Reading time: 4 minutes

In this article, we answer some frequently asked questions about ABNs and explain how to apply for one.

Do I Need an ABN?

You require an ABN if you are running a business or other enterprise in Australia.  You may also require a number of other registrations as a business. As most businesses derive income, it is typical to register for both an ABN and tax file number (TFN) at the same time. You also need to register an ABN before applying for goods and services tax (GST) or pay-as-you-go (PAYG).

Am I Eligible for an ABN?

Not everyone is entitled to an ABN. You must be carrying on a business or other enterprise to be eligible for an ABN. You also need to provide evidence that you have a business structure, and that you’re carrying on a business or other enterprise in Australia.

How Do I Apply for an ABN?

You can apply for an ABN for free, online through or The registration process will first ask you questions to determine whether you are eligible to apply for an ABN. Once you determine that you are eligible, you will need to make some declarations, and provide identifying information. You will need to provide:

  • the applicant’s and the business’ details (note that it is important to consider what entity will be applying for the ABN, and to complete the application under the correct entity’s name); and
  • proof of identity information.

If your application is successful, you will receive your ABN immediately, and your details will be added to the Australian Business Register. You will then receive a confirmation within 14 days.

If your application is unsuccessful, you’ll receive a refusal number and a letter within 14 days setting out the reasons for the refusal and your options. If you receive a reference number, it may mean that there were issues with verifying your identity or you may need to provide more information. Your application and details will be reviewed, and you may be contacted to provide further information. The review typically occurs within 20 business days.

I’m a Foreign Business, How Do I Apply for an ABN?

If you are not an Australian resident, you may still be eligible to apply for an ABN. To be eligible as a non-resident, you must either be:

  1. carrying on an enterprise in Australia; or
  2. making sales in connection with Australia.

As a foreign business, you will need to provide either your Australian TFN or proof of your identity and a statement of your business activities in Australia.

Do I Need to Apply for a New ABN if I Was a Sole Trader and Am Now a Company?

A company will need to apply for a separate ABN. If you were previously operating as a sole trader and now operate as a company, you should cancel your old ABN. You cannot transfer your sole trader ABN to your company.  For a company to successfully apply for an ABN, the company’s directors will need to supply their personal information.

Key Takeaways

If you are running a business or other enterprise in Australia, you may need to apply for an ABN. You can apply for an ABN online through the Australian Business Register website. It is essential to ensure that the entity doing business, is the same entity that is in the application. If your business is no longer operating in Australia or has closed down, you should cancel your ABN. If you have any questions about ABNs or applying for one, get in touch with one of LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards