Reading time: 5 minutes

An Australian Business Number (ABN) may be cancelled for a number of reasons. As a business owner, you may wish to run your business again after your ABN has been cancelled. In this situation, you will need to know if you can reactivate the cancelled ABN or if you will need to register for a new ABN. 

This article will explain:

  • what an ABN is; 
  • when you need to update your ABN;
  • why your ABN might be cancelled;
  • what happens when your ABN is cancelled; and
  • when you can reactivate a cancelled ABN.

What Is an ABN?

An ABN is a unique number provided by the Australian Business Register (ABR) used to identify businesses. The ABR maintains a comprehensive database of registered business information. Customers, other businesses and government bodies can use the database to identify you and your business. 

You can apply for an ABN online through theABR website. If you want to register for an ABN, you must be entitled to one. You will be entitled to an ABN if you: 

Independent contractors will need to have an ABN when dealing with other businesses. An ABN will not be issued to you if you are an employee of somebody else’s business. 

If you operate your business through a company, your Australian Company Number (ACN) will be different to your ABN. An ACN is a unique number the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) gives to companies.

An ABN is also different to a registered business name. Your business name (or ‘trading name’) is registered with ASIC and should be renewed every one or three years. You do not need to renew your ABN when you renew your business name. 

Updating Your ABN Details

Once you have an ABN, it is your responsibility to keep your ABN details up to date on the ABR. Therefore, you must update the ABR of any changes within 28 days. You will need to update any changes to your:

  • business owner details;
  • physical address; 
  • email address;
  • phone number; and 
  • GST registration status. 

You can update your ABN details through the ABR website or by contacting the ABR via email or mail. 

Why Might Your ABN Be Cancelled?

You may cancel your ABN if:

  • you have sold your business;
  • your business has closed down and stopped trading;
  • you are a foreign business and are no longer operating in Australia or making supply connections with Australia; or
  • your business structure is changing.

You will need to cancel your ABN within 28 days if you have stopped operating your business. You can cancel your ABN online through the ABR website. Before cancelling your ABN, you must ensure that you meet any lodgement, reporting and payment requirements with the ABR or other government agencies. 

The ABR may cancel your ABN if:

  • you operate your business through a company and ASIC advises the ABR that the company has been deregistered;
  • your latest income tax return advised that business has ceased;
  • you stop reporting business income or expenses; or
  • you lodge a final tax return. 

What Happens When Your ABN is Cancelled?

Once your ABN has been cancelled, you should use the ABN lookup tool on the ABR website to check if the status has changed from active to cancelled.

You will need to ensure that you have adhered to any outstanding obligations. Also, you will need to cancel any Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Pay as you Go Withholding (PAYG) registrations linked to the cancelled ABN, as these do not cancel automatically. You should also lodge any outstanding income tax reports or business activity statements. 

Can I Reactivate a Cancelled ABN?

You can reactivate your cancelled ABN so long as you are entitled to have one. As for a new application, you must show that you are carrying on a business in Australia or you have a foreign business conducting business in Australia. When reactivating a cancelled ABN, you must reapply for the ABN through the ABR. You can list your previous ABN during the application for a new ABN. 

Reactivating a cancelled ABN requires no fee. However, you may incur a fee if you need to re-register your business name. Sometimes the ATO will conduct a manual review when you reactivate a cancelled ABN. Generally, this manual review can determine your eligibility and entitlement for an ABN. 

You can reapply for the same ABN if your business structure remains the same. If your business structure has changed, you will need to apply for a new ABN. 

For example, if you were a sole trader when you registered for your first ABN but are now operating your business through a company, you will need to apply for a new ABN.

Key Takeaways

An ABN is a unique number which: 

  • identifies businesses in Australia; and 
  • helps other businesses ensure they are dealing with the correct entity. 

Selling your business or stopping trading in Australia will lead to your ABN being cancelled by you or the ABR. Reactivating a cancelled ABN is a process. If you wish to do so, you must meet the entitlement requirements and your business structure is the same as before. 

If you require assistance with registering or reactivating an ABN, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page. 

Webinars

Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Online
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

Jessica_Coventry
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