If you're applying for an Australian business number (ABN), you can also apply for a business name and register for secure online authentication and taxes, like GST and PAYG withholding, at the same time.
As not everyone is entitled to an ABNExternal Link, you will be asked a series of questions when applying for one to determine your entitlement.
If you're setting up business as an individual (a 'sole trader'), it will speed things up if you provide your tax file number (TFN) when you apply. Companies should provide their Australian company number (ACN).
An ABN is a unique 11-digit identifier that makes it easier for businesses and all levels of government to interact.
You will need an ABN to:
- operate in the GST system, including claiming GST credits
- avoid pay as you go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive
- confirm your business identity to others when ordering and invoicing
- access government online services (when linked to your myGovID in Relationship Authorisation Manager)
- be endorsed as a gift deductible recipient or an income tax exempt charity.
Ensure you keep your ABN details up to date in the Australian Business Register.
If you cease business, you will need to cancel your ABN. Before doing this, make sure you've met all your lodgment, reporting and payment obligations such as activity statements and PAYG withholding reports.
How to apply for or cancel an ABN
You can apply for or cancel an ABN, or apply to have an ABN you previously held reissued:
- online using the Australian Business RegisterExternal Link
- through your registered tax agent or BAS agent.
You can also lodge an Application to cancel registration (NAT 2955) form with us to cancel your ABN. You can order this form using our online publication ordering service for businessExternal Link.
Read more about Changing, selling or closing your business.
To securely access a number of government online business services like Online services for business or Australian Business Register (ABR), you need a secure way to verify your business identity.
You can do this using myGovID and Relationship Authorisation Manager (RAM).
Before registering for a service, check your system is compatible.
Most businesses will need to apply for a registered business name with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).
You can carry on a business in your own name without registering a business name if you don't change or add anything to your name. For example, John Smith doesn't have to register a name to trade as J Smith or John Smith, but he does to trade as John Smith Landscaping.
To apply for a registered business nameExternal Link you will need to have applied for or have an ABN.
By 31 October 2018 all businesses will need to register all trading names as a business name with ASIC in order to continue operating with it. ABN Lookup will only display business names registered with ASIC from this date.
If you plan to run your business through a company, you need to register your companyExternal Link and get an ACN. You do this with ASIC when you start your company. You need to get your ACN before you can get your ABN and tax registrations.
If you want to become a director of a company, you'll need to apply for a director identification numberExternal Link (director ID). You must apply for your own director ID to verify your identity with the Registrar of the Australian Business Registry Services (ABRS).To register for GST you must get an ABN. If you don't have an ABN for your business, other businesses have to withhold 49% of their payments to you.