• ABN entitlement

    When lodging a free ABN application online you will be asked to provide details about your situation, activities, business structure (entity type) and identity. Your answers will help determine if you are entitled to an ABN.

    Although everybody can apply, only those who are entitled will get an ABN. If you are not entitled but still apply, your ABN application will be refused.

    To be entitled to an ABN you must:

    • be able to demonstrate that your business structure is in place.
    • be carrying on an enterprise in Australia or
    • in the course of carrying on an enterprise make supplies connected with the indirect tax zone or
    • have undertaken sufficient activities to commence an enterprise or
    • be a Corporations Act company.

    Apprentices, trade assistants, labourers and other types of employees are not entitled to an ABN.

    Businesses are responsible for determining whether a worker is an employee or contractorExternal Link. To find out use the employee/contractor decision toolExternal Link.

    Read more about choosing your business structureExternal Link on the ATO website.

    Possible business structures:

    Watch this video to find out more about ABN entitlement.


    What carrying on an enterprise means

    An enterprise includes activities done in the form of a business. While there is no single test to determine if you are carrying on an enterprise, the following indicators may help you understand if your activities are done in the form of a business:

    • is a significant commercial activity
    • there is an intention to make a profit from the activity
    • the activity isn’t a hobby
    • repetition of the activity
    • commercial sales of products
    • a business plan exists
    • the activities are organised and carried on in a businesslike manner and records are kept
    • the activities are of a reasonable size and scale
    • the entity has relevant knowledge or skill.

    Read more about determining whether you are operating a businessExternal Link on the ATO website.

    Commencement activities

    Commencement activities could include:

    • consulting with financial or business advisors
    • completing a business plan and/or financial projections
    • applying for finance
    • conducting feasibility studies
    • leasing or purchasing premises or equipment for the business
    • obtaining licences to operate
    • advertising your business.

    If you get an ABN you must continue to meet the entitlement requirements. If your business situation changes you may no longer be entitled.

    Read the ATO’s Miscellaneous Taxation Ruling MT 2006/1External Link for specific information for your business structure and examples of entitlement.

    If your business or organisation is located outside of Australia but is carrying on an enterprise in Australia or in the course of carrying on an enterprise makes supplies connected with the indirect tax zone you may be entitled to an ABN.

    If you think your business or organisation is entitled to an ABN find out how to apply for an ABN.

    Complete the questionnaire to see if you are entitled to an ABN:

    • The entitlement questionnaire can be accessed many times to determine ABN entitlement prior to commencing an ABN application.
    • If you apply for an ABN after completing the questionnaire the answers will transfer to the application so that you do not have to answer the questions again.

    Check ABN Entitlement

    Defining the term 'Indirect tax zone'

    ‘Indirect tax zone’ means Australia but does not include the external territories and certain offshore areas. The goods and services tax (GST), the wine equalisation tax (WET) and the luxury car tax (LCT) operate in the indirect tax zone. The GST, WET and LCT do not operate in Australian external territories and in certain offshore areas.

    Further information about this term can be found in GSTR 2000/31 Goods and services tax: supplies connected with Australia and GSTR 2006/9 Goods and services tax: supplies.

    • Last modified: 01 Feb 2017QC 332