Get an ABN when you’re starting a business. Why is it necessary and what is it used for? Monzi’s here to explain it all for you. With our quick and easy guide to getting an Australian Business Number, you could be on the path to starting your new venture before you know it. Let’s go.
Please note, certain ideas and products presented in this article may not be offered by Monzi nor the lenders we work with. This article presents only general information. Consider seeking professional financial, taxation, legal or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented on this website relate to your unique circumstances.
Get an ABN: what is it?
An ABN or Australian Business Number is a unique, 11-digit code issued to businesses by the ATO. In short, it allows for identification of your business by the government, other companies you are dealing with and the community.
ABNs play a key role in commercial transactions and help ensure that similar business names are not confused. By looking up a company’s ABN, you can be sure you’re dealing with the right entity. Moreover, an ABN will also be necessary for taxation reasons when dealing with the ATO.
Confident that you know what an ABN is? Perfect! Now, we can dig deeper. Read on for Monzi’s comprehensive guide explaining how you can get an ABN today. We’ll even explore how you can start a business too. Let’s go.
Why do I need an ABN?
While it may not be compulsory, if you’re a business owner, then it’s usually a good idea to have an ABN. Not only will it make your life easier, but it may also allow you to access a range of benefits.
Firstly, as with a tax file number (TFN), if you do not have an ABN, then whoever you are working for (e.g. as a contractor) may withhold the maximum rate of tax from your pay. In addition to this, by having an ABN, you may be able to claim back Goods and Services Tax credits and offer fringe benefits to your employees. Next, having an ABN allows for differentiation between companies with similar names.
Finally, ABNs allow the Australian Taxation Office to track all business within Australia for taxation purposes. As a result, having your unique and identifiable ABN may reduce your hassle when tax time comes.
How do I get an ABN?
To get an ABN, you’ll need to apply. With this, you can either do it yourself or access the services of a qualified tax professional. If you opt to do it yourself, then visit the ATO website and follow the prompts to submit your application.
However, before doing so, ensure that you have access to and can provide the following information:
- Your TFN and the TFNs of any associates and partners.
- Business name
- Authorised contacts
- Business contact information (e.g. email, address, etc.)
- Statement of activity (e.g. what are your main income sources?)
Depending on the information that you provide, you may receive an outcome within a short time. However, if you fail to provide any necessary details, then delays may occur.
Who needs an ABN?
An ABN is a requirement for businesses with a GST turnover that exceeds $75,000. Beyond that, while they may not always be compulsory, an ABN will typically be necessary for most organisations and businesses. Not only will it be used for tax purposes, but it may also allow for easy identification and may help to make things run more smoothly.
However, keep in mind that not everyone will be entitled to an ABN. As a guide, those who are entitled may include:
- Sole traders
- Super funds
Given this, if you are starting a business, do your research to determine how you can apply for an ABN and if it’s necessary for you. As with a tax file number, it will usually make things easier for you and as a result, you shouldn’t hesitate to apply.
How much does it cost to get an ABN?
You can apply for an ABN for free. Just like with a tax file number it won’t cost you a cent. As a result, you have nothing to lose.
That said, preparing your application will take a little bit of time. With this, you must compile all the necessary information and documents that the ATO requires. However, the fact that you can apply online does make things a little easier. In any case, no matter when you apply or how you apply, if you do it yourself, then it won’t cost you a cent. As a result, it’s one less expense you have to worry about when you start your business.
How long does it take to get an ABN in Australia?
In short, processing times do vary.
If you can be verified easily (e.g. via your TFN), then it’s possible that you can receive your ABN before you know it. In other words, it may take just a few minutes or hours. That’s one of the benefits of applying online.
However, if you do not provide all the necessary details or your application must be reviewed manually, then processing times may be lengthy. As a guide, in these situations, the ATO will aim to provide you with an outcome within 28 days. Typically, you will be notified when your application has been reviewed.
If you are unsure about whether or not your application has been processed, visit the ABN Lookup and search for your business. If successful, your business and your ABN should appear.
Can I get an ABN and register my business name at the same time?
Firstly, your business name is the name under which your organisation conducts business. For instance, famous ones include McDonald’s or Nike.
When you apply for your ABN, you may be able to register your business name at the same time. To do this, you will need to go through the Australian Government’s Business Registration Service portal.
If you are unable to do this, then that’s OK. However, to register the name of your business, you will need to have an ABN. If you do, then you can head to the ASIC website and access ASIC Connect. From there, you may be able to register your business name directly.
It goes without saying, but think long and hard about your business name. After all, it’s what your customers and clients will have to remember.
What happens if my business details change?
If your business details change, then you must inform the ATO within 28 days of these changes occurring. It’s your responsibility as a business owner. In other words, it won’t be done for you. Moreover, it’s important to ensure that your records are correct. That way, you can access government programs and be certain that the right people in your organisation will be contacted if required.
Luckily, updating your details isn’t too stressful. In short, you can potentially do this via the online MyGov portal. However, if that’s not possible for you, then you can ask your tax professional or contact the ATO. They should be able to guide you through the process.
Finally, if you are looking to update your details, ensure that you know what can and can’t be updated. For instance, you cannot update business names through the ATO. Instead, this may need to go through the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Can I cancel my ABN?
If you sell your business, close down or no longer operate in Australia, then you must cancel your ABN. However, before doing so, ensure that you have met any tax or payment obligations. Ultimately, your ABN should only be active while your business is. So, if you’re no longer operating, then contact the ATO to cancel it.
Realistically, cancelling your number shouldn’t be too hard. You may be able to do this online via MyGov. Alternatively, you could contact the ATO directly. Finally, if all else fails, then you can lodge a cancellation form via mail.
How do I get an ABN in QLD?
The great thing about getting an ABN is that the process won’t vary by state. In other words, if you want to get an ABN in Victoria, then you will follow the exact same steps as a business owner looking to get an ABN in NSW or Queensland. After all, ABNs are handled by the ATO who is in charge of taxation matters Australia-wide.
Realistically, this makes things easier for you. If you’re looking to open your first restaurant or want to start an electrical business, the steps will always be the same. Just follow the outline we provided earlier. With this, ensure that you can provide all the necessary documents and details that the ATO needs to assess your application. If it all goes to plan, your new business could be up and running before you know it.
Can I get an ABN for free?
As we’ve already mentioned, it won’t cost you anything to get an ABN. However, this is assuming that you apply yourself. If you apply through a tax agent or other business advisor, then they may charge you a fee.
In any case, this will be the same for your tax file number. Applying won’t cost you a cent. If you are starting a business, then it’s important to note that you will need an ABN and TFN. While you may already have a personal TFN, this won’t be appropriate unless you are a sole trader. TFN’s are a requirement for all taxpayer entities. As a result, you will need both a personal and business TFN.
Finally, if you have lost your TFN and don’t know how to locate it, then check out Monzi’s guide to finding your tax file number today.
Can I get an ABN if I’m not a resident?
If you are based outside of Australia, you may still need an ABN. In short, according to the ATO, you can potentially apply for an ABN if:
- You are carrying on or establishing a business in Australia.
- Making supplies connected with Australia’s indirect tax zone.
To apply, you can follow similar methods to those already outlined. With this, to apply online you may need to provide your tax file number. If you cannot do this, then your other option may be to provide documents proving your identity as well as a statement of what your business will be doing in Australia.
Beyond this, keep in mind that rules and regulations surrounding organisations based outside of Australia may vary, particularly in relation to tax. As a result, it may be best to approach a qualified advisor for more information.
How do I check if my ABN is still active?
One handy tool that you should be aware of is the ABN lookup. In short, it’s a free and public database that allows you to search the Australian Business Register. With this, you can access publicly available information such as your business’ ABN, ACN and the main business location.
If your ABN is not active, then your business may not appear in the ABN lookup. On the other hand, if your ABN has been cancelled, then this may be listed.
Finally, keep in mind that the ABN lookup doesn’t just have to be used for your business. If you are dealing with an organisation either as a client or customer and you want to confirm their legitimacy, then check the Lookup to ensure that they have a current ABN.
Do I need an ABN for contract work?
Yes, you do.
If you are a contractor, then you may be a sole trader or business owner. With this, you must have an ABN if you want to work. If you do not have an ABN, then the entity that you are contracted to may be able to withhold tax from you at the maximum rate. As a result, it’s usually best to apply for an ABN before beginning your work as a contractor.
What about as a sole trader?
If you are a sole trader, then you are entitled to an ABN. Usually, a sole trader will be defined as a person who is the only owner of the business and is held responsible for all aspects of the company. As a guide, this may include any debts. As a sole trader, you can take on other employees. However, you are unable to employ yourself.
You may not be entitled to an ABN if you carry out roles and activities as an employee. Instead, you are only entitled to an ABN if you are a sole trader.
Can my ABN expire?
Your ABN won’t expire. As a result, if your business stays operational and continues to generate a profit, then you shouldn’t have to worry about renewing your ABN. It will simply remain active.
That said, your ABN may be cancelled by the ATO. Reasons for this may include:
- Your company has been deregistered, as advised by ASIC.
- Your business has ceased, according to your latest tax return.
- There is no indication that your business is operational.
- You do not report your business expenses and income.
If your ABN is cancelled, then you may be able to re-apply for the same ABN, assuming your business retains an identical structure. However, if anything changes, then you may need to apply for a new ABN. If you are unsure, don’t hesitate to contact the ATO. They may be able to help you resolve your issue.
Why was my ABN application refused?
While anyone can apply for an ABN, it’s important to note that it doesn’t mean you will be approved. Instead, the ATO will do their due diligence to determine if you are entitled to an ABN. As a guide, you must demonstrate that you are in business and operational for your application to be successful.
Given that each case is different, Monzi cannot say why your ABN application was refused. Generally, if your application is unsuccessful, then the ATO will provide you with a letter stating as much. Moreover, this letter will also include the reason why you were unsuccessful. In some cases, it may be as simple as you failing to provide some necessary details.
Finally, you will have options and a right to review. With this, consider why your application was unsuccessful, and, where possible, take steps to rectify the issue.
What’s the difference between an ACN and ABN?
As a business owner, you must understand the distinction between an ABN and an ACN. In some cases, you may only need an ABN. In others, you may need both. So, allow us to explain the difference.
Firstly, as we’ve covered, ABNs are unique, identifying codes issued to all businesses by the ATO. In short, given that business names may be similar, confirming an organisation’s ABN can help you make sure that you’re dealing with the correct entity. Moreover, ABNs will be relevant for tax purposes and commercial transactions too.
On the other hand, an Australian Company Number (ACN) is issued by ASIC. Just like with an ABN, an ACN is a unique string of digits that is used to identify your company. However, ASIC may also use it to monitor your company.
In any case, it’s important to note that an ACN is only issued to companies. With this, not all businesses are companies (e.g. sole traders). Instead, a company refers to a business where the structure is legally separate from ownership. In other words, the owner is not personally liable for the company’s debts. As a result, you must understand the difference to determine whether or not you need both an ACN and ABN or just an ABN.
How do I start a business?
Starting a business is no small thing. Instead, it’s a significant commitment that you must be willing to put the time and effort into. After all, if it’s your business, then the success or failure of it, ultimately, falls to you. As a result, owning a business often involves a ton of hard work and plenty of long hours.
In any case, if you’re looking to start a business, some of the key steps to follow include:
- Confirm your financial situation (e.g. do you have the necessary capital?)
- Determine what your business is and how it will operate.
- Make a plan and identify what will make your business stand out from the crowd.
- Sort out the paperwork (e.g. apply for an ABN and ACN and ensure that you understand the various tax laws).
- Get the right people to help you (e.g. employees and advisors).
- Consider how you are going to market and promote your business.
- Set up your operations.
Note that there may be other steps involved. This is simply a rough outline of how you can get started with your new venture. For more information, visit the business.gov.au guide to starting a business today.
What do I need to start a business: the checklist
Opening a cafe or starting a tutoring business isn’t as easy as it may seem. While the rewards may be worth it in the end, before you try and start a business, ensure you check the following boxes to confirm that you have everything you need to give yourself a chance to be successful:
- A business plan (e.g. structure and vision)
- Capital and equipment
- A product or service that you can sell
- Advisors or mentors
- Social media or other ways to promote your business
- ABNs, TFNs, ACNs and any other necessary government documents
Again, though, keep in mind that all businesses are different. As a result, requirements and necessities may vary too. In most cases, it may be wise to approach a business advisor if you have no experience in opening a business. However, ultimately, it’s your decision and you’re free to go about it in whatever way you choose.
Can Monzi help me get an ABN?
Monzi cannot help you get an ABN. That’s because we are not business advisors. Instead, we’ve simply intended to provide you with a guide to applying for an ABN and how you may take steps to start your own business. After all, it can seem daunting, so it’s always helpful to find a quick and easy breakdown covering the information you need.
In any case, Monzi can offer something else. In short, we’re a leading Australian lender-finder. With this, if your budget is stretched thin and you don’t know how to cover that emergency expense, then we could be there to help.
Apply for easy cash loans from $300 to $10,000 now. From there, we’ll act as a bridge and will do our best to connect you with an available lender. If everything goes to plan, we’ll match you with a credit provider and they will conduct an assessment to determine if you should be offered a loan. If approved, you could have your cash before you know it.
Finally, Monzi knows a few lenders who may offer bad credit loans or loans to borrowers on Centrelink. As a result, we can potentially help Aussies from a range of different backgrounds. Get started today.
Does Monzi offer business loans?
Unfortunately, Monzi cannot help you access small business loans. That’s because, as we’ve mentioned, we work with lenders who offer personal loans. In other words, you may use these loans to cover personal expenses (e.g. paying an emergency bill). On the other hand, business loans are used for business-related costs and expenses.
Don’t be dismayed, though. There are plenty of lenders out there who can help you access the finance your business needs. As a guide, common expenses and purchases that business loans may cover include:
- New supplies and inventory
- Upgraded or replacement equipment
- Advertising and marketing costs
- Building or land loans
- Business credit cards
Can I use a personal loan for my business?
No, you cannot.
If you need a loan for your business, then apply for an Australian business loan. On the other hand, if you need a loan to cover personal costs and expenses, then apply for a personal loan online with Monzi.
Through our network of lenders, you can potentially access cash amounts from $300 to $10,000. Best of all, as we’re 100% online, you can apply at whatever time suits you. While applications received outside of business hours may experience delays, we’ll always do our best to match you with a lender quick-smart.
Apply for fast cash loans today!
Do I need to provide an ABN or TFN when I apply?
No, if you apply for a personal loan, then you won’t need to provide your ABN or TFN.
Firstly, while your TFN won’t be required, lenders will need a few key details. This may include identification details (e.g. name, date of birth), online banking information, an estimate of your current expenses as well as how much you would like to borrow and why you are applying (e.g. emergency car repairs).
In addition to this, keep in mind that your ABN won’t be relevant, given that Monzi cannot match you with lenders offering business loans. As a result, if you’re looking to access finance to cover some business-related expenses, then you may need to approach a lender directly. They may be able to offer a range of specialised products that may suit your business (e.g. a line of credit).
Can I ask Monzi a question?
You bet you can!
At Monzi, we’re a helpful bunch. As a result, we’re always happy to hear from you. So, if you’ve got any questions about Monzi or our lender-finder service and how you may access quick cash loans, then get in touch.
Send through your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org today and we’ll endeavour to provide you with a response ASAP. Just keep in mind that we only monitor this account during business hours. In any case, make sure you check out our FAQs page too. You may find that we’ve already answered your question!
Finally, keep in mind that Monzi cannot provide any business advice. As a result, if you want to learn more about ABNs or the requirements to start a business, then you may need to contact the ATO or visit the handy business.gov.au website.
Get an ABN today: wrapping up
At Monzi, we can’t help you get an ABN. Instead, we’ve outlined how you can do it yourself. If you’re starting on a new business venture, make sure that you tick all the necessary boxes to ensure that things go swimmingly. While starting your own business is a risk and a significant commitment, it can be extremely rewarding.
Not looking to start a business but need instant cash now? Apply with Monzi’s lender-finder service today. You could access cash loans today from $300 to $10,000 through our extensive network of lenders. Apply now and we could match you with an Aussie credit provider in just 60 minutes. Let’s go.