• Australian Business Register

    Access this factsheet in a pdf format (PDF, 202KB).

    When businesses and other organisations, including government bodies and non-profit organisations, register for an Australian business number (ABN), their identity information is stored in the Australian Business Register (ABR).

    Your agency can use the data for a range of purposes including:

    • service delivery – promoting new government services or grants, informing legislative changes, licensing of business activities and identifying and supporting new businesses
    • procurement – validating supplier’s ABNs, identifying local suppliers and trades people for council initiatives and conflicts of interest checks
    • planning and economic development – identifying changes in business growth and establishing future strategic plans to meet the needs of community growth and change
    • compliance – validation of business details, risk profiling, work planning and site visits
    • disaster management – identifying businesses, in a disaster area, that have been affected and those that can provide support.

    Benefits to your agency

    • More effective use of resources
    • Better understanding of your client base
    • Greater confidence in the information you receive
    • Greater ability to serve the community.

    Simplify your interactions with business

    • Make it easier for businesses to identify themselves and interact with your agency
    • Pre-fill online forms using ABR public data
    • Validate your clients’ and suppliers’ ABNs in real time
    • Easily share and match data through a common identifier.

    Accessing the data

    Public data is available to everyone via ABN Lookup and data.gov.au. Agencies such as yours can use ABN Lookup web services to offer pre-filled online forms to your clients or automatically refresh your databases.

    Non-public data for government

    A new online data tool called ABR Explorer has been developed to make accessing and analysing ABR data easier for agencies and provide:

    • secure access to public and non-public data
    • functionality to filter, search and query the data
    • data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and maps
    • functionality to download the data
    • online support.

    How to access ABR data

    There are three simple steps to access ABR data:

    1. Talk to us about how your agency wants to use ABR data
    2. Submit an ABR data access application
    3. Submit a terms and conditions form which has been signed by your agency head.

    Find out more

    To find out more about ABR data:

    How current agencies are using ABR data

    Growing the economy

    Sutherland Shire Council used ABR data to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. The council used email addresses to survey home-based businesses about their needs and to ensure they were getting the help they needed to grow and succeed.

    The council said email provided a low cost option for dealing with clients and allows recipients to respond easily and quickly. Through the survey, business owners could choose the support and services they need to help take their business to the next level including workshops, seminars and coaching sessions.

    Land use

    Bass Coast Shire Council in Victoria used ABR data to identify and contact over 1,000 agricultural businesses in the area, to survey their views about rural land use including agricultural tourism, food production and protection of natural assets.

    The responses were used to develop a rural land use strategy for the shire that supports long-term economic and social changes consistent with government policies and plans.

    The council said ABR data provided an extra layer of information about businesses, allowing them to establish the numbers and types of business by industry segments.

    Disaster response

    In November 2015, Western Australia police obtained business information from the ABR for planning and logistics to assist their operations during fires that impacted Esperance.

    ABR information gave police the ability to:

    • assist planning in areas of high risk to identify and protect life
    • quickly identify where fuel for police vehicles was located
    • identify accommodation for police officers in the field without searching the internet
    • use listed business phone numbers to help speed up processes.

    Procurement

    Access to the ABR helped the Gold Coast City Council make significant improvements to their procurement processes, including faster payments to businesses and a reduction in community-funded operating costs.

    ABNs are captured in business registration forms and the council verifies business details provided on those forms via the online ABN Lookup facility. When an invoice arrives, the ABN displayed is verified against the supplier’s details held in the council’s master file. If a discrepancy is found, the business is advised to update their information on the ABR and provide council with appropriate evidence.

    The council also uses ABN Lookup to identify and eliminate duplicate records within their database. This prevents the need for remedial activity during financial audits, reduces the risk of funds being paid in error, and increases the opportunity to identify erroneous data more quickly.

    Compliance

    Inspectors from the New South Wales Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) have an extensive program of workplace visits they conduct across the state every year.

    OIR inspectors use ABR information in planning their visits. They identify specific types of businesses within an area by combining ABR industry coding data, with business addresses and postcodes.

    OIR inspectors can request an up-to-date list of businesses in a region, suburb or even a street, allowing them to plan their programs more effectively.

    They also use the GST registration date to identify new businesses for field inspections. Businesses registering for GST are more likely to be active and, if their turnover is greater than $75,000, they are more likely to be employing staff.

    Using ABR as own register

    The Queensland Department of Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games (DTESB) manages the Business and Industry Portal (BIP) as a franchise of the Queensland Government’s One Stop Shop Strategy.

    DTESB are using ABR data to support its interaction with businesses. This has includes using ABR data to identify small businesses and provide access to services to support growth and improve productivity.

    © Australian Taxation Office for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2016

    You are free to copy, adapt, modify, transmit and distribute this material as you wish (but not in any way that suggests the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Australian Government endorses you or any of your services or products).

    Published by ABR, Canberra. April 2016 / JS36684C

    • Last modified: 14 Apr 2016QC 1063