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Australian Business Number

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Title: Australian Business Number  
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Subject: Australian Christian Lobby, Luxury Car Tax, Taxation in Australia, Australian Registered Scheme Number, Tax file number
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Australian Business Number

The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Business Register (ABR) which is operated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The ABN is a component of the System introduced by John Howard's Liberal government on 1 July 2000.


  • Australian Business Register 1
  • Entitlement to an ABN 2
  • Applying for an ABN 3
  • Format of the ABN 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Australian Business Register

The Australian Business Register (ABR) is maintained by the Registrar of the ABR, who is also the Commissioner of Taxation.[1] The Registrar registers entities and, in doing so, issues them with an ABN.[2]

Entitlement to an ABN

The Registrar issues ABNs only to entities who are entitled to an ABN.[3] Entities do not have to be individuals (natural persons) or companies (legal persons). An entity can be:

  • an individual; or
  • a body corporate; or
  • a corporation sole; or
  • a body politic; or
  • a partnership; or
  • any other unincorporated association or body of persons; or
  • a trust; or
  • a superannuation fund.[4]

For an entity to be entitled to an ABN, it must be:

  • carrying on an enterprise in Australia;[5] or
  • carrying on an enterprise that makes supplies connected with Australia;[6] or
  • a company registered under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).[7]

Whether or not an entity is carrying on an enterprise is a question of fact and there are many circumstances where an entity will be carrying on an enterprise. Without being exhaustive, an entity will be carrying on an enterprise if:

  • it is in the form of a business; or
  • it leases property; or
  • it is a religious institution; or
  • it is a superannuation fund; or
  • it is an arm of the government; or
  • it is a charity.[8]

The Registrar of the ABR can refuse an entity's application to be registered.[9] Equally, the Registrar can cancel an entity's registration and thus their ABN.[10] Both of these decisions are reviewable taxation decisions.

Applying for an ABN

There are three ways to legally apply for an ABN:[11]

  • through the Australian Business Register portal
  • using the services of a Registered Tax Agent, or
  • a paper-based application via the ATO

Format of the ABN

The ABN is an eleven digit number where the first two digits are a checksum. Unlike with the tax file number (TFN), the ATO has publicised the formula for checking and creating valid ABN checksums. Also, the nature of the ABN algorithm means that any 9-digit number can be made into a valid ABN.

In the case of companies, the ATO determines the ABN by using the company's Australian Company Number (ACN) to which is prefixed the two-digit checksum.

See also


  1. ^ Section 28 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  2. ^ Section 11 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  3. ^ Section 8 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  4. ^ Subsection 184-1(1) of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).
  5. ^ Paragraph 8(1)(a) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  6. ^ Paragraph 8(1)(b) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  7. ^ Subsection 8(1) of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  8. ^ Section 9-20 of the A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Act 1999 (Cth).
  9. ^ Section 13 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  10. ^ Section 18 of the A New Tax System (Australian Business Number) Act 1999 (Cth).
  11. ^

External links

  • Australian Business Register
  • ABN Lookup
  • ABN Information
  • Format of the ABN
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