An Australian Company Number (ACN) is a number issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). When you incorporate a company, you will receive an ACN to identify your company. Certain documents will require you to state your details such as your ACN and business name. You should be aware of which documents require this and what your obligations are. This article will outline some of the key documents on which you need to include your ACN and company name.

What Is an ACN?

If your entity name ends in Pty Ltd or Proprietary Limited, you have registered a company. In this case, you will have been issued an ACN. An ACN is different to an ABN (Australian Business Number) as an ABN can be issued to anyone carrying out business activities, such as a sole trader. An ACN is purely for companies.

Including your ACN and company name on certain documentation is important, as it allows other businesses and people to identify you. As many companies have similar names and subsidiaries, ACNs help to reduce fraud because they make it possible to clearly identify your company.

If you decide to change your company name, you can keep the same ACN.

Which Documents Must Display My ACN?

Generally, your company’s ACN should appear on all of your: 

  • ‘public documents’ (i.e. documents that are available for public use or reference); and
  • ‘eligible negotiable instruments’ (i.e. documents that promises a certain payment, such as a contract or order for service). 

Your company name and ACN should appear next to each other on the first page of the document. The ACN can be displayed in several ways, but it must be clearly written and displayed. You may write:

  • ‘Australian Company Number’;
  • ‘ACN’; or
  • ‘A.C.N.’.

For example, you could list Beds and Tables Pty Ltd ACN 123 456 789 at the top of the document. 

If your company has an ABN, you can use this number alongside your company’s name instead of the ACN on company documents and negotiable instruments if your ABN:

  • contains your ACN; and
  • is presented in the same way that you would present your ACN.

Using the above example, this would read as Beds and Tables Pty Ltd ABN 12 123 456 789.

Below are some examples of common documents that require your ACN and company name.

Any Documents That You Lodge With ASIC

This will include documents such as: 

  • share transfer forms;
  • company name change forms; and 
  • forms to change the director of a company.

Invoices and Statements of Accounts

When you issue invoices, your clients need to ensure that they pay the correct company. Including your ACN allows clients to identify you.

Handwritten Receipts

A handwritten receipt must contain your ACN so that the purchaser knows who they have purchased the product or service from.

Order Forms for Goods and Services

Similarly, if you are ordering goods or services for your business, the supplier should be able to identify who they are providing their goods or services to.

Business Letterheads and Other Official Documentation

Business letterheads are considered public documents and therefore must contain your ACN. Although there is no legal requirement to contain other information, many businesses will include details such as the business’ 

  • operating address;
  • contact email address; and 
  • phone number.

This allows their clients and service providers to contact them easily.

Official Company Notices

This includes tax returns and any disclosure notices that supplier companies issue about defective goods.

Cheques, Promissory Notes and Bills of Exchange 

Any company that enters into a transaction should be easily identifiable. 

Written Advertisements Which Provide an Offer 

As a general rule, an advertisement is not an official notice unless you must publish it according to:

For example, under Australian corporations, you must provide notice to your company’s shareholders of a proposed share-buy back.

Which Documents Do Not Require My ACN?

Not all documents will require your ACN. For example, your ACN does not have to be printed on:

  • machine, cash-register or software generated receipts;
  • advertisements that promote the company without making any specific offer;
  • credit cards or vouchers;
  • materials which are not documents (e.g. signs or television advertisements);
  • packaging and labelling; or
  • business cards or ‘with compliments’ slips.

Key Takeaways

Your ACN is an important identifier for your company. You must include your ACN or ABN wherever necessary so that other businesses and the public know who they are dealing with. You may also face harsh penalties if you do not display your company name and ACN where you should. As a general rule, you should include your company name and ACN on any public documents or negotiable instruments. If you need assistance with your corporate compliance, call LegalVision’s Business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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