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Australian Business Numbers can be cancelled for a number of reasons. Business owners may decide to cease trading, the business may be sold, or it may have been restructured (for example, from sole trader to company). However, business owners often wish to re-enter trading and operating their business. If you are in this situation, you may be asking whether you need to reactive or reapply for a cancelled ABN.

If you plan to stop operating your business, you are required to cancel your ABN. As a business owner, you must also ensure that you complete your lodgment, reporting and payment obligations which includes activity statements and PAYG withholding reports. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) may also cancel your ABN if it suspects you are no longer carrying on a business.

Reapplying for an ABN

You are required to reapply for an ABN if your ABN has been cancelled, regardless of whether you or the Australian Business Register (ABR) cancelled it. The ABR is a comprehensive database of registered business information. The organisation is also responsible for cancelling and issuing ABNs. To confirm whether your ABN has been cancelled, check the ABN lookup tool on the ABR website.

To reapply for an ABN, you must go on the Australian Business Register website and apply for a new number. The application will also provide an opportunity to list any previous Australian Business Number you may have held. If your business structure has not changed and you are still eligible for an ABN, your previous Australian Business Number will be reactivated. However, if your business structure has changed, you will be issued a new ABN. Once you are issued with an ABN or your ABN is reactivated, the ABR’s ABN Lookup Tool will display your ABN as “Active”.

Note that reapplying for an ABN is different from renewing a business name. A business name is renewed in Australia every one or three years, by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. You do not need to renew your Australian Business Number when you renew your business name.

Updating an ABN

As a business owner, you are responsible to maintain your ABN details and ensure they are up to date. This includes business owner and associate details, addresses including postal and email, status of GST registration and contact information. The ABR requires you to update your details within 28 days of becoming aware of any changes to your business. To update your ABN details, you can either contact the ABR via email or mail, or complete the changes online using a AUSkey which will take effect immediately.

Cancelling an ABN

If you have sold your business or no longer intend to trade and wish to cancel your ABN, you must inform the Australian Business Register. To confirm that your ABN has been cancelled, you should check that the ABR displays the ABN as “Cancelled”.

Key Takeaways

If you are looking to reactivate a cancelled ABN, or require assistance with registering a new ABN or company, LegalVision can assist. Call us on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. Our business lawyers can also assist you with structuring your company with the right legal documents.


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