ABN - What is it and Where Do I Find It?

23 April 2018
If you’re the owner or operator of an Australian small business, you’ll need an ABN and have it on hand for reference – here’s how to get it.

Your Australian Business Number is your one-stop identifier for your business, acting as an 11-digit identifier to a variety of government departments and agencies. It’s generally good practice to keep it on hand, but if you’ve misplaced it the good news is the Government offers a quick and easy ABN lookup service.

What is an ABN for?

Your Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique numbered code the government and tax office use to keep track of your business – it’s needed for things like GST and PAYG (pay as you go) tax withholding. Not having one can result in nasty tax implications for you and your business.

If you make a sale to another business and do not quote an ABN to them, they may be obliged to withhold 47% of their payment to you as tax as part of the PAYG system.

Who is entitled to an ABN?

An entity is entitled to an ABN if it is:

  • carrying on or starting an enterprise in Australia, or
  • carrying on or starting an enterprise that makes supplies connected with Australia or its indirect tax zone
  • a company registered under the Corporations Act 2001

An entity doesn’t just mean a company – it can take the form of an individual, a trust, a body corporate, and many more. An SMSF can also be eligible for an ABN.

I need an ABN – how do I get one?

You can apply for an ABN through the Australian Business Register (ABR), free of charge. If you provide all the necessary information and the ABR can verify your identity from the details you give them, you will be issued an ABN immediately.

The ABR warns if they cannot immediately verify your identity, your application may take up to 20 days to be approved.

An application for an ABN may also be denied, in which case you’ll receive a refusal number and a letter will be mailed to you within 14 days outlining why your application was refused, along with the options available to you.

How do I find my ABN?

Finding your ABN can be easy – just visit the ABR and use the ABN lookup tool. You can search by Australian Company Number (ACN), trading name or business name. Similarly, you can use an ABN to find a business’ ACN, trading name or business name.

Can I use the same ABN for more than one business?

The ABR notes that a single ABN can be used by any number of different businesses, as long as they’re all working under the same business structure. If you’re running more than one business and said businesses are operating under different business structures, each one will require a separate ABN.

If you’re running your own business it’s important you make sure to look after your own super fund – but looking after your super starts with finding the best fund for you.

If you’re comparing Superannuation funds, the comparison table below displays some of the products currently available on Canstar’s database for Australians aged 30-39 with a balance of up to $55,000, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s superannuation comparison selector to view a wider range of super funds.

Fee, performance and asset allocation information shown in the table above have been determined according to the investment profile in the Canstar Superannuation Star Ratings methodology that matches the age group you selected.

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