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What is an ABN in Australia and how to get it

Any business owner planning to register a company in Australia, or anyone who has received written requests from Australian authorities, much likely have wondered: "What is an ABN, and why is it important?" This article not only explains what ABN stands for and why it is essential, but also delves into who issues it, what is required to obtain one, and how to cancel the number if it is no longer needed.

What is an ABN in Australia and how to get it

Posted 3 November 2023

Summary

Australian Business Number

From 1 day to 3 weeks

Reduces tax rate

Until canceled

Australian Business Register (ABR)

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Diane, partner of GFLO Consultancy

Understanding ABN

ABN (Australian Business Number) is a unique eleven-digit identifier used by businesses registered in Australia for identification purposes with Australian government authorities and for interaction with the Australian Taxation Office. An ABN may be required for invoicing, obtaining tax benefits, registering a domain name, and more. Additionally, using this number, the public can locate a specific company in the ABN Register.

Basis for obtaining an ABN

  1. Engaging in activities within Australia (commercial activity is not mandatory; non-profit organizations engaged in charitable activities in Australia also qualify);
  2. Making supplies within Australia;
  3. Owning a company registered with the Australian Company Register.

Key features of an ABN

Introduced during a significant tax reform in the year 2000, the number, just as the TFN (Tax File Number) in Australia, serves to identify your business. In some cases, an ABN can also provide various tax benefits.

Documents required for obtaining an ABN

  1. Constitutional documents related to the Australian company;
  2. Certified scans of the passports of the company founders;
  3. Certified scans of identification cards of company founders (if the founder’s home country does not issue identification cards, a driver’s license is acceptable).

Procedure for obtaining an ABN

You can obtain an ABN independently through the official Australian government website. However, if you encounter any difficulties or have questions, you can seek assistance from our advisers.

ABN processing time

If all the required documents are available, an ABN is assigned online immediately after submitting your application. However, if additional information is needed, or if the Australian Taxation Office has questions, your application will be processed within 20 days.

Cancelling an ABN

The Australian government’s website outlines the conditions under which you have the right to cancel the Australian company’s business number:

  • If your company is closing in Australia;
  • If there is a change in the structure of your company in Australia;
  • If your company is no longer conducting activities in Australia.

An ABN must be cancelled if there is a change in the legal form of the organization in the following cases:

  • From sole proprietorship to any type of company;
  • From sole proprietorship to any type of partnership;
  • From partnership to any type of company.

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