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07 July

Registering for an ABN

An Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique, 11 digit identifier for your business.

You need an ABN to be able to work as a business in Australia, including if you want to work as a sole trader.

You need to quote an ABN on your tax invoices or other documents relating to sales you make to other businesses and customers. If you don’t quote an ABN when you supply goods or services to another business, they may have to withhold tax from their payment to you at the rate of 47%.

You can easily apply for an ABN online through the Australian Business Register (ABR) at This process is free, but before you apply you’ll need to know which business structure you’re using. If you provide all the required information when you apply online and you are entitled, you’ll get your ABN immediately. In some situations, for instance if the ATO needs to verify information you have provided, the ABN may take up to 28 days to be issued. You can also apply for an ABN through your registered tax professional.

Once you have your ABN, it’s important to keep your details up-to-date and inform the ABR of any changes within 28 days. This will ensure that you meet your obligations as an ABN holder and that relevant government agencies can contact you.

Tax registrations

Once you’ve registered for your ABN, there are other registrations you’ll need to consider for your business.

  • Tax file number (TFN): All businesses need a TFN. If you’re a sole trader, you report your business income and expenses using your individual TFN on your individual tax return. If you have another structure (company, partnership or trust) it must get its own TFN, and all your business income and expenses are lodged on a separate tax return.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST): You must register for GST if
    • your business will have a GST turnover (gross income minus GST) of $75,000 or more
    • you provide taxi travel for passengers (including ride-sourcing) as part of your business, regardless of your GST turnover – this applies to both owner drivers and if you lease or rent a taxi
    • you want to claim fuel tax credits for your business.
  • Pay as you go (PAYG) withholding: If you will have employees, you need to register for PAYG withholding to withhold tax from payments you make to them.
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT): If you’re planning to provide fringe benefits to your employees, you may have to register for and pay FBT.

There are other registrations that you might need depending on your business activities, such as wine equalization tax and luxury car tax. You can also update your registrations if your business circumstances change.

Other languages 

Do you speak another language and still wish to access online information at your business obligations?

Here are some additional resources :

ATO Tax Talk

ATO tv for foreign languages

Glossary of common tax and superannuation terms

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