• ABN entitlement

    When applying for an Australian business number (ABN) 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.

    Attention

    Apprentices, trade assistants, labourers and other types of employees are not entitled to an ABN. Find out how the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) distinguishes between an employee and a contractorExternal Link for tax purposes.

    End of attention

    You must be able to demonstrate that your business structure is in place.

    You must:

    • be carrying on an enterprise in Australia or
    • in the course of carrying on an enterprise make supplies connected with Australia or
    • have undertaken sufficient activities to commence an enterprise.

    Possible business structures:

    Find out more

    Read more about choosing your business structureExternal Link on the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) website.

    End of find out more

    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.

    Find out more

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

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    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.
    Attention

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

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

    Find out more

    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 Australia you may be entitled to an ABN.

    End of find out more
    Further information

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

    End of further information

    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
    • Individual Sole trader

      Individuals must be carrying on an enterprise in Australia to be entitled to an ABN.

    • Partnership

      A partnership must be carrying on an enterprise in Australia to be entitled to an ABN.

    • Company

      A company must be carrying on an enterprise in Australia to be entitled to an ABN.

    • Trust

      A trust must be carrying on an enterprise in Australia and have three essential elements to be entitled to an ABN.

    • Superannuation entities

      A superannuation entity must be set up properly with the relevant authority to be entitled to an ABN.

    • Deceased estate

      One of the things a deceased estate must be doing in order to be entitled to an ABN, is carrying on an enterprise of the deceased in order to finalise the affairs of the estate.

  • Last modified: 08 Jan 2015QC 332