Show download pdf controls
  • Register your fund and get an ABN

    Once your fund is established and all trustees have been appointed (including signing the Trustee declaration), you have 60 days to register the SMSF with us by applying for an Australian business number (ABN).

    Check if your SMSF is eligible to register and get an ABN.

    Next step: Use the ABN application form to register your SMSF and get an ABN.

    Register your SMSF and apply for an ABN

    When completing the ABN application you should:

    • ask for a tax file number (TFN) for your fund
    • elect for your fund to be an ATO-regulated SMSF. If you don't, your fund will not receive tax concessions and the members’ employers can't claim deductions for contributions
    • register for GST (if necessary).

    Two common errors in applications to register an SMSF and get an ABN are:

    • The SMSF trust is not set up correctly before applying for an ABN (including setting aside an asset as the SMSF's property). See Create the trust and trust deed for information about setting up a fund.
    • The details of the members, trustees or directors of the corporate trustee are incorrect or incomplete. See Associate details for details of the information you will be asked for.

    To avoid other common mistakes read the information at Eligibility to register and get an ABN and What you need for your registration and ABN application.

    On this page:

    See also:

    Registrations by tax professionals

    Tax professionals can use the Australian Business Register's 'Tax Professionals Services' to register SMSFs and apply for an ABN on behalf of their clients.

    See also:

    Eligibility to register and get an ABN

    Registering your SMSF isn't the first step in setting up an SMSF.

    Setting up outlines the steps that you must complete to set up an SMSF. Before you register, you must already have:

    • considered appointing professionals to help you
    • chosen individual trustees or a corporate trustee (and created the corporate trustee if needed)
    • appointed trustees or directors of the corporate trustee
    • created a trust (including transferring an asset to the trust – see Create the trust and the deed trust)
    • checked that your fund is an Australian super fund.

    Once you have completed these steps then you are ready to register. Obtaining an ABN is part of the registration process.

    What you need for your registration and ABN application

    The SMSF registration and ABN application form is easier to complete if you have the right information at hand when you apply.

    Find out about:

    Previous ABN or TFN

    You will be asked if the entity you are registering:

    • currently has or previously held an ABN
    • wants to apply for an ABN
    • has a TFN
    • wants to apply for a TFN.

    New SMSF applicants will not have an existing ABN or TFN and must apply for both to be registered as an SMSF.

    If the SMSF previously held an ABN and it was cancelled in error, you should call us on 13 10 20 only if you want it to be reinstated.

    Type of fund

    Questions that relate to the type of fund being registered


    SMSFs must answer

    For taxation purposes which type of entity is the applicant?

    Superannuation entity

    What type of organisation is the applicant?

    An ATO Regulated Self-Managed Superannuation Fund

    What type of fund is the applicant?

    Do not answer (leave blank)

    If the fund is a trust or government organisation, what tier of government does it belong to?

    Do not answer (leave blank)

    What is the structure of the superannuation entity?

    Accumulation fund (Note: New SMSFs must be accumulation funds. If you are applying for an ABN for a fund that was established before 2006 then it may be a defined benefit fund).

    Resident status

    An entity must be an 'Australian super fund' in order to be an SMSF.

    See also:

    Tax agent's details

    If you are using the services of a tax agent, you can provide their registration number. You can get their registration number:

    • by asking them
    • from a tax return that they have prepared for you
    • on an invoice they have given you.

    Recording your tax agent’s number against your ABN will enable them to undertake work on your behalf.

    Name of SMSF

    The name of the SMSF that you put on the registration form must be the name that you used when you created the fund's trust deed.

    We will check that you are able to use that name; if the name that you choose has already been used for an SMSF it may delay processing your registration and ABN application. You can check whether your SMSF's name has been used previously at Super Fund LookupExternal Link.

    Date SMSF came into existence

    The SMSF came into existence on the date that you created the trust.

    See also:

    SMSF business details

    You'll need to provide at least one business address for your SMSF. For each address you'll be asked for the:

    • street address
    • phone and email contacts
    • business activity details.

    The business location that you provide could be the home address of one of the trustees or the office of a professional that assists with the administration of the SMSF on an ongoing basis.

    Electronic fund transfer details

    If you have already set up an account with a bank or other financial institution, provide the SMSF's financial institution details. We will use this account when we make payments to your SMSF.

    If you have not set up an account with a financial institution, this information can be provided later, see Notify us of changes.

    The account details provided must be held by the SMSF, and in the name of the SMSF. Do not provide a tax agent's financial institution account details.

    Authorised contact details

    You must nominate at least one authorised contact.

    See also:

    Associate details

    The associates of an SMSF are the:

    • individual trustees
    • corporate trustee
    • members
    • directors of a corporate trustee.

    For all your associates, you'll need to provide:

    • for individuals – their name, date of birth, position held and either their tax file number (TFN) or residential address
    • for organisations – their legal name, ACN/ARBN/ABN if applicable, and either their TFN or address and date of formation.

    We'll use these details to identify your associates in our existing records. If we can't identify or exactly match details of an associate, your registration and ABN application will be delayed or refused.

    Election to be regulated

    In order to be registered as an SMSF, you need to formally elect for the fund to be regulated by the ATO.

    Registering for GST

    Most SMSFs don't need to register for GST because SMSFs mainly make input-taxed sales, and these don't count towards GST turnover.

    SMSFs with an annual GST turnover of more than $75,000 must register for GST. Annual GST turnover doesn't include:

    • contributions
    • interest and dividends
    • residential rent or income generated outside Australia.

    However, it does include gross income from the lease of equipment or commercial property.

    See also:

    Check your registration status

    Your fund’s details will be included in ABN lookupExternal Link and Super Fund LookupExternal Link.

    ABN lookup

    ABN lookup shows the status of your ABN. Your SMSF will appear on ABN lookup once it has an ABN after your application has been processed and your SMSF is registered.

    Super Fund Lookup

    Super Fund Lookup shows the status of the SMSF's registration with the regulator (the ATO).

    Initially, your SMSF's Super Fund Lookup status may be displayed as 'Pending'.

    Employers and other super funds will not transfer benefits to your fund until its status in Super Fund Lookup is displayed as 'Registered – status not determined'. This usually takes two to seven days. An SMSF with this status is treated as complying and is eligible to receive rollovers and employer contributions.

    If we have any concerns about your SMSF's eligibility then your Super Fund Lookup status may be displayed as 'Regulation details withheld' while we take a closer look at your application.

    Registration application delays

    We do not automatically accept every registration application we receive. We will not accept your registration if we decide that:

    • you have not completed the set up steps listed in Eligibility to register and get an ABN
    • we cannot confirm the identity of all of the SMSF's associates (trustees or directors of the corporate trustee)
    • you or another trustee (or director) of the SMSF are not able to run an SMSF within the rules.

    In many cases, the online registration and ABN application tool will check your answers as you enter them and will let you know that the SMSF cannot be registered (and an ABN cannot be provided) even before you submit the application.

    In other cases where we cannot be sure of your eligibility based on your answers alone, we will withhold your registration while we investigate. You will be unable to transfer money from another super fund into your SMSF until we complete our investigation and register your SMSF.

    For every applicant SMSF we consider all the trustees and other entities that they have controlled. We consider factors including but not limited to:

    • history of insolvency
    • crimes related to dishonesty
    • previous SMSF history
    • personal lodgment and payment history
    • super balance and income
    • information about identities that have been used fraudulently.

    If we have any concerns about your application we will withhold your registration and contact you to let you know that we are investigating your application. Most of these cases are resolved in under two months but it can take longer where a more extensive investigation is needed or the applicant trustees do not assist us fully.

    Next step:

    See also:

    Last modified: 16 Feb 2018QC 23317