When 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).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
- the details of the members, trustees or directors of the corporate trustee are incorrect or incomplete.
To avoid common mistakes, refer to:
- Create the trust and trust deed – offers information about setting up a fund
- Associate details – outlines the information you'll be asked for
- Eligibility to register and get an ABN
- What you need for your registration and ABN application
Tax professionals can use the Australian Business Register's tax professional's services to register SMSFs and apply for an ABNExternal Link on behalf of their clients.
Registering your SMSF isn't the first step in setting up an SMSF.
Before you register, you must already have:
- considered appointing professionals to help you
- chosen individual trustees or a corporate trustee
- in the case of a corporate trustee
- created the trustee company, or
- ensured that the pre-existing company you have chosen is eligible to act as corporate trustee
- appointed trustees or directors of the corporate trustee
- created a trust (including transferring an asset to the trust)
- checked that your fund is an Australian super fund
- ensured the company can act as a corporate trustee.
Once you have completed these steps then you are ready to register. Obtaining an ABN is part of the registration process.
The SMSF registration and ABN application form is easier to complete if you have the right information at hand when you apply.
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, call us on 13 10 20 if you want it to be reinstated.
SMSFs must answer
For taxation purposes which type of entity is the applicant?
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: On or after 1 July 2006, new SMSFs must be registered as accumulation funds. Defined benefit funds were only available for a fund that was established before 1 July 2006).
An entity must be an Australian super fund in order to be an SMSF.
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.
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.
The SMSF came into existence on the date that you created the trust.
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.
Your SMSF must have a bank account in the name of the fund for your SMSF members’ super payments (such as rollovers and contributions) to be paid into. It also needs to have a bank account for tax refunds, this can be the SMSFs bank account or your Tax Agent’s bank account, see Set up a bank account.
Provide your SMSFs bank account
Once you have your SMSFs bank account, you must provide the details to us by using:
- Online services for business
- your registered agent
- phone us on 13 10 20.
For more information, see Notify us of changes.
Electronic service address alias
You can provide your SMSFs electronic service address (ESA) alias when you register for an ABN.
Your SMSF needs a registered ESA:
- to receive non-related employer contributions
- make electronic release authorities
- for members to rollover super to and from your SMSF.
For electronic release authorities and rollovers, the ESA needs to be SuperStream enabled.
For more information, see register of SMSF messaging providers who can give you an ESA.
To avoid delays you must register with an ESA provider and provide us with your SMSF's ESA before contributions, electronic release authorities or rollovers can be received by your SMSF.
You must nominate at least one authorised contact.
The associates of an SMSF are the:
- individual trustees
- corporate trustee
- 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.
To register as an SMSF, you need to formally elect for the fund to be regulated by us.
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:
- interest and dividends
- residential rent or income generated outside Australia.
However, it does include gross income from the lease of equipment or commercial property.
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 (us).
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'. This takes up to 56 days. An SMSF with this status is treated as complying and is eligible to receive rollovers and employer contributions. Within seven days of the SMSF being displayed on SFLU as 'Registered', a Notice of compliance will issue to the SMSF and their SFLU status will then be displayed as 'Complying'.
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.
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 SMSF applicant 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 2 months, but it can take longer where a more extensive investigation is needed or the applicant trustees do not assist us fully.Register your SMSF with us. You can elect for your fund to be regulated by us, get a TFN and ABN and register for GST.