Show download pdf controls
  • Testing and lodging files

    To test and lodge files in:

    • the portal– select File transfer then Lodge file
    • Online services for agents –– select Reports and forms then File transfer. Select Lodge.

    This will display the Lodge file screen, which gives you the option to test or lodge your file:

    • Test – the file is sent to us, validated and checked for errors, but not lodged
    • Lodge – the file is sent to us, validated and lodged if no errors are detected.

    We recommend you test your files before lodging to identify any errors and reduce the need for amendments. You can then upload your file again to lodge it.

    Test files can be tested once in a 24-hour period. Retesting a file multiple times will produce a duplicate file error message.

    After you submit the file, the File status – in progress screen displays while the file is being validated. It will not be lodged if errors are detected.

    When validation is complete we'll notify you by email (if you've chosen this option).

    To view the validation report in:

    • the portal – select File status. Select the link to download the validation report
    • Online services for agents – select Reports and Forms then File Transfer. The validation report can be accessed by selecting the dropdown arrow on the File transfer screen beside the file submitted.

    If there are errors, you'll need to deal with them before re-submitting the file.

    You can see the list of files you've previously tested or lodged in:

    • the portal – select File status
    • Online services for agents – select Reports and forms then File transfer.

    When submitting a file you don't need to include any other documents with it.

    You can test or lodge files at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week (unless our systems are unavailable because of maintenance or system issues).

    On this page:

    See also:

    Validation report

    When validation is complete you can download the validation report.

    To access the validation report in:

    • the portal – select File transfer then File status
    • Online services for agents – select Reports and forms then File transfer. Select the dropdown arrow on the File transfer screen beside the file submitted.

    Information on the screen can be filtered by:

    • date range
    • file type (select option)
    • file name
    • supplier ABN
    • status (select option)
    • ATO reference.

    The validation report is only accessible to the entity that submitted the file online.

    There are four types of reports:

    • successful report – your file has been successfully tested or lodged
    • successful with warnings report – your file has been successfully submitted (either lodge or test) but it contained some fields that may not be correct. If the file has been lodged, we recommend you review the warnings and, if necessary, amend any records that need to be updated and re-lodge only the amended records in a new file
    • failed file format report – your file has been rejected because it has errors with the file format
    • failed file content report – your file has been rejected because it has errors in the file content.

    If there are warnings or errors, you'll need to deal with them and re-submit the file.

    The validation report contains both a summary and the details of any errors or warnings. It has further information to help you identify, review and correct the record, including the record number, the fields containing errors or warnings, and what is currently recorded in those fields.

    Time required to validate files

    Most files will be validated in a matter of minutes.

    The length of time depends on the number of records, the number of errors and the overall complexity of the specification and validation rules for the lodged file.

    You don't need to stay connected to our online services during validation – you can log in again later and select File transfer then File status when using the portal, or Reports and forms then File transfer when using Online services for agents to either:

    • check if validation is still in progress
    • download the completed report.

    You can also choose to be notified by email when the validation report is available.

    A number of factors influence validation performance on the day. The table below shows indicative timings for validation of large files (that is, from when the upload is complete until the validation report and file status is available).

    Note: Compressing your files reduces upload times but does not affect validation times because validation occurs on the uncompressed file.

    Uncompressed file size and validation time

    Uncompressed file size

    Estimated validation time

    1GB

    45 minutes to 1 hour

    2GB

    1.5 hours to 2 hours

    3GB

    2.5 hours to 3 hours

    5GB

    3.5 hours to 4 hours

    8GB

    5.5 hours to 7 hours

    Meaning of Supplier ABN

    The ‘Supplier ABN’ on the validation report and displayed against the file status is the Australian business number (ABN) of the data supplier. For most lodgments this is the same as the entity that submitted the file for testing or lodgment. For suppliers that don't have an ABN, a WPN (withholding payer number) will display.

    In some situations, intermediaries (for example, BAS agents or payroll providers) may lodge files where the Supplier ABN is that of their client rather than the intermediary.

    Dealing with warnings and errors

    If the validation report for your file has warnings or errors, you'll need to deal with them before re-submitting the file.

    Find out about:

    Validation warnings

    If the file validation process results in warnings only (no errors), the file has been successfully submitted (either lodge or test) but contained fields that may not be correct.

    If the file has been lodged, we recommend that you review the warnings to check that the information reported is correct. If any of the fields are incorrect, you'll need to:

    • amend the incorrect records
    • follow your software instructions for creating an amendment file (Type of Report 'A')
    • re-lodge only the amended records in a new file.

    It's important that you don't re-lodge the entire file. This may result in a duplicate lodgment.

    Not all warnings will need to be corrected. Some may be valid and require no action.

    Validation errors

    If there are errors, you'll need to correct them and re-submit the file.

    Below are suggested fixes for common errors experienced when attempting to test or lodge a file.

    Common error messages

    Error message

    Cause

    Possible fix

    The file contains non-ASCII characters. To lodge a file electronically you must first create a file that is generated from your software in a format and version supported by our systems. Scanned images or forms, screen prints, spreadsheets and word processing files (e.g. .pdf, .doc, .xls, .jpg, .tiff) cannot be lodged via the file transfer function on our online services.

    You may be trying to upload a file that is not in the correct format. 

    This error is commonly caused when:

    • the original text file has been opened in an Excel format and saved as text (tab delimited) (.txt)
    • the original file has been opened in Word and saved as a .doc file
    • a carriage return or line feed characters exist
    • extra spaces are detected in the file.  

    All files must be saved as a plain text file (e.g. .txt).

    The compressed file is corrupted and cannot be processed. Please try again.

    You have compressed a corrupted file or the file has been corrupted during the compression process.

    • Uncompress the file, save as a plain text file (e.g. .txt) and submit the uncompressed file.
    • Submit the original file. 

    The file cannot be processed, a virus has been detected.

    The file contains a virus.

    Use a virus protection product to remove the virus. 

    The file supplied is empty – it contains zero bytes.

    The file contains no data. This may be caused by an issue when the file has been saved.

    • Locate the original file (this will be 4KB or greater) and submit it. Ensure that the file was created through correct use of the software.
    • If you continue to have issues with your software, contact your digital service provider.  

    Please contact your Principal Authority or Authorisation Administrator. This type of file is not able to be sent by all authorised users.

    Certain file types require the Administrator to give permission to an Authorised user with custom or basic access to allow them to view, prepare or lodge a file.

    User permissions are set by the Principal Authority or Authorisation Administrator through Access Manager. Permissions are set according to the file type. 

    Contact your Principal Authority or Authorisation Administrator to determine if you have been given the correct permission for the type of file.

    The file is an invalid format. To lodge a file electronically you must first create a file that is generated from your software in a format and version supported by our systems. Scanned images or forms, screen prints, spreadsheets and word processing files (e.g. .pdf, .doc, .xls, .jpg, .tiff) cannot be lodged via the file transfer function on our portals.

    File is not in a text format.

    • Locate the original file created by the software product and upload the file. If you are unable to locate it or do not have it, contact your digital service provider.
    • If the file requires reformatting, contact your digital service provider. 

    The file cannot be processed as it contains a compressed file within a compressed file. 

    We cannot find the file when more than one level of compression exists.

    Uncompress the file and then upload the compressed file.

    The compressed file contains no files. Please try again.

    No file exists to upload.

    • Locate the original file created by the software product and submit the file. If you are unable to locate it or do not have it, contact your digital service provider.
    • If the file requires reformatting, contact your digital service provider.  

    The field must not contain blanks or non-numeric characters.

    Common issues include:

    • the file contains a space, symbol or alpha in a field that does not allow such characters
    • the field is a numeric field only, and should contain either a value or zeroes; it cannot be blank
    • the user may have opened the file in a Windows product (e.g. Notepad or Word) where an additional space may have been inserted; this may have an effect of pushing all the fields along, resulting in a blank in a numeric field
    • users attempting to upload a file that is not in the correct format (e.g. cannot be a .doc, .jpg etc). File must be saved as a plain text file (i.e. .txt)
    • the original text file has been opened in an Excel format and saved as text (tab delimited)
    • the file contains a carriage return (¶) or line feed (§) character.  

    The field must be entered but you did not report anything in this field. 

    This field requires a value, it cannot be blank.

    Enter a valid value.

    The field must not commence with a space.

    A field contains a space at the beginning.

    Fields are usually left justified and must start with a valid character.

    • Remove the space and retest the file.
    • If you require assistance, contact your digital service provider. 

    The name field must not contain two or more spaces between names.

    The name field has more than one space between the names.

    Insert one given name per field, or only allow one space between names. 

    Re-submitting files

    If you originally sent multiple files as a single compressed file and you receive an error, you don't need to re-send all the files, only the file that has the error.

    You should not re-send files that have successfully lodged or successfully lodged with warnings. If you want to change the data reported in a file that was successfully lodged or successfully lodged with warnings/possible errors, you'll need to lodge an amendment.

    Files that are duplicates will be identified and rejected during the validation process. The duplicate file will not be processed.

    Email notification

    When you lodge or test a file you can choose to receive an email notification when the validation report is available.

    In the portal:

    • select File transfer then Lodge file in the left-hand menu.
    • select Yes for email notification and enter an address
    • test or lodge your file.

    In Online services for agents:

    • select Reports and forms, then File transfer
    • select Lodge
    • select the checkbox Send a notification when validation report is ready and enter an address
    • test or lodge your file.

    You can opt out of this service at any time. If you are using the portal, change the option to No the next time you test or lodge a file. If you are using Online services for agents, select or deselect the checkbox Send a notification when validation report is ready.

    Choosing an email address

    The notification email address is recorded for your organisation rather than for a specific user within the organisation. Only one email address can be stored.

    If multiple people in your organisation will be using file transfer, it may be best to use a group email address that all users can access. Alternatively, the notification email address can be updated each time a file is submitted for testing or lodgment.

    • If someone in your organisation has previously opted to receive notifications, the email address they entered will be shown.
    • If the email address is changed, the new address will be used for all notifications, including for any file validations in progress (which may have been requested by other users in your organisation) and files that we subsequently send through file transfer.
    • If you use your personal email address, any reports sent by us through file transfer will go to your personal email address, not the organisation’s address.
    • Notifications can be sent only by email. SMS notification is not available at this time.
      Last modified: 21 May 2020QC 26853