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ABN Registration

If you are considering launching a business in Australia, securing an Australian Business Number (ABN) is a fundamental step.


An ABN is an 11-digit identifier that makes your business recognisable to the government and other parties. It simplifies various aspects of business operations, such as invoicing, tax filing, and interacting with government bodies and commercial entities.


Here's a detailed guide to understanding the importance of obtaining an ABN and the process involved.

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Why Should You Apply for an ABN?

Obtaining an ABN offers numerous advantages essential for smoothly conducting business in Australia:

Legal Requirement:

Operating a business in Australia necessitates having an ABN. Without one, you might face operational disruptions and penalties from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Claiming Goods and Services Tax (GST):

If your business expects a GST turnover of $75,000 or more, you must register for GST, for which an ABN is mandatory. This registration allows you to claim GST credits, a critical aspect of financial management for any business.

Avoiding Higher Tax Deductions:

Without an ABN, businesses paying you for goods or services are obliged to withhold tax at the highest marginal rate. This rate is significantly more than what is typically required for transactions involving an ABN.

Credibility and Professionalism:

An ABN enhances your business's credibility and professionalism, boosting confidence among potential clients and business partners.

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When Should You Apply for an ABN?

It’s best to secure your ABN before you start your business activities to ensure all processes are streamlined and compliant. Consider applying if you:


  • Are launching a new business

  • Intend to register for GST

  • Need to comply with the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) withholding system

  • Are involved in the construction industry or other sectors that mandate an ABN for regulatory or contractual reasons

Registering for an ABN: A Key Step for Any Business in Australia

Securing an ABN is more than just a legal formality; it enhances your business operations and aligns you with the necessary compliance frameworks, ensuring a smoother and more efficient business journey in Australia.

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ABN Registration FAQs

  • What is an ABN?

  • An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11-digit number that identifies your business to the government and community. It is different from your tax file number (TFN).

  • Why should I get an ABN?

  • Obtaining an ABN is essential when starting a business, as it is required for ordering, invoicing, and legally conducting transactions. If you do not include an ABN on invoices, your clients or customers are legally required to withhold tax from payments due to you at the highest marginal rate. An ABN is also necessary for registering an Australian domain name for your business.

  • When do I need an ABN?

  • You need an ABN when starting a business, as it must be included on invoices and legal documents to meet compliance standards.

  • Who is eligible to apply for an ABN?

  • Eligibility for an ABN is generally open to entities carrying out or starting an enterprise in Australia. This includes sole traders, companies, partnerships, non-profit organisations, trusts, and more. Entities must be carrying on an enterprise in Australia to qualify.

  • Do I need an ABN for a not-for-profit organisation?

  • Yes, not-for-profit organisations in Australia should apply for an ABN to facilitate their operations, especially if they wish to claim GST credits, provide tax-deductible receipts, and apply for grants or other benefits.

  • What are the consequences of not having an ABN?

  • Operating a business without an ABN can lead to adverse tax implications. Without an ABN, other businesses must withhold 47% (as of the current tax rate) from payments they make to you for tax purposes. Additionally, it may hinder your ability to buy services or supplies from other businesses.

  • How often do I need to update my ABN details?

  • You should update your ABN details whenever there are changes to your business, such as a new business address, change in ownership, or alteration in the nature of your business. Regular updates ensure compliance and accuracy in the business register.

  • Can a non-resident apply for an ABN?

  • Yes, non-residents can apply for an ABN if they are conducting business in Australia. They must demonstrate that they have started business activities in Australia and meet certain legal and tax obligations.

  • Is there a cost to apply for or maintain an ABN?

  • Applying for an ABN is free through the Australian Business Register. There are no costs associated with maintaining an ABN, but it is important to keep your registered details up to date.

  • Is getting an ABN the same as being registered for GST?

  • No, obtaining an ABN and registering for GST are distinct processes. All businesses need an ABN, but only those with a GST turnover of $75,000 or more are required to register for GST. For more information about GST registration, look at our GST Registration page.

  • Where do I find my ABN?

  • If you've misplaced your ABN, you can retrieve it by searching on the ABN Lookup website at If it is not listed there, contacting your accountant is recommended.

  • Is getting an ABN the same as being registered for GST?

  • No, obtaining an ABN and registering for GST are distinct processes. All businesses need an ABN, but only those with a GST turnover of $75,000 or more are required to register for GST. For more information about GST registration, look at our GST Registration page.

  • Can I apply for an ABN if I am a sole trader or freelancer?

  • Yes, sole traders and freelancers who are conducting business activities are eligible to apply for an ABN.

  • How long does it take to get an ABN after applying?

  • In most cases, ABNs are issued immediately upon completing the online application. However, if manual review is required, the process can take up to 28 days.

  • What is the difference between an ACN and an ABN?

  • An ACN (Australian Company Number) is a unique nine-digit number issued to every company registered in Australia by ASIC, primarily used for monitoring and identification within the corporate sector, whereas an ABN (Australian Business Number) is an 11-digit number that identifies businesses to the government and community for tax and other business purposes.

  • Can I cancel my ABN if I no longer operate my business?

  • Yes, you should cancel your ABN if you cease business operations or if your business no longer meets the requirements for holding an ABN to avoid unnecessary obligations or penalties. Additionally, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) may automatically cancel your ABN if there is no lodgement activity for an extended period.

  • Can I backdate an ABN application?

  • No, you cannot backdate an ABN application. The ABN is active from the date of issue by the Australian Business Register (ABR), and you must conduct business activities from this date or a future date specified in the application.

  • What happens if my business details change after obtaining my ABN?

  • You must update your business details on the Australian Business Register promptly if there are changes such as a new business structure, address, or contact information.

  • Who can help with my ABN application?

  • If you need assistance with your ABN application, you can seek help from a registered tax agent or accountant (HelloLedger is both). They can provide expert guidance and ensure that your application is completed accurately and complies with all relevant regulations. Additionally, business advisors and some online services also offer support for ABN registration.

  • Where do I apply for an ABN?

  • You can apply for an ABN online through the Australian Business Register website at, where you will need to fill out the necessary details about your business and your personal information.

Get in Touch

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Contact us at HelloLedger and let’s embark on the journey to financial clarity and success together.

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