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How to get an ABN?

3 min read

If you’re setting up a new business, you’ll need to know how to get an ABN in Australia – otherwise know as an Australian business number. 

Finding out how to get an ABN is one of the first steps you’ll take, and it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

But what an ABN is, what it’s used for, what information you require to apply for one, and eventually getting one is a must before commencing trade.

What is an ABN?

An ABN, or Australian business number, is a unique 11-digit identifier ascribed to all Australian businesses.

  • It’s a necessity for all businesses operating in Australia to register for an ABN. 
  • An ABN is used to process government and trade interactions and acts as a form of business ID.

What is an ABN used for?

Once you get one, your ABN needs to be provided when you conduct certain forms of formal business activity, which require identification.

What is an ABN used for

For example, your ABN is used for:

  • identifying your business to other businesses or the Australian Government during trade or compliance activity
  • registering a business name with ASIC
  • invoicing and ordering
  • registering for GST or claiming GST credits
  • claiming energy grants 
  • registering for PAYG
  • creating or registering an Australian domain name for your website
  • processing tax.

Is the ABN registration free?

Yes. It’s 100% free to register for an ABN. 

How to set up an ABN?

To set up an ABN, you simply need to register your details online and your ABN application will be processed by the Australian Government, through the Australian Business Register.

If you’re not sure if you have a previous ABN or not, you can use ABN Lookup to find out.

Online registration for an ABN

To register for an ABN online, please visit the ABN Registration Page.

Tip: it helps to set up a myGov account to assist in the ABN application process and simplify all Australian Business Register and associated Australian Government communication and activity.

What you need to register for an ABN

When registering for an ABN, you’ll need a clear idea of the nature of your business, intended source of turnover, timeline and your plans to trade.

If you’re not clear and coherent in your need to register for an ABN, your application runs the risk of rejection.

To receive an ABN, it’s also vital to fully understand which type of business structure you’re applying for, as this will affect the nature and legal obligations of your business.

You can apply for an ABN as a:

  • sole trader business 
  • partnership business 
  • company business
  • trust business

You’ll also be required to have the following information on-hand when registering for an ABN using the online form:

  • proof of identity
  • business structure type
  • tax file number (TFN) (including any business partners) from the ATO
  • business advisor or tax agent number
  • date your ABN is required 
  • previously held ABNs
  • legal entity name
  • business and personal details including addresses, contact numbers and emails
  • intended business activity and income description
  • Australian company number (ACN) or Australian registered body number (ARBN), if applicable
  • myGov account (recommended)

That’s likely all you need to know about how to get an ABN to conduct legal trade in Australia. If you require further information on how to get an ABN, or apply for one, please visit the Australian Business Register website.

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