A Comprehensive Guide to Registering an Australian Business Number (ABN)


Are you planning to start a business in Australia? One of the first steps you need to take is registering for an Australian Business Number (ABN). An ABN is a unique 11-digit identifier that allows you to conduct business legally in Australia. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of registering an ABN, its benefits, eligibility criteria, and important considerations to keep in mind.

Section 1: What is an ABN?

Before we dive into the registration process, let's understand what an ABN is. An ABN is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to businesses and organizations operating in Australia. It serves as a universal identification number for businesses, enabling them to interact with government agencies, suppliers, and customers.

Section 2: Benefits of having an ABN

Having an ABN offers several benefits for your business:

2.1 Taxation and GST

With an ABN, you can register for Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed in Australia. By registering for GST, you can claim input tax credits for the GST included in your business purchases.

2.2 Credibility and Professionalism

Having an ABN adds credibility and professionalism to your business. Customers and clients often prefer to deal with businesses that have a registered ABN, as it signifies that the business is legitimate and compliant with Australian regulations.

2.3 Access to Government Contracts

Many government contracts require businesses to have a valid ABN. By registering for an ABN, you can unlock opportunities to bid for government contracts and expand your business prospects.

2.4 Claiming Business Expenses

An ABN allows you to claim business expenses and deductions related to your business activities. This can help reduce your taxable income and potentially save you money.

2.5 Simplified Business Transactions

With an ABN, you can easily identify your business when dealing with other businesses, suppliers, or customers. It simplifies transactions and streamlines administrative processes.

Section 3: Eligibility Criteria for ABN Registration

To be eligible for an ABN, you must meet the following criteria:

3.1 Operating a Business

You must be operating a genuine business or intending to start one. A business is defined as any activity conducted with the intention of making a profit.

3.2 Australian Business Structure

You must have an appropriate business structure in Australia. This can include sole traders, partnerships, companies, or trusts.

3.3 Tax Obligations

You must have met all your tax obligations, including lodging any outstanding tax returns and paying any outstanding debts.

3.4 Identity Verification

You must provide accurate identification details and satisfy the identity verification requirements as set by the ATO.

Section 4: Step-by-Step Guide to Registering an ABN

4.1 Gather Required Information

Before starting the registration process, gather the following information:

4.2 Determine the Appropriate Business Structure

Choose the appropriate business structure based on your needs and preferences. The most common structures include sole trader, partnership, company, and trust.

4.3 Online Registration

The easiest and quickest way to register for an ABN is through the online registration portal provided by the ATO. Visit their website (www.abr.gov.au) and follow the step-by-step instructions to complete the registration form.

4.4 Provide Business Activity Details

In the registration form, you will be required to provide detailed information about your business activities. This includes the nature of your business, products or services offered, and the industry in which you operate.

4.5 Provide Personal Information

Fill in your personal details accurately, including your full name, date of birth, residential address, and contact information.

4.6 Provide Business Address Details

Enter the address where your business is located or where your records are kept. This can be a physical address or a registered office address.

4.7 Provide Contact Details

Include your phone number and email address so that the ATO can contact you regarding your ABN registration if needed.

4.8 Estimated Annual Turnover

Provide an estimate of your expected annual turnover. This helps the ATO determine whether you are eligible for certain tax obligations such as GST registration.

4.9 Submit the Application

Review all the information provided and submit your application. You will receive a reference number once your application has been successfully lodged.

4.10 Await Confirmation

The ATO will review your application and may contact you if additional information is required. Once approved, you will receive your ABN via email or post within a few days.

Section 5: Important Considerations

5.1 GST Registration

After obtaining an ABN, you may need to register for GST if your annual turnover exceeds $75,000 (or $150,000 for non-profit organizations). GST registration requires additional reporting obligations and may affect how you price your goods or services.

5.2 Ongoing Obligations

Once registered for an ABN, it is important to comply with ongoing obligations such as updating your business details with the ATO, lodging activity statements, and fulfilling tax obligations.

5.3 ABN Renewal

ABNs are not issued with an expiry date but may be canceled if they are inactive for a certain period of time. To ensure continuity in your business operations, regularly review and update your ABN details as necessary.

5.4 Seek Professional Advice

If you have any doubts or concerns during the registration process or about managing your ABN afterward, it is advisable to seek guidance from a qualified accountant or business advisor who can provide tailored advice based on your specific circumstances.


Registering an ABN is a crucial step for any business operating in Australia. It not only provides numerous benefits but also ensures compliance with taxation and regulatory requirements. By following this comprehensive guide and meeting the eligibility criteria, you can successfully register for an ABN and set yourself up for success in the Australian business landscape. Remember to stay updated on any changes or obligations related to your ABN to ensure smooth operations in the long run.