The Essential Guide to ABN Checks: What You Need to Know The Essential Guide to ABN Checks: What You Need to Know

What is an ABN?

The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit identifier that plays a crucial role in the Australian business landscape. Whether you’re a business owner, a contractor, or simply a curious individual, understanding ABN checks is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what ABNs are, why they matter, and how to perform ABN checks effectively.

An ABN, or Australian Business Number, is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Government to identify businesses and other entities operating in Australia. It is a crucial part of the Australian tax system and is required for various business activities, including trading, invoicing, and claiming Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits.

Who needs an ABN?

ABNs are typically required for:

  1. Sole Traders: Individuals operating a business under their own name.
  2. Partnerships: Businesses with two or more partners.
  3. Companies: Registered companies.
  4. Trusts: Entities operating under a trust structure.
  5. Not-for-profit Organizations: Charities, associations, and other non-profit entities that engage in business activities.

Why do ABN’s matter?

Legal requirement:

First and foremost, having an ABN is a legal requirement for many businesses in Australia. Operating without one when required can lead to penalties and legal consequences.

Tax purposes:

ABNs are used for taxation purposes, including:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): Businesses with an ABN can claim GST credits on their expenses.
  • Income Tax: An ABN helps the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) track business income and taxation liabilities.
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG) Withholding: For businesses that need to withhold tax from payments to employees and contractors.

Credibility and trust:

Having an ABN can instill trust and credibility in your business. Customers and suppliers often check the validity of an ABN when engaging in business transactions.

Access to government benefits

Certain government grants, subsidies, and programs are only accessible to businesses with a valid ABN.

How can I obtain an ABN?

For full instructions on how to get an ABN today, you can check out Business Kitz’s blog, A Guide on How to Register an ABN.

Applying for an ABN:

You can apply for an ABN through the Australian Business Register (ABR) website or by using a registered tax agent. The application process involves providing information about your business structure, activities, and tax obligations.

Waiting for approval:

After submitting your application, you will receive an ABN immediately in most cases. However, in some instances, the ATO may need additional information before issuing an ABN.

Keeping your ABN updated:

It’s essential to keep your ABN details up-to-date to avoid issues with tax and compliance. You can update your ABN details online through the ABR portal.

What is an ABN check?

ABN Check defined:

An ABN check is a process of verifying the authenticity and validity of an ABN. It is a valuable step when entering into business transactions, hiring contractors, or collaborating with other entities.

Why perform an ABN Check?

Performing an ABN check is crucial for several reasons:

  • Legal Compliance: Ensures that the business you are dealing with is operating within the law.
  • Tax Compliance: Verifies that the entity can legally invoice for services and claim GST credits.
  • Avoiding Scams: Protects against fraudulent or unregistered businesses.
  • Due Diligence: Helps make informed business decisions and manage risks.

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Online ABN lookup tool:

The easiest way to perform an ABN check is to use the official Australian Business Register’s online ABN Lookup tool. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ABN Lookup website: Go to the official ABN Lookup website (
  2. Enter the ABN: Input the 11-digit ABN you want to verify in the search field.
  3. Check the details: The tool will display the business’s ABN details, including its name, registration status, and GST status.
  4. Confirm the details: Ensure that the information matches the entity you are dealing with.

Third-Party Services:

Several third-party services also offer ABN verification tools and services. These services may provide additional information, such as business background and financial history. However, it’s essential to verify the legitimacy of third-party providers before using their services.

When Should You Perform an ABN Check?

Hiring contractors:

Before hiring contractors or service providers, it’s wise to perform an ABN check to ensure they are legitimate and eligible for the services they offer. This step can protect you from engaging with unregistered or fraudulent businesses.

Entering business transactions:

When entering into business transactions, such as purchasing goods or services, it’s advisable to verify the ABN of the supplier. This not only ensures legal compliance but also helps you claim GST credits if applicable.

Collaborating with other entities:

Collaborating with other businesses or entities may involve shared responsibilities and financial transactions. Verifying the ABN of your collaborators is a smart move to maintain transparency and legal compliance in your partnership.

What to do if the ABN is invalid?

Invalid ABN:

If you discover that the ABN you checked is invalid or not registered, take the following steps:

  1. Contact the business: Reach out to the business or entity in question and inquire about the discrepancy. There may be a simple administrative error that can be rectified.
  2. Seek legal advice: If you suspect fraudulent activity or are unable to resolve the issue, consult with legal professionals or government authorities for guidance.
  3. Report to authorities: If you believe you’ve encountered a fraudulent business, report it to the Australian Taxation Office and relevant authorities.

ABN checks are a fundamental part of conducting business in Australia. Whether you’re a business owner, contractor, or consumer, understanding how to perform ABN checks is crucial for legal compliance, financial security, and peace of mind. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently navigate the Australian business landscape while ensuring that you engage with legitimate and compliant entities.

Remember, an ABN check is a simple yet powerful tool that can protect you and your business from potential pitfalls and fraudulent activities. Always verify the ABN of the entities you deal with to make informed decisions and build trust in your business relationships.

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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