ABN basics FAQsVersion: 9.5

What is an ABN?

The Australian Business Number (ABN) External site enables businesses in Australia to deal with a range of government departments and agencies using a single identification number. The ABN is a public number which does not replace your tax file number.

ABN registration details become part of the Australian Business Register (ABR) External site which the ATO maintains on behalf of the Commonwealth. You can access the publicly available information contained in the ABR through the ABN Lookup website.

How do I apply for an ABN?

The Australian Business Register (ABR) External site is responsible for the ABN application process. For more information please see applying for an ABN External site on the ABR website.

As ABN Lookup does not have access to the ABN registration details please contact the ABR External site if you require assistance with your application or have any queries about its progress.

How much does it cost to get an ABN?

The Australian Business Register (ABR) External site does not impose a fee for applying for an ABN online or by paper application. If you consult a tax agent to complete an application for you they may charge a fee for their services. Otherwise, there is no cost.

How long does it take to get an ABN?

Provided you supply all the information required, you will usually receive online notification of your ABN immediately upon completion of the ABN application.

If you omit information or it cannot be verified an ABN will not be allocated immediately. Under these circumstances your application will be processed manually and can take up to 28 days. To check the progress of your application please contact the ABR External site.

What is the status of my ABN application?

The Australian Business Register (ABR) maintains the information available through ABN Lookup and is responsible for all aspects of the ABN registration. As ABN Lookup does not have access to registration details please contact the ABR External site for all enquiries regarding the progress of your application.

Only when an ABN has been issued by the ABR will the public details about the ABN be available on ABN Lookup.

Can I use the same ABN for more than one business?

You can conduct any number of businesses/activities under the same ABN provided they all operate under the same business structure. If your second or subsequent business operates under a different structure, you need to apply for separate ABNs for each new business structure.

What is the format of the ABN?

The Australian Business Number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit identifier issued to all entities registered in the Australian Business Register (ABR).

The 11 digit ABN is structured as a 9 digit identifier with two leading check digits. See format of the ABN for more information.

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