ABNs explained

An ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government and community. You can use an ABN to:

  • identify your business to others when ordering and invoicing
  • avoid pay as you go (PAYG) tax on payments you get
  • claim goods and services tax (GST) credits
  • claim energy grants credits
  • get an Australian domain name
Registering for an ABN through the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service is free.

Find out if you need an ABN

Not everyone needs an ABN. To get one you need to be running a business or other enterprise.

Visit the Australian Business Register (ABR) website to find out about your entitlement to an ABN.

If you apply for an ABN and you’re not entitled to one, your application may be refused. The reason for refusal will be explained to you by the Australian Taxation Office.

Before you register for an ABN, make sure you’ve got the required information.

Register for an ABN

You can apply for an ABN and other key business registrations through the Business Registration Service. Before you register, make sure you have:

  • identified your business structure
  • proof of identity
  • details of your business activities and associates ready
Register for an ABN

You'll find out online about your ABN as soon as you’ve completed your application – as long as you provide all the required information.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will review your application within 20 business days if:

  • your identity cannot be confirmed, or
  • more information is needed

The ATO may contact you for more information.

You can register a business name at the same time as your ABN application if you use the Business Registration Service. If you don’t, you’ll need to go back to the Business Registration Service to register your business name.

Make sure you understand the difference between your ABN and your registered business name. Find more information on our register your business name page.

You can apply for an ACN and ABN using the same form on the Business Registration Service.

You must ensure your ABN details are up to date. Make sure you update your details within 28 days of becoming aware of the changes.

Visit the Update your ABN details page on the ABR website for more information and to update your ABN information.

Note, if you change your business structure, you may have to register for a new ABN.

When you make changes to your business, you may also need to update your business name details with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

You can use the ABN Lookup website to look up information about a registered ABN. For example, to check:

  • that your ABN details are up to date
  • the details of a supplier.

ABN Lookup allows you to search publicly available information supplied by businesses when they register for an ABN.

Search ABN Lookup

You'll probably need to cancel your ABN if you're:

You'll need to cancel your ABN when changing from a:

Cancel your ABN on the ABR website.

You can contact the ABR if you need more information about:

  • how your application for an ABN is progressing
  • updating your ABN

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