Your ABN questions answered

Joseph posted 3 months ago
What is an ABN?
An ABN or Australian Business Number is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business or organisation to the government and community.

Many government agencies rely on ABN information to target and provide important community services.

You do not need an ABN unless you are carrying on an enterprise.

What is the ABN used for?
The ABN is used for the following things:
  • To confirm your business identity with others when ordering and invoicing
  • To avoid Pay as You Go (PAYG) tax on payments you receive.
  • Claim Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits.
  • Claim energy grants credits.
  • Obtain an Australian domain name.
Why do I need an ABN?
You need an ABN to uniquely identify your enterprise to the government and community. You obtain an ABN when carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia.
It is most commonly used for business but can also be used for acting as the trustee of a super fund, operating a charity or renting or leasing property.

Can I start a business without an ABN?
You can start a business without an ABN. There are some implications that may occur if you do this though.
It is compulsory to register an ABN if you are earning over $75,000/financial year as you will need to register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). You can't register for GST unless you have an ABN.
Speak to your accountant (or find an accountant) for advice on this matter.

How do I apply for an ABN?
You can register for an ABN at the Australian Business Register (ABR) website.

You'll receive an online notification of your ABN immediately after completing your application. When your application is processed successfully after review, a letter confirming your ABN with your ABN details will be sent to you within 14 days.

What do I need to have available when setting up my ABN?
You need a lot of information when setting up your business.
The information includes:
  • Your tax file number (TFN) and any other tax file numbers of any associates involved in the business.
  • Tax agent registration number
  • Previously held ABN's
  • Date your ABN is required.
  • Entity's legal name
  • Authorised contacts
  • Business activity or main source of income.
  • Business locations for all the premises you will be operating in.
I have changed my business details. What do I do?
You need to tell the ABR within 28 days if your business operation ceases or if your details change. Your ABN may be cancelled if information shows you are no longer carrying on a business. 

My business has ceased operating. What do I do?
See above question. You need to tell the ABR within 28 days.

Where do I go to find my ABN?
You can do an ABN lookup on the Australian Business Register website to find your ABN or or someone elses too.

I have two businesses, do I need two ABN's?
No, you do not need multiple ABN's. You can operate multiple businesses under the one ABN. You simply need to register multiple business names and associate them under the one ABN.

Depending on your circumstances, it may make more sense to separate them. If in doubt seek professional advice.

Do I need a separate ABN if I want a second website?
No, you can operate and setup as many websites as you like under the one ABN. The same goes for owning and registering a domain name. You can own any number of domain names under the one ABN.

How do i contact the Australian Business Register about my ABN application?
You can contact the ABR to find out how your application for an ABN is progressing, to update your ABN or to cancel your registration.

I want to register a company. Do I apply for an Australian Company Number (ACN) or an ABN first?
You can register for both at the same time on the business registration service website.

Do you have any other ABN related questions? Let us know and we will update this FAQ with the right answer. 
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