aware of any additional obligations, such as registering for the Goods and Services Tax (GST), depending on your business’s circumstances.

Do I need an ABN if I am a sole trader?

Yes, if you are operating as a sole trader in Australia, you typically need an Australian Business Number (ABN). An ABN is essential for conducting business legally and simplifies various administrative processes. It’s required for invoicing, claiming tax deductions, and registering for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) if your annual turnover exceeds the threshold. Additionally, having an ABN allows you to identify your business in transactions, enhancing your credibility with clients and suppliers. While it’s not mandatory, having an ABN is highly recommended for sole traders as it streamlines business operations and ensures compliance with taxation and regulatory requirements.

How long does it take to register with ABN?

Registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN) typically takes around 20 business days to process. However, many applications are processed more quickly, often within a few business days. The actual timeframe can vary depending on factors such as the accuracy of your application, the complexity of your business structure, and the current workload of the Australian Business Register (ABR). To expedite the process, ensure your application is complete and accurate. You’ll receive a reference number upon submission, which you can use to track your application’s status online. If urgency is a concern, you can inquire about expedited processing or apply well in advance of needing your ABN.

Do I need to renew an ABN?

No, you do not need to renew an Australian Business Number (ABN). Once you’ve obtained an ABN, it remains active indefinitely as long as your business continues to operate. However, it’s crucial to keep your ABN details up to date. If there are significant changes in your business structure or activities, you should update your ABN registration accordingly. The Australian Business Register (ABR) regularly reviews and updates ABN details based on the information provided by businesses and government agencies. Failing to keep your ABN details accurate can lead to compliance issues and may affect your eligibility for certain government services and benefits.

Legal advice

Our highly experienced solicitors at our sister company, Legal Kitz can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation, ensuring that your concerns are addressed. You can also request to book a FREE consultation or contact them at or 1300 988 954. You can also check out our Business Kitz subscription service today to begin your business with a solid foundation that ensures legal compliance.

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